The Oxford English Dictionary defines "rest" as an intermission of labor or exertion of any kind; repose obtained by ceasing to exert oneself; day of rest; the Sabbath. Rest also means the freedom from toil or care associated with future life; spiritual or mental peace; quietness or tranquility of mind; the absence or cessation of motion or to be still. Rest can also mean the state of being restored to vigor or strength. Shakespeare used rest in this sense when he said "We lying still, are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness."
The word rest is used numerous times in the scriptures in the senses of the dictionary definition. For example, in Genesis 2:1-3, after "the earth was finished ... God ended his work ... and he rested on the seventh day ... and blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work." The Hebrew word for rest means to cease, or keep a period of rest. The word Sabbath itself means a day of rest and worship.
One of the great promises is that if we are faithful we will enter into his rest. "Whosoever repenteth and hardeneth not his heart shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest." (Alma 12:34) However, those who "harden (their) hearts and will do iniquity ... shall not enter into my rest." (Alma 12:35; see also Hebrews 3:10-11)
In his Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E. Vine quotes J. Patrick, "Christ's rest is not a rest from work, but in work, 'not the rest of inactivity but of the harmonious working of all the faculties and affections of will, imagination, conscience because each has found in God the ideal sphere for its satisfaction and development."'
In chastising Israel's "rebellious children," Isaiah teaches that "In returning and rest ye shall be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not." (Isaiah 30:15)In April 1991 General Conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin spoke about "Peace Within." "Despite dismal conditions in the world and the personal challenges that come into every life, peace within can be a reality. We can be calm and serene regardless of the swirling turmoil all about us. Attaining harmony within ourselves depends upon our relationship with our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate him by living the principles he has given us. He has extended to us an invitation: 'Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.' (Matthew 11:28-30)"
Joseph A. Cannon is editor of the Deseret News.