Refusing Rest


This morning I did a bit of digging into the Hebrew text of two related passages in Isaiah. I wasn't sure why this first verse caught my eye or why I cross-referenced the second verse from the first, but I have a feeling it may have to do with the very small amount of sleep I have gotten this week and the knowledge that if I am to make the favorite breakfast of our exchange student (caramel rolls) before her return trip to Indonesia, then I have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning. Whatever the cause of my research, I am excited again by what God has let me uncover in His word and I am thrilled to share my findings with you.

Here is the first verse from Isaiah 30:15:
'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.' But you would not..
And here are the key words with their Hebrew translated meanings:

returning (shûwbâh) otherwise “turning back” or a term signifying repentance

rest (nachath) holds the imagery of setting down a burden that one has been carrying

saved (yāsha) – implies that if one is given more space to spread out and is not confined, then this freedom provides security. Interestingly the world for Savior is derived from this word.

quietness (shäqat) means a secure rest, one without any need to do anything or say anything

confidence (biṯchāh) a sense of resignation where there is nothing else to be done. Interestingly this the only instance of this word used in the Old Testament

strength (gᵉbûwrâh) meaning a forceful act of power

would not (âbâh lōh) means an intent to do absolutely nothing

Putting all of that together, I have come up with this expanded version of the Isaiah 30:15 verse:
In repenting of your ways and turning back to God you will gain a lifestyle where your various burdens will be released, this is the secure freedom God is offering you; in then resigning yourself to not strive beyond the restful place you have been given you will gain a powerful source of strength.' But you had no intent to heed this command and rest...
And then, the following verse was cross-referenced from the above one, and I thought it was peculiar that all the words translated to the English word “rest” in these two passages have different meanings, which give the verses a twist when you read them and realize not all “rest” is the same.

Here is the second verse from Isaiah 28:12:
'This is the rest with which You may cause the weary to rest,' and, 'This is the refreshing'; yet they would not hear.
And here are the key words with their Hebrew translated meanings:

rest (mᵉnûchâh) a comfortable, still resting place

weary (âyêph) tired to the point of being faint

rest (nûwach) settling into a place where you have gone to withdraw from activity

refreshing (margêâh) a definitive place where rest is found

not hear ( lōh shāma) not give any attention to what was being said and therefore not obey what was asked

Also, to understand the word “this” in the Isaiah 28:12 passage, you have to go back and look at verse 10 where the Lord is telling the people of Israel that He wants then to live by His precepts (His word and law given to them in a manner than builds one of His teaching upon another and therefore builds their lives in such a way that everything they do is cemented in place with His divine teaching). In the reconstruction of this verse then with the above expanded meanings from the Hebrew definitions, I have added the meaning of “this” in likewise manner.

Putting all of that together, I have come up with this expanded version of the Isaiah 28:12 verse:
'The building up of hearing and obeying the precepts of the Lord, one on top of another, is the comfortable still resting place with which God has determined to move those who are faint to a place in which they can withdraw and cease from their activity for a time of refreshing,' and 'The building up of hearing and obeying the precepts of the Lord, one on top of another is the spiritual place God has defined as one which will give people the rest they looking for'; yet these people would not pay attention to His words or obey what He had commanded.”
So what can we take away from this lesson today to apply to our own lives? I think some of the truths I have pulled out are as follows:
  • Rest is found through repenting my sinful ways to God and turning to Him
  • Rest is found in laying my burdens down before the Lord and letting Him care for the things I shouldn't be carrying around
  • Rest is found in resigning my will to strive and accomplish over to God and letting Him guide my path
  • Rest is found in a space that is bounded by God's law - a space of bounded freedom
And when we get to that place of rest, God supplies us with a power that cannot be reckoned with – His power. The lie that doing more will accomplish more needs to be slain in our hearts and minds and instead the power of resting (really trusting to the point of not going forward until God says so and in the direction God commands) needs to rise up in our lives so God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Also, we best be mindful to not do what the nation of Israel did, and not enter into the rest God has ready for those who follow His ways and live life by His precepts - to do so would mean a life of restless sinful pursuits bogged down by burdens and the chains of condemnation.  If you ask me, the gift of rest God has to offer sounds much better than the other choice we are left with, don't you agree?  


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