I have just had some time off work. And it has been wonderful. Not because I have done anything amazing or exciting, but just some rest. And whenever I have time off work my brain goes into hyperdrive, or more accurately attempts to process many of the things that I don’t normally have time to think about and process when I am working.

And during part of my time off I spent some time considering the phrase “There is no rest for the wicked”. I knew it was a Bible quote, but it seems that it has come to mean a whole range of things in different contexts, including a song of a very similar name (Ain’t no rest for the wicked, by the Cage Elephant).

The quote originally comes from a book in the Bible called Isaiah, in chapters 48 and 57, where it doesn’t actually have the quote exactly, but pretty close. It appears to be talking more about how there will be no peace for those who do evil, and that the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest. Hence, the phrase that there is no rest for the wicked.

The difference between the idea of peace and rest is important. Peace with God, which is possibly the greatest gift of all, must include rest, but must be more than just rest. But the phrase is used in many other ways these days.

One way in which it gets used, is in this picture. We originally posted this in 2017 and it has now been shared over eleven thousand times:

But the phrase has now been used, or it appears that it is currently being used in the following circumstances:

  • in the idea that evil doers will ultimately face punishment and miss out on rest / peace (the original biblical meaning);
  • as an excuse to do something, or about something having been done that couldn’t be helped;
  • to somehow encourage children to behave;
  • as a result of laziness or fault or a problem a person will need to catch up on work and miss out on rest;
  • to comment on a person’s work ethic, and how they are always busy with work to be done.

It is interesting that the last usage, is one that is used by Christians and non-christians alike, as if somehow being busy is a goal in itself.

There is a very common assumption these days that if you are not busy, then you should get doing something. Being busy equates to being important, being worthy, or even worse, of having value. I don’t really want to comment that only one usage is the right usage. However it is interesting that both the ‘being busy is good’ usage, and the ‘doing wicked but fun things is good’ usage are not really the way in which God used it.

Regardless of all this, I enjoyed my rest, and I am looking forward to my ultimate rest?

What about you? What do you think the ultimate rest will be like? Will we still be busy? What will we be doing? Is it ok to have rest now?