“And He said, ‘My face will go with you and I will secure rest for you.’”
God promises to provide x;Wn (nuach), or rest, for his people. While there are a variety of uses of this verb in the Old Testament, in the context of this passage, the rest that is spoken of is rest from trial and from one’s enemies. God is speaking of his presence with his people, and it is only when we rest in his presence that we find peace–even in the midst of worldly challenges. The problem that God’s people so often run into is that they fail to rest in God and seek satisfaction in the temptations of the world. God is promising rest for his people, but it is in the context of his presence and it is in the context of them following his ways (see verse 13).
This is the promise that Jesus offers the church when he says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened; I will give you rest. 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.” (Matthew 11:28-29). Oh, how we may learn to rest in Christ, for this rest can be found even in the most chaotic days of our life. Let us rest and find our pleasure in him and in him alone.
At the same time, let us always remember that this promise of rest carries with it conditions. Just as the rest that was promised to the Israelites was rest based on their remaining in God’s presence and upon their remaining in God’s “ways” (or their obedience to him), so it is the same with the church today. Too many people take the freedoms that we have been given in Christ as a license for worldly behavior. The apostle Paul responds to this attitude with the strongest language in Romans 6:15-18, reminding us that we serve one master or another, either sin and death or God and life—take your pick. Yet, beloved, if you want it, if you desire to have this peace and rest in the midst of life’s storms, it is yours for the asking; just seek that peace and rest in Christ.
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear,
Falling on my ear; the Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.