Bible Verses About Rest (and Sleep)

by Joseph at

Rest is a surprisingly deep topic in the Bible. These Bible verses about rest range from the practical and mundane, to those that convey deep truths about the nature of salvation itself.

Types of Bible Verses About Rest

We divided the Bible verses about rest (and sleep) into 10 different categories:


Number of Passages

God Provides Rest


Practical Advice for Rest


Benefits of Rest


Consequences of Not Resting


The Weekly Sabbath Rest


The Sabbatical Rest


Rest, Work, and Legalism


Rest as Salvation


Sleep as Spiritual Death




God Provides Rest

God is the provider of everything, including rest. These Bible verses show the many ways that God helps us to rest.

He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)

A Psalm by David. 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the LORD’s house forever. (Psalm 23)

It is vain for you to rise up early, to stay up late, eating the bread of toil, for he gives sleep to his loved ones. (Psalm 127:2)

Thorns and briers will come up on my people’s land; yes, on all the houses of joy in the joyous city. 14 For the palace will be forsaken. The populous city will be deserted. The hill and the watchtower will be for dens forever, a delight for wild donkeys, a pasture of flocks, 15 until the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is considered a forest. 16 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness; and righteousness will remain in the fruitful field. 17 The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. 18 My people will live in a peaceful habitation, in safe dwellings, and in quiet resting places, 19 though hail flattens the forest, and the city is leveled completely. (Isaiah 32:13–19)

Solomon acknowledged that God had provided rest and peace for his kingdom.

Solomon sent to Hiram, saying, 3 “You know that David my father could not build a house for the name of the LORD his God because of the wars which were around him on every side, until the LORD put his enemies under the soles of his feet. 4 But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side. There is no enemy and no evil occurrence. 5 Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the LORD my God, as the LORD spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place shall build the house for my name.' " (1 Kings 5:2–5)

Jesus Offers Us Rest

Jesus gave rest to the people he healed, to his disciples, and to us. His yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

At that time, Jesus answered, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in your sight. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father. No one knows the Son, except the Father; neither does anyone know the Father, except the Son and he to whom the Son desires to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25–30)

God Provides Rest in the Midst of Danger

Rest is only possible when we don't feel in danger. These verses show how God provides peace and safety from danger. That, in turn, leads to deep rest.

I laid myself down and slept. I awakened, for the LORD sustains me. 6 I will not be afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me on every side. (Psalm 3:5–6)

You have put gladness in my heart, more than when their grain and their new wine are increased. 8 In peace I will both lay myself down and sleep, for you alone, the LORD, make me live in safety. (Psalm 4:7–8)

My soul rests in God alone. My salvation is from him. 2 He alone is my rock, my salvation, and my fortress. I will never be greatly shaken. 3 How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down, like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence? 4 They fully intend to throw him down from his lofty place. They delight in lies. They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. 5 My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my expectation is from him. (Psalm 62:1–5)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. Under his wings you will take refuge. His faithfulness is your shield and rampart. 5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked. (Psalm 91:1–8)

The LORD preserves the simple. I was brought low, and he saved me. 7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. 8 For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. (Psalm 116:6–8)

God Provides Rest From Work

We must work in order to eat. But it's important to remember that ultimately God provides the food we eat, as well as the energy to work. When Israel wandered in the wilderness, God directly provided them with food.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” (Exodus 16:4–5)

On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 He said to them, “This is that which the LORD has spoken, ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.’ ” 24 They laid it up until the morning, as Moses ordered, and it didn’t become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD. Today you shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none.” 27 On the seventh day, some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28 the LORD said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 Behold, because the LORD has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:22–30)

However, sometimes we may feel as if God himself keeps us from resting.

You hold my eyelids open. I am so troubled that I can’t speak. 5 I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. 6 I remember my song in the night. I consider in my own heart; my spirit diligently inquires: 7 “Will the Lord reject us forever? Will he be favorable no more? 8 Has his loving kindness vanished forever? Does his promise fail for generations? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he, in anger, withheld his compassion?” Selah. (Psalm 77:4–9)

Does financial stress make it hard for you to rest? Try listening to these Psalms. Remember that God is your provider.

Practical Bible Verses About Rest

Some Bible verses about rest provide practical advice on how to rest easier. Wisdom, instruction, and wise commands: all of these can lead to good rest. They provide protection from danger, making it easy to sleep in peace.

Happy is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gets understanding. 14 For her good profit is better than getting silver, and her return is better than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies. None of the things you can desire are to be compared to her. 16 Length of days is in her right hand. In her left hand are riches and honor. 17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness. All her paths are peace...When you lie down, you will not be afraid. Yes, you will lie down, and your sleep will be sweet. (Proverbs 3:13–17, 24)

Take firm hold of instruction. Don’t let her go. Keep her, for she is your life. 14 Don’t enter into the path of the wicked. Don’t walk in the way of evil men. 15 Avoid it, and don’t pass by it. Turn from it, and pass on. 16 For they don’t sleep unless they do evil. Their sleep is taken away, unless they make someone fall. (Proverbs 4:13–16)

My son, keep your father’s commandment, and don’t forsake your mother’s teaching. 21 Bind them continually on your heart. Tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, it will lead you. When you sleep, it will watch over you. When you awake, it will talk with you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is light. Reproofs of instruction are the way of life. (Proverbs 6:20–23)

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon wrote that too much wealth can make it hard to sleep.

For what does a man have of all his labor and of the striving of his heart, in which he labors under the sun? 23 For all his days are sorrows, and his travail is grief; yes, even in the night his heart takes no rest. This also is vanity. 24 There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:22–24)

He who loves silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity. 11 When goods increase, those who eat them are increased; and what advantage is there to its owner, except to feast on them with his eyes? 12 The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not allow him to sleep. 13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: wealth kept by its owner to his harm. (Ecclesiastes 5:10–13)

We should be careful to avoid depriving others of sleep. The rich can make it hard for the poor to rest, either by violating the privacy and safety of their home, or by depriving them of food, shelter, or clothing:

When you lend your neighbor any kind of loan, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge. 11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the pledge outside to you. 12 If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13 You shall surely restore to him the pledge when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his garment and bless you. It shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 24:10–13)

Finally, while rest is good, we should avoid the opposite extreme of being slothful and lazy.

Don’t love sleep, lest you come to poverty. Open your eyes, and you shall be satisfied with bread. (Proverbs 20:13)

Bible Verses About the Benefits of Rest

These Bible verses show that there are numerous benefits to resting:

  • Rest helps us be more like God
  • God connects rest with salvation and eternal rewards
  • Rest brings refreshment
  • Guidance through dreams can only happen when we rest

If we never rest, we cannot be like God. Resting is part of God's nature:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 You shall labor six days, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; 11 for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8–11)

Many Bible verses explain how God blesses those who rest. We will see some of these later on in the section on commands to rest. But here are a few verses which make the blessings attached to rest very clear:

The LORD says: “Maintain justice and do what is right, for my salvation is near and my righteousness will soon be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath without profaning it and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 3 Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD speak, saying, “the LORD will surely separate me from his people.” Do not let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For the LORD says, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, choose the things that please me, and hold fast to my covenant, 5 I will give them in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off. 6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD to serve him, and to love the LORD’s name, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant, 7 I will bring these to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isaiah 56:1–7)

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the LORD honorable, and honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, 14 then you will delight yourself in the LORD, and I will make you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father;” for the LORD’s mouth has spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13–14)

At a practical level, rest simply brings peace and refreshment after hard work.

Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant, and the alien may be refreshed. (Exodus 23:12)

Rest and sleep is the only way we can dream. And God sometimes provides guidance or reassurance through dreams.

“Behold, I will answer you. In this you are not just, for God is greater than man. 13 Why do you strive against him, because he doesn’t give account of any of his matters? 14 For God speaks once, yes twice, though man pays no attention. 15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, in slumbering on the bed, 16 then he opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, 17 that he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. (Job 33:12–18)

The LORD of Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Yet again they will use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I reverse their captivity: ‘the LORD bless you, habitation of righteousness, mountain of holiness.’ 24 Judah and all its cities will dwell therein together, the farmers, and those who go about with flocks. 25 For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.” 26 On this I awakened, and saw; and my sleep was sweet to me. (Jeremiah 31:23–26)

Another benefit of rest that I've noticed is it tends to make me more grateful. It is a virtuous cycle: being grateful decreases anxiety, making rest come easier, which makes me grateful...

But there is an opposite vicious cycle: sleepless nights lead to frustration and anxiety, which leads to sleepless nights...if you happen to be stuck in a vicious cycle of restlessness and anxiety, try starting a gratitude and prayer journal to break the cycle.

Consequences of Not Resting

Just as resting has benefits, not resting has negative consequences. In the Mosaic Law, disobedience to the command to take a full Sabbath day of rest was punishable by death:

While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. 35 the LORD said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him with stones outside of the camp.” 36 All the congregation brought him outside of the camp, and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32–36)

Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah later warned that if the nation did not start keeping the Law, they would be sent into exile. One of the most important commands in the Law was the one to take a full day off from regular work, i.e., to keep the Sabbath.

The LORD said this to me: “Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, through which the kings of Judah come in and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem. 20 Tell them, ‘Hear the LORD’s word, you kings of Judah, all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates: 21 the LORD says, “Be careful, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Don’t carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day. Don’t do any work, but make the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers. 23 But they didn’t listen. They didn’t turn their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, and might not receive instruction. 24 It will happen, if you diligently listen to me,” says the LORD, “to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but to make the Sabbath day holy, to do no work therein; 25 then there will enter in by the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on David’s throne, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and this city will remain forever. 26 They will come from the cities of Judah, and from the places around Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the lowland, from the hill country, and from the South, bringing burnt offerings, sacrifices, meal offerings, and frankincense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving to the LORD’s house. 27 But if you will not listen to me to make the Sabbath day holy, and not to bear a burden and enter in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem. It will not be quenched.” ’ ” (Jeremiah 17:19–27)

So I caused them to go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. 11 I gave them my statutes and showed them my ordinances, which if a man does, he will live in them. 12 Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.

13 But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They didn’t walk in my statutes and they rejected my ordinances, which if a man keeps, he shall live in them. They greatly profaned my Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out my wrath on them in the wilderness, to consume them. 14 But I worked for my name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I brought them out. 15 Moreover also I swore to them in the wilderness that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands, 16 because they rejected my ordinances, and didn’t walk in my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. 17 Nevertheless my eye spared them, and I didn’t destroy them. I didn’t make a full end of them in the wilderness. 18 I said to their children in the wilderness, "Don’t walk in the statutes of your fathers. Don’t observe their ordinances or defile yourselves with their idols. 19 I am the LORD your God. Walk in my statutes, keep my ordinances, and do them. 20 Make my Sabbaths holy. They shall be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God."

21 But the children rebelled against me. They didn’t walk in my statutes, and didn’t keep my ordinances to do them, which if a man does, he shall live in them. They profaned my Sabbaths. Then I said I would pour out my wrath on them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. 22 Nevertheless I withdrew my hand and worked for my name’s sake, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I brought them out. 23 Moreover I swore to them in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the nations and disperse them through the countries, 24 because they had not executed my ordinances, but had rejected my statutes, and had profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols. 25 Moreover also I gave them statutes that were not good, and ordinances in which they couldn’t live. 26 I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused all that opens the womb to pass through the fire, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the LORD. (Ezekiel 20:10–26)

These warnings were not heeded. Israel eventually went into exile in Babylon. These next passages take place after Israel had just spent decades in exile outside the Promised Land.

Nehemiah was one of the leaders when the Israelites finally returned. He was disturbed to find the people once again disobeying the Sabbath command...once again doing the same thing that had caused them to go into exile!

And if the peoples of the land bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and that we would forego the seventh year crops and the exaction of every debt. (Nehemiah 10:31)

In those days I saw some men treading wine presses on the Sabbath in Judah, bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day in which they sold food. 16 Some men of Tyre also lived there, who brought in fish and all kinds of wares, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, and profane the Sabbath day? 18 Didn’t your fathers do this, and didn’t our God bring all this evil on us and on this city? Yet you bring more wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” 19 It came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the doors should be shut, and commanded that they should not be opened until after the Sabbath. I set some of my servants over the gates, so that no burden should be brought in on the Sabbath day. 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares camped outside of Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said to them, “Why do you stay around the wall? If you do so again, I will lay hands on you.” From that time on, they didn’t come on the Sabbath. 22 I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me for this also, my God, and spare me according to the greatness of your loving kindness. (Nehemiah 13:15–22)

The Command to Take a Weekly Sabbath Rest

Earlier we alluded to the Sabbath command to rest. This command was repeated numerous times in the Mosaic Law. I haven't actually gone through and counted, but I'd bet the command to take a Sabbath rest is repeated more than any other.

Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, "Most certainly you shall keep my Sabbaths; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall surely be put to death. 16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:13–17)

Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest: in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. (Exodus 34:21)

Moses assembled all the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them, “These are the words which the LORD has commanded, that you should do them. 2 ‘Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of solemn rest to the LORD: whoever does any work in it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.’ ” (Exodus 35:1–3)

"It shall be a statute to you forever: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and shall do no kind of work, whether native-born or a stranger who lives as a foreigner among you; 30 for on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you. You shall be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. 32 The priest, who is anointed and who is consecrated to be priest in his father’s place, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen garments, even the holy garments. 33 Then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary; and he shall make atonement for the Tent of Meeting and for the altar; and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” It was done as the LORD commanded Moses. (Leviticus 16:29–34)

Each one of you shall respect his mother and his father. You shall keep my Sabbaths. I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:3)

You shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:30)

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is the LORD’s Passover. 17 On the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days. 18 In the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. (Numbers 28:16–18)

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no regular work. It is a day of blowing of trumpets to you. (Numbers 29:1)

Six days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God. You shall do no work. (Deuteronomy 16:8)

Leviticus 23 describes all of the Israelites' major feasts or festivals. Each of these involved some period of extra rest in addition to the usual Sabbath. It is a long passage, so we will just quote the beginning to get the flavor of it:

Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, "The set feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my set feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no kind of work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 These are the set feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their appointed season. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening, is the LORD’s Passover. 6 On the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread to the LORD. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 In the first day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work. 8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD seven days. In the seventh day is a holy convocation. You shall do no regular work." (Leviticus 23:2-8)

God spoke through Ezekiel to emphasize the (broken) Sabbath command over and over again:

You have despised my holy things, and have profaned my Sabbaths. (Ezekiel 22:8)

Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they caused men to discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hidden their eyes from my Sabbaths. So I am profaned among them. (Ezekiel 22:26)

Moreover this they have done to me: they have defiled my sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned my Sabbaths. (Ezekiel 23:38)

In a controversy they shall stand to judge. They shall judge it according to my ordinances. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts. They shall make my Sabbaths holy. (Ezekiel 44:24)

Bible Verses About the Sabbatical Rest

The Sabbath rest was a weekly event: work 6 days, rest 1 day.

The Sabbatical rest was similar, just replace days with years: work 6 years, rest 1 year.

Furthermore, after every 7 Sabbaticals (49 years) the 50th year was meant to be an extra special full year of rest: the Jubilee.

The purpose of the Sabbatical rest seems to be focused mostly on allowing the land to rest. But of course a side-benefit of that is that all the people would rest too.

Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, "When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. 3 You shall sow your field six years, and you shall prune your vineyard six years, and gather in its fruits; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 What grows of itself in your harvest you shall not reap, and you shall not gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6 The Sabbath of the land shall be for food for you; for yourself, for your servant, for your maid, for your hired servant, and for your stranger, who lives as a foreigner with you. 7 For your livestock also, and for the animals that are in your land, shall all its increase be for food.

8 You shall count off seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years; and there shall be to you the days of seven Sabbaths of years, even forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee to you. In it you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself, nor gather from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat of its increase out of the field. 13 In this Year of Jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14 If you sell anything to your neighbor, or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor. According to the number of years of the crops he shall sell to you. 16 According to the length of the years you shall increase its price, and according to the shortness of the years you shall diminish its price; for he is selling the number of the crops to you. 17 You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the LORD your God. 18 Therefore you shall do my statutes, and keep my ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety.

19 The land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. 20 If you said, 'What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase;' 21 then I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, and it shall bear fruit for the three years. 22 You shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits from the old store until the ninth year. Until its fruits come in, you shall eat the old store." (Leviticus 25:2–22)

God warned that if Israel did not keep the Sabbatical (the land's Sabbaths), then he would exile them in order to enforce this rest for the land.

Then the land will enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land. Even then the land will rest and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35 As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, even the rest which it didn’t have in your Sabbaths when you lived on it. 36 As for those of you who are left, I will send a faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies. The sound of a driven leaf will put them to flight; and they shall flee, as one flees from the sword. They will fall when no one pursues. 37 They will stumble over one another, as it were before the sword, when no one pursues. You will have no power to stand before your enemies. 38 You will perish among the nations. The land of your enemies will eat you up. 39 Those of you who are left will pine away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands; and also in the iniquities of their fathers they shall pine away with them.

40 If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they trespassed against me; and also that because they walked contrary to me, 41 I also walked contrary to them, and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled, and they then accept the punishment of their iniquity, 42 then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land. 43 The land also will be left by them, and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; and they will accept the punishment of their iniquity because they rejected my ordinances, and their soul abhorred my statutes. (Leviticus 26:34–43)

Israel apparently skipped 70 Sabbaticals. In other words, for about 400-500 years they failed to allow the land to rest.

He carried those who had escaped from the sword away to Babylon, and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the LORD’s word by Jeremiah’s mouth, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. As long as it lay desolate, it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:20–21)

Rest, Work, and Legalism

We've just gone through a bunch of Bible verses about the consequences of not resting, as well as commands to take Sabbath and Sabbatical rests. The importance of rest in the Bible runs deep. Among other things, it provides balance to the common Biblical encouragement to work hard. (Click here to read more about hard work in the Bible, or here to see other related articles.)

However, if we stopped here our treatment of rest in the Bible would be incomplete. Jesus himself was often criticized for violating the Sabbath. The Pharisees objected especially to his "work" of casting out demons and healing the sick on Sabbath.

So what exactly is permitted on the Sabbath? And does the Sabbath still apply today?

Legalism and Sabbath Rest in the Old Testament

Even in Old Testament times, there were certain jobs that seemed to get a pass to sometimes work on Sabbath. Consider this example of soldiers who regularly worked on the Sabbath:

In the seventh year Jehoiada sent and fetched the captains over hundreds of the Carites and of the guard, and brought them to him into the LORD’s house; and he made a covenant with them, and made a covenant with them in the LORD’s house, and showed them the king’s son. 5 He commanded them, saying, “This is what you must do: a third of you, who come in on the Sabbath, shall be keepers of the watch of the king’s house; 6 a third of you shall be at the gate Sur; and a third of you at the gate behind the guard. So you shall keep the watch of the house, and be a barrier. 7 The two companies of you, even all who go out on the Sabbath, shall keep the watch of the LORD’s house around the king. 8 You shall surround the king, every man with his weapons in his hand; and he who comes within the ranks, let him be slain. Be with the king when he goes out, and when he comes in.”

9 The captains over hundreds did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded; and they each took his men, those who were to come in on the Sabbath with those who were to go out on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 The priest delivered to the captains over hundreds the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the LORD’s house. 11 The guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, along by the altar and the house, around the king.

12 Then he brought out the king’s son, and put the crown on him, and gave him the covenant; and they made him king and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, “Long live the king!” 13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she came to the people into the LORD’s house; 14 and she looked, and behold, the king stood by the pillar, as the tradition was, with the captains and the trumpets by the king; and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew trumpets. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” (2 Kings 11:4–14)

Amos pointed out the hypocrisy of people who grudgingly follow the Sabbath. Like the Pharisees, they kept the letter of the Sabbath law while breaking it in their hearts. And throughout the six days of work they broke God's command by oppressing their brothers.

Hear this, you who desire to swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail, 5 saying, "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may market wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel large, and dealing falsely with balances of deceit; 6 that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and sell the sweepings with the wheat?” (Amos 8:4–6)

Legalism and Sabbath Rest in the Gospels

Jesus seemed to make a point of healing and doing other miracles on the Sabbath day. He saw it as a day to take care of people. Not only did he disregard the disapproval of the religious leaders, he almost seemed to do Sabbath healings intentionally to spite them.

At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to him, “Behold, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 But he said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered into God’s house and ate the show bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you wouldn’t have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” 9 He departed from there and went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man with a withered hand. They asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?” so that they might accuse him. 11 He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if this one falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, won’t he grab on to it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” 13 Then he told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out; and it was restored whole, just like the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how they might destroy him. 15 Jesus, perceiving that, withdrew from there. Great multitudes followed him; and he healed them all, 16 and commanded them that they should not make him known. (Matthew 12:1–16)

They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 24 saying, “Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!” 25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!” 28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area. (Mark 1:21–28)

He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath day. 11 Behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years. She was bent over and could in no way straighten herself up. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” 13 He laid his hands on her, and immediately she stood up straight and glorified God. 14 The ruler of the synagogue, being indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the multitude, “There are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!” 15 Therefore the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each one of you free his ox or his donkey from the stall on the Sabbath and lead him away to water? 16 Ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound eighteen long years, be freed from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were disappointed; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him. (Luke 13:10–17)

When he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him. 2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him. 3 Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 4 But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go. 5 He answered them, “Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?” 6 They couldn’t answer him regarding these things. (Luke 14:1–6)

After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, “Bethesda”, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; 4 for an angel went down at certain times into the pool and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. 5 A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I’m coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Arise, take up your mat, and walk.” 9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now that day was a Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat.” 11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your mat and walk’?” 13 But he who was healed didn’t know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you.” 15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is still working, so I am working, too.” 18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (John 5:1–18)

Jesus answered them, “I did one work and you all marvel because of it. 22 Moses has given you circumcision (not that it is of Moses, but of the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a boy. 23 If a boy receives circumcision on the Sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because I made a man completely healthy on the Sabbath? 24 Don’t judge according to appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” (John 7:21–24)

They brought him who had been blind to the Pharisees. 14 It was a Sabbath when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Again therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and I see.” 16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” So there was division among them. 17 Therefore they asked the blind man again, “What do you say about him, because he opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” (John 9:13–17)

It's worth thinking about how this applies to us today. If Jesus were to confront the work-obsessed, burnout-prone, Puritan work ethic of today's church, what would he do? Would he move really slowly, take his time, and spend long days doing nothing? Is there anything that would be a greater challenge to our busy way of life?

Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest after they returned from their two-by-two missionary journey. However, when the crowd followed them, he did not insist on the need for rest. He chose to prioritize teaching the crowd over resting.

The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught. 31 He said to them, “Come away into a deserted place, and rest awhile.” For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. 32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. 33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him. 34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. (Mark 6:30–34)

Legalism and Sabbath Rest in the Early Church

The Jerusalem council did not include Sabbath in their list of legal commands for the Gentile Christians. But neither did they include "Do not murder" and many other obvious sins. So this is not a good argument against Christians keeping Sabbath.

Therefore my judgment is that we don’t trouble those from among the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from the pollution of idols, from sexual immorality, from what is strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses from generations of old has in every city those who preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole assembly, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas: Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brothers.23 They wrote these things by their hand: “The apostles, the elders, and the brothers, to the brothers who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: greetings. 24 Because we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law,’ to whom we gave no commandment; 25 it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to choose out men and send them to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves will also tell you the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay no greater burden on you than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality, from which if you keep yourselves, it will be well with you. Farewell.” (Acts 15:19–29)

One thing is clear: we shouldn't judge or be judged by other Christians regarding whether to keep a Sabbath. There are some things which are morally ambiguous. They are left up to each individual person's conscience, as they are led by the Holy Spirit.

You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us. He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. 15 Having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 16 Let no one therefore judge you in eating or drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s. 18 Let no one rob you of your prize by self-abasement and worshiping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God’s growth. 20 If you died with Christ from the elemental spirits of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, 21 “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch” 22 (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, humility, and severity to the body, but aren’t of any value against the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:13–23)

Bible Verses About Rest as Salvation

Rest is a common symbol of shalom and salvation.

Rest in Genesis

In the beginning, God made everything, and it was good. This included the 7th day of rest. This day was not just good or very good. It was holy.

The heavens, the earth, and all their vast array were finished. 2 On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work of creation which he had done. (Genesis 2:1–3)

When mankind ate the forbidden fruit, one of the consequences was a curse on the ground. Adam was told he would have to work hard to get food from the ground.

To Adam he said, “Because you have listened to your wife’s voice, and have eaten from the tree, about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ the ground is cursed for your sake. You will eat from it with much labor all the days of your life. 18 It will yield thorns and thistles to you; and you will eat the herb of the field. 19 You will eat bread by the sweat of your face until you return to the ground, for you were taken out of it. For you are dust, and you shall return to dust.” (Genesis 3:17–19)

This curse on the ground was at least partially lifted with Noah and the Flood. Noah's father Lamech prophesied about this when Noah was born.

God used Noah and the Ark to save mankind from extinction in the flood. Then immediately after the Flood, God said he would not again curse the ground for man's sake. He also renewed the command previously given to Adam: Be fruitful and multiply.

Lamech lived one hundred eighty-two years, then became the father of a son. 29 He named him Noah, saying, “This one will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, caused by the ground which the LORD has cursed.” (Genesis 5:28–29)

Noah went out, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went out of the ship. 20 Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 the LORD smelled the pleasant aroma. the LORD said in his heart, “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth. I will never again strike every living thing, as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night will not cease.” 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth. 2 The fear of you and the dread of you will be on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the sky. Everything that moves along the ground, and all the fish of the sea, are delivered into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives will be food for you. As I gave you the green herb, I have given everything to you. (Genesis 8:18–9:3)

Later in the New Testament, Noah, the Ark, and the Flood are used as symbols of salvation and baptism in Christ.

Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, 19 in whom he also went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who before were disobedient when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ship was being built. In it, few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 This is a symbol of baptism, which now saves you—not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him. (1 Peter 3:18–22)

Rest From Slavery in Egypt

The Israelites were slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years, long enough that freedom from Egypt became one of the main images of salvation.

The king of Egypt said to them, “Why do you, Moses and Aaron, take the people from their work? Get back to your burdens!” 5 Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens.” 6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick, as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 You shall require from them the number of the bricks which they made before. You shall not diminish anything of it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, saying, ‘Let’s go and sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men, that they may labor in it. Don’t let them pay any attention to lying words.” (Exodus 5:4–9)

The Sabbath rest was partially given to ensure that Israel never became slaves again. They were not to force themselves to work like slaves. And they were forbidden from forcing slave-like-7-day work out of others: not their family, servants, foreigners, or even their animals.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 You shall labor six days, and do all your work; 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God, in which you shall not do any work—neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12–15)

After leaving Egypt, the Israelites took a long journey through the wilderness. They were headed for the Promised Land of Canaan. This land was to be their home, a place where they could finally rest and be at peace. However, at the edge of the Promised Land they doubted God's ability to give them the rest he had promised. This resulted in them wandering for about 40 more years in the wilderness, until all of the older generation had died. That generation never entered God's rest.

Oh come, let’s sing to the LORD. Let’s shout aloud to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let’s come before his presence with thanksgiving. Let’s extol him with songs! 3 For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The heights of the mountains are also his. 5 The sea is his, and he made it. His hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let’s worship and bow down. Let’s kneel before the LORD, our Maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep in his care. Today, oh that you would hear his voice! 8 Don’t harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers tempted me, tested me, and saw my work. 10 Forty long years I was grieved with that generation, and said, “They are a people who err in their heart. They have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They won’t enter into my rest.” (Psalm 95)

This Psalm was quoted several times in the New Testament book of Hebrews. The author of Hebrews used this rest in the Promised Land, and the Sabbath rest, as metaphors for salvation.

Note how he begins by comparing Jesus to Moses. While Moses brought temporary salvation and rest from slavery, Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, all the way to the edge of the Promised Land. But he did not cross the border.

Joshua, Moses's successor, brought the Israelites into the land that would become Israel. Joshua was the leader and general who defeated the Canaanites and gave Israel their homeland. But this passage says that Joshua did not give them rest, at least not the true rest that had been promised. They actually did rest temporarily thanks to Joshua's leadership, but it wasn't permanent. There were many terrible leaders after Joshua who led Israel into chaos.

Remember also that the name "Jesus" is "Yeshua" in Hebrew, which is the same as "Joshua." The point couldn't be clearer: Moses and Joshua delivering Israel from slavery and giving them temporary rest in the Promised Land is a symbol of Jesus delivering us from slavery into true rest.

Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession: Jesus, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, as also Moses was in all his house. 3 For he has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, because he who built the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone; but he who built all things is God. 5 Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were afterward to be spoken, 6 but Christ is faithful as a Son over his house. We are his house, if we hold fast our confidence and the glorying of our hope firm to the end.

7 Therefore, even as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you will hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of the trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested me and tried me, and saw my deeds for forty years. 10 Therefore I was displeased with that generation, and said, ‘They always err in their heart, but they didn’t know my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They will not enter into my rest.’ ” 12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there might be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God; 13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called “today”, lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence firm to the end, 15 while it is said, “Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts, as in the rebellion.”

16 For who, when they heard, rebelled? Wasn’t it all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 With whom was he displeased forty years? Wasn’t it with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 To whom did he swear that they wouldn’t enter into his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 We see that they weren’t able to enter in because of unbelief.

4:1 Let’s fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard. 3 For we who have believed do enter into that rest, even as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest;” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, “God rested on the seventh day from all his works;” 5 and in this place again, “They will not enter into my rest.”

6 Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter into it, and they to whom the good news was preached before failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7 he again defines a certain day, “today”, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), “Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his. 11 Let’s therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. (Hebrews 3:1–4:13)

The Prophets also frequently used images of Egypt and slavery to contrast with the peace and rest that only God could provide.

We must pay for water to drink. Our wood is sold to us. 5 Our pursuers are on our necks. We are weary, and have no rest. 6 We have given our hands to the Egyptians, and to the Assyrians, to be satisfied with bread. (Lamentations 5:4–6)

I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David prince among them. I, the LORD, have spoken it. 25 “ ‘I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause evil animals to cease out of the land. They will dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 I will make them and the places around my hill a blessing. I will cause the shower to come down in its season. There will be showers of blessing. 27 The tree of the field will yield its fruit, and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure in their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke, and have delivered them out of the hand of those who made slaves of them. (Ezekiel 34:24–27)

This long passage from Isaiah centers around the same theme: rest in God is salvation.

“Woe to the rebellious children”, says the LORD, “who take counsel, but not from me; and who make an alliance, but not with my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 who set out to go down into Egypt without asking for my advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to take refuge in the shadow of Egypt! 3 Therefore the strength of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. 4 For their princes are at Zoan, and their ambassadors have come to Hanes. 5 They shall all be ashamed because of a people that can’t profit them, that are not a help nor profit, but a shame, and also a reproach.” 6 The burden of the animals of the South. Through the land of trouble and anguish, of the lioness and the lion, the viper and fiery flying serpent, they carry their riches on the shoulders of young donkeys, and their treasures on the humps of camels, to an unprofitable people. 7 For Egypt helps in vain, and to no purpose; therefore I have called her Rahab who sits still. 8 Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come forever and ever. 9 For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the LORD’s law; 10 who tell the seers, “Don’t see!” and the prophets, “Don’t prophesy to us right things. Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way. Turn away from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

12 Therefore the Holy One of Israel says, “Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely on it, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly in an instant. 14 He will break it as a potter’s vessel is broken, breaking it in pieces without sparing, so that there won’t be found among the broken pieces a piece good enough to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.” 15 For thus said the Lord the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, “You will be saved in returning and rest. Your strength will be in quietness and in confidence.” You refused, 16 but you said, “No, for we will flee on horses;” therefore you will flee; and, “We will ride on the swift;” therefore those who pursue you will be swift. 17 One thousand will flee at the threat of one. At the threat of five, you will flee until you are left like a beacon on the top of a mountain, and like a banner on a hill.

18 Therefore the LORD will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you, for the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him. 19 For the people will dwell in Zion at Jerusalem. You will weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the voice of your cry. When he hears you, he will answer you. 20 Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers won’t be hidden any more, but your eyes will see your teachers; 21 and when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way. Walk in it.” 22 You shall defile the overlaying of your engraved images of silver, and the plating of your molten images of gold. You shall cast them away as an unclean thing. You shall tell it, “Go away!” 23 He will give the rain for your seed, with which you will sow the ground; and bread of the increase of the ground will be rich and plentiful. In that day, your livestock will feed in large pastures. (Isaiah 30:1–23)

As a segue into the next section, I want to highlight one more piece of the Isaiah passage we just read.

For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the LORD’s law; 10 who tell the seers, “Don’t see!” and the prophets, “Don’t prophesy to us right things. Tell us pleasant things. Prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way. Turn away from the path. Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:9-11)

This example of self-deception is closely related to another Biblical metaphor.

Sleep as Spiritual Death

While rest is used to describe salvation, sleep is often a metaphor of spiritual ignorance and even death.

Old Testament Examples of Spiritual Sleep

At one level, the following examples of Samson and Saul's sleep are just historical facts. Both had unusual physical strength or size, and both were leaders of the entire nation of Israel. Both fell asleep and it caused problems. Samson's sleep led directly to his death, and Saul's sleep should have, too.

But consider the entire life of Samson and Saul. Read about Samson's dealings with the Philistines, women, wine, and even the trifecta: Philistine women and wine all at the same time. He seemed to walk around in constant confusion of mind and spirit. He was entirely controlled by his lusts, except in those rare moments when the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him.

Given this bigger story, Samson falling asleep on Delilah's lap is more than a historical fact. It functions as a symbol of his spiritually dark, sleepy life.

Delilah said to Samson, “Until now, you have mocked me and told me lies. Tell me with what you might be bound.” He said to her, “If you weave the seven locks of my head with the fabric on the loom.” 14 She fastened it with the pin, and said to him, “The Philistines are on you, Samson!” He awakened out of his sleep, and plucked away the pin of the beam and the fabric. 15 She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.” 16 When she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, his soul was troubled to death. 17 He told her all his heart and said to her, “No razor has ever come on my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will go from me and I will become weak, and be like any other man.”

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up this once, for he has told me all his heart.” Then the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. 19 She made him sleep on her knees; and she called for a man and shaved off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. 20 She said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” He awoke out of his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times, and shake myself free.” But he didn’t know that the LORD had departed from him. 21 The Philistines laid hold on him and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with fetters of bronze; and he ground at the mill in the prison. 22 However, the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaved. (Judges 16:13–22)

Saul's life also seemed to be lived in a fog. He constantly made bad decisions, taking initiative when he should've waited, and waiting when he should've taken action. His jealous obsession with David, his most skilled and loyal commander, was like a constant nightmare. He was often not in his right mind, confused and tormented by evil spirits.

Same thing here: Saul's sleeping story is a symbol of his spiritual darkness.

So David and Abishai came to the people by night; and, behold, Saul lay sleeping within the place of the wagons, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has delivered up your enemy into your hand today. Now therefore please let me strike him with the spear to the earth at one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” 9 David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’s anointed, and be guiltless?” 10 David said, “As the LORD lives, the LORD will strike him; or his day shall come to die, or he shall go down into battle and perish. 11 the LORD forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let’s go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it, or knew it, nor did any awake; for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the LORD had fallen on them. (1 Samuel 26:7–12)

In this last example, the punishment on Babylon was described metaphorically in terms of drunkenness and sleep.

Babylon will become heaps, a dwelling place for jackals, an astonishment, and a hissing, without inhabitant. 38 They will roar together like young lions. They will growl as lions’ cubs. 39 When they are inflamed, I will make their feast, and I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake up,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:37–39)

Does God sleep?

Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal by claiming their god was sleepy. By ascribing a human weakness he pointed out Baal was a sham, a false god.

Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves, and dress it first, for you are many; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” 26 They took the bull which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, “Baal, hear us!” But there was no voice, and nobody answered. They leaped about the altar which was made. 27 At noon, Elijah mocked them, and said, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is deep in thought, or he has gone somewhere, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he sleeps and must be awakened.” 28 They cried aloud, and cut themselves in their way with knives and lances until the blood gushed out on them. 29 When midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the evening offering; but there was no voice, no answer, and nobody paid attention. (1 Kings 18:25–29)

The true God rests, but he doesn't sleep.

In Psalm 44 the sons of Korah struggle with despair, fearing that the true God sleeps, unaware of their suffering. But Psalm 121 affirms that God does not sleep, he is always watching over his people.

Yes, for your sake we are killed all day long. We are regarded as sheep for the slaughter. 23 Wake up! Why do you sleep, Lord? Arise! Don’t reject us forever. 24 Why do you hide your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust. Our body clings to the earth. 26 Rise up to help us. Redeem us for your loving kindness’ sake. (Psalm 44:22–26)

A Song of Ascents. 1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 3 He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. 4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 the LORD is your keeper. the LORD is your shade on your right hand. 6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 the LORD will keep you from all evil. He will keep your soul. 8 the LORD will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time forward, and forever more. (Psalm 121)

Sleepy Prophets are False Prophets

A prophet is someone who awake to the spiritual realm in a way that most people aren't. He sees and hears the truth from God. A sleepy prophet, or a drunk prophet, is a contradiction in terms.

Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For the LORD has poured out on you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets; and he has covered your heads, the seers. (Isaiah 29:9–10)

They also reel with wine, and stagger with strong drink. The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink. They are swallowed up by wine. They stagger with strong drink. They err in vision. They stumble in judgment. 8 For all tables are completely full of filthy vomit and filthiness. 9 Whom will he teach knowledge? To whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts? 10 For it is precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, there a little. 11 But he will speak to this nation with stammering lips and in another language, 12 to whom he said, “This is the resting place. Give rest to the weary,” and “This is the refreshing;” yet they would not hear. 13 Therefore the LORD’s word will be to them precept on precept, precept on precept; line on line, line on line; here a little, there a little; that they may go, fall backward, be broken, be snared, and be taken. (Isaiah 28:7–13)

"My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who utter lying divinations. They will not be in the council of my people, neither will they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither will they enter into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD GOD. 10 Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, 'Peace'; and there is no peace. When one builds up a wall, behold, they plaster it with whitewash. 11 Tell those who plaster it with whitewash that it will fall. There will be an overflowing shower; and you, great hailstones, will fall. A stormy wind will tear it. 12 Behold, when the wall has fallen, won’t it be said to you, 'Where is the plaster with which you have plastered it?' " 13 Therefore the Lord the LORD says: "I will even tear it with a stormy wind in my wrath. There will be an overflowing shower in my anger, and great hailstones in wrath to consume it. 14 So I will break down the wall that you have plastered with whitewash, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered. It will fall, and you will be consumed in the middle of it. Then you will know that I am the LORD. 15 Thus I will accomplish my wrath on the wall, and on those who have plastered it with whitewash. I will tell you, 'The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it'— 16 to wit, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace,” says the LORD GOD. (Ezekiel 13:9-16)

You drive the women of my people out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my blessing forever. 10 Arise, and depart! For this is not your resting place, because of uncleanness that destroys, even with a grievous destruction. 11 If a man walking in a spirit of falsehood lies, saying, “I will prophesy to you of wine and of strong drink,” he would be the prophet of this people. (Micah 2:9–11)

Sleep as Metaphor in the New Testament

Similar to the examples above with Samson and Saul, the disciples fell asleep when they should have been awake and alert. This was both a historical fact and a symbol of their spiritual blindness.

He came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 He left them again, went away, and prayed a third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Arise, let’s be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand.” 47 While he was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people. (Matthew 26:43–47)

Jesus's Parable of the Rich Fool is another example of the wrong kind of sleep or rest. The Rich Fool stored up lots of food in order to live a life of leisure. But that very night his life was demanded of him. Hear the full story in this video:

In the next example, Jesus uses sleep as a somewhat more benign metaphor: physical instead of spiritual death. Nonetheless, the disciples confusion about what Jesus even means again highlights their general confusion and lack of spiritual awareness.

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.” 11 He said these things, and after that, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I may awake him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples therefore said, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he spoke of taking rest in sleep. 14 So Jesus said to them plainly then, “Lazarus is dead. 15 I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe. Nevertheless, let’s go to him.” (John 11:9–15)

Paul frequently used stupor, sleep, darkness, and night as metaphors for spiritual sleep and death.

What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn’t obtain, but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened. 8 According as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.” (Romans 11:7–8)

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already time for you to awaken out of sleep, for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone, and the day is near. Let’s therefore throw off the deeds of darkness, and let’s put on the armor of light. 13 Let’s walk properly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and lustful acts, and not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, for its lusts. (Romans 13:11–14)

Have no fellowship with the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather even reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things, when they are reproved, are revealed by the light, for everything that reveals is light. 14 Therefore he says, “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:11–16)

But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 3 For when they are saying, “Peace and safety,” then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman. Then they will in no way escape. 4 But you, brothers, aren’t in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief. 5 You are all children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness, 6 so then let’s not sleep, as the rest do, but let’s watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep in the night; and those who are drunk are drunk in the night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let’s be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God didn’t appoint us to wrath, but to the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Therefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as you also do. (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11)

Miscellaneous Bible Verses About Rest

These Bible verses about rest don't fit easily into any of the previous themes.

A Psalm. A song for the Sabbath day. 1 It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, Most High, 2 to proclaim your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night, 3 with the ten-stringed lute, with the harp, and with the melody of the lyre. 4 For you, the LORD, have made me glad through your work. I will triumph in the works of your hands. 5 How great are your works, the LORD! Your thoughts are very deep. 6 A senseless man doesn’t know, neither does a fool understand this: 7 though the wicked spring up as the grass, and all the evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever. 8 But you, the LORD, are on high forever more. 9 For behold, your enemies, the LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish. All the evildoers will be scattered. 10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox. I am anointed with fresh oil. 11 My eye has also seen my enemies. My ears have heard of the wicked enemies who rise up against me. 12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree. He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 They are planted in the LORD’s house. They will flourish in our God’s courts. 14 They will still produce fruit in old age. They will be full of sap and green, 15 to show that the LORD is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92)

The LORD has sworn to David in truth. He will not turn from it: “I will set the fruit of your body on your throne. 12 If your children will keep my covenant, my testimony that I will teach them, their children also will sit on your throne forever more.” 13 For the LORD has chosen Zion. He has desired it for his habitation. 14 “This is my resting place forever. I will live here, for I have desired it. 15 I will abundantly bless her provision. I will satisfy her poor with bread. 16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation. Her saints will shout aloud for joy. 17 I will make the horn of David to bud there. I have ordained a lamp for my anointed. 18 I will clothe his enemies with shame, but on himself, his crown will shine.” (Psalm 132:11-18)

In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar dreamed dreams; and his spirit was troubled, and his sleep went from him. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be called to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king. 3 The king said to them, “I have dreamed a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” (Daniel 2:1–3)

The unclean spirit, when he has gone out of the man, passes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will turn back to my house from which I came out.’ (Luke 11:24)

The four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within. They have no rest day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come!” 9 When the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever, and throw their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, the Holy One, to receive the glory, the honor, and the power, for you created all things, and because of your desire they existed and were created!” (Revelation 4:8–11)

A certain young man named Eutychus sat in the window, weighed down with deep sleep. As Paul spoke still longer, being weighed down by his sleep, he fell down from the third floor and was taken up dead. 10 Paul went down and fell upon him, and embracing him said, “Don’t be troubled, for his life is in him.” 11 When he had gone up, had broken bread and eaten, and had talked with them a long while, even until break of day, he departed. 12 They brought the boy in alive, and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:9–12)

Why didn’t I die from the womb? Why didn’t I give up the spirit when my mother bore me? 12 Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breast, that I should nurse? 13 For now I should have lain down and been quiet. I should have slept, then I would have been at rest, 14 with kings and counselors of the earth, who built up waste places for themselves; 15 or with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver; 16 or as a hidden untimely birth I had not been, as infants who never saw light. 17 There the wicked cease from troubling. There the weary are at rest. 18 There the prisoners are at ease together. They don’t hear the voice of the taskmaster. 19 The small and the great are there. The servant is free from his master. (Job 3:11–19)

Bible version: the public domain World English Bible (WEB) has been used throughout this post. The WEB translation of "Yahweh" has been changed to "the LORD" which is more familiar to most readers.

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