The Rest of the Lord

I recent read Adam Miller’s new book, “An Early Resurrection”, a book I recommend (book review forthcoming). One of the parts that stuck with me was a brief discussion about the “rest of the Lord”, as found for example in Moroni 7:3 –

Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.

What is this rest?

Alma 13 also mentions this rest, and Adam talks about it but not in depth. For Miller, the rest of the Lord is a sort of existence beyond time, where the cares of today are swallowed up. Not an escape from time, but a way to rest right now, even in the midst of our burdens. We no longer waste our time on our selves.

Jesus says to his followers, “I will give you rest”. This is both a future and a present promise. The rest of the Lord is not just a peaceful afterlife, but a present relief and call to action.

But I have to admit, I don’t find my faith very restful. Sometimes I feel exhausted by my religion. The three hour block is LONG. The efforts required to be an active member can seem relentless. So where is this rest? What am I doing wrong?


  1. Maybe it’s a state of mind.

  2. The rest of the Lord, in my view, is when we’re progressing and overcoming the world. The pull of the ways of the world (sin) begins to steadily diminish. And the ways of the Lord are settling on our soul and we have more frequent and meaningful experiences with the Spirit.

  3. Steve, like everything else in the Church, this “rest” is hard work. Maybe that’s what has you confused.

  4. Kristin Brown says:

    I like JFK’s definition. I am looking forward to reading your review.

  5. Terry H. says:

    The question about Alma 13 is particularly apt. Alma 13 is a Melchizedek priesthood chapter, including its ordinances. It especially (at least for me) highlights the power the priesthood has to change lives. The Melchizedek Priesthood ordinances are the temple ordinances. Tying in the Temple with the Sabbath as an issue of “the Lord’s rest” opens a lot of possibilities for me. However, the OP certainly raises important questions.

    In the Creation story in the scripture, the Lord provides a Sabbath to rest from His labors. The Sabbath was instituted to commemorate God’s seventh day of rest. This has been a day of celebration for the people of God from the time of Adam. Scholars treat the Sabbath as one of the festivals of the Lord. “The Sabbath stands out from all other holidays by its egalitarian character. All laborers, regardless of status, even animals, rest on this day.” (Milgrom, Leviticus: A Continental Commentary, Fortress, 2004.

    “The intersections of sacred space and sacred time have elucidated the many ways the sacred is maintained, contested, and accessed with considerable social effects. As the Sabbath becomes a temple in time and the sanctuary can be a Sabbath in space, they collapse into divine singularity. All one has to do is enter it.” . . . “Jesus’ followers are exhorted to ‘strive to enter’ God’s sabbath rest (4:11), ‘draw near’ to the throne (4:16), ‘enter’ the sanctuary (10:9) and to ‘draw near’ once within (10:22). They are enabled to do this by Jesus’ sacrifice, being perfected by it, acting in ways only priests and the high priest previously could, something emphasized when Jesus acts as a mediator so that the auditors can draw near to God (7:19, 25; cf. 12:22).” (Calaway, Sabbath and Sanctuary, Mohr Siebeck, 2013), pp. 27-28.

  6. I have asked myself a similar question related to Jesus’ injunction to take his yoke upon us, for his “burden is light.” The first time I read that as an adult I couldn’t fathom how you could consider Christ’s burden as “light”; it seemed like there were sacrifices aplenty. The only explanation I’ve ever been able to sort-of make sense of is that the burden is comparatively light–hard enough to make you grow, but a world away from some of the real-world burdens of sin (e.g., alienation of family members, addition). But I don’t know.

  7. Also, there’s a worn-out joke about high-council sacrament meetings giving the members unintentional “rest,” but I’m not going to make it, because I’m too classy.

  8. John Walton in in the Lost World of Genesis One talks about how the people of the ancient near east would have recognized the creation account in Genesis 1 as a temple story- God is building himself a temple. On the seventh day God takes his rest in the temple (all creation), meaning he comes to occupy it or takes up residence in it- much the same way you would see a statue of a God or Goddess in an ancient temple. Perhaps entering the “rest of the Lord” is entering the place where God lives? An invitation to dwell with the Lord?

  9. Kristin Brown says:

    Yes, maybe it is a place. I think it would also include a state of being.

  10. Mother Pollard comes to mind: “My feets is tired but my soul is at rest.”

  11. Kristin Brown says:

    After reading Alma 13, especially Alma 12:37; 16:17- It seems to be a place one must be worthy to enter.

  12. Deferring to Barney, but pretty sure the Hebrew usage connotes “glory.”

  13. Isn’t the relevant question: “Compared to what?”?

  14. What does this mean– “We no longer waste our time on ourselves.”

    Reading this gave me the courage to quit my calling.

    Not that quitting a calling always equals courage.

    But today it means I’m taking care of myself, so I can feel the rest/glory/refuge of the Lord.

  15. If “rest” is a future and present promise it must be more than a place. I would think it a state of being or becoming, given as a gift through the Savior’s grace. Maybe it is a part of the process of putting of the natural man and becoming a saint.
    I am not sure about the glory. Can we obtain glory in this life?
    glasscluster- If you have the courage to quite your calling wouldn’t you mainly go back to wasting time on yourself?

  16. You think your tired and used up because you entered into the Lord? Wait until you enter the rest of the Lord*. Then you’ll really find out the meaning of tired.

    *’rest’ here means ‘remainder’ as in “Eat the rest of your dinner.”

  17. Dear Barb,

    What an ignorant comment.

  18. Warning: rant

    Barb’s comment is a reason why people quit the Church.

    They’re sick of your assumption if we step down, we have a legitamate need to heal from raw wounds. Church isn’t the place to air my issues…and I don’t currently have the ability to keep it all together, like I am expected to do…by people like you…

    …who confuse needing to heal…with selfishness.

  19. glasscluster- I apologize. I did not mean to offend. I have felt overextended and worn out from callings myself. I am sorry.

  20. Adele Williams says:

    Thank you for helping me think and search. Had someone asked me what the word “rest” meant I don’t think I could have explained it well at all.
    Here is a definition for “Rest in the Lord” for both present and future by Joseph F. Smith:

    For Present-
    ‘It means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are right, and that we are not hunting for something else; we are not disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive.’ It is ‘rest from the religious turmoil of the world; from the cry that is going forth, here and there—lo, here is Christ; lo, there is Christ.’

    For Future:
    … The rest of the Lord, in eternity, is to inherit eternal life, to gain the fulness of the Lord’s glory.”2
    Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (1986), 139–40.

  21. Ojiisan says:

    BOM advises that, when we have sufficient faith and patience and trust in the Lord by submitting cheerfully to His will, He will ease our burdens such that we cannot feel them. This, in addition to conveying at least in part what is meant by his ‘burden is light”, may also provide some insights into what is meant by the “rest” of the Lord.

    Mosiah 24

    14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.

    15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.

    16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.

  22. Aussie Mormon says:

    Ojiisan’s comments tie-in with the construction concept of rest found in 1 Kings 6:6, where the beams are being supported by the rests in the walls, without being fastened to them. (This is definition #8 in webster’s 1828 dictionary)

  23. pconnornc says:

    Here’s my practical experience with the “day of rest”. I find that the last six days of the week are so stuffed worrying about temporal things – business, finances, maintaining temporal things, etc, that even though my Sabbath is often full of meetings, service, activities, etc, I find myself rejuvenated. For the most part these are things that are not about me or my temporal things, but they are about the Lord, others and spiritual things. Having that respite from the other demands and having a day about better/other things does work out to be rest. I love that when the Savior offers us “rest”, he doesn’t mention a couch or reclining chair, but a yoke :-)

  24. “My yoke is easy…” Matt 11:30 — I think the same Greek word is translated elsewhere in the KJV as “better” and as “kind” and as “gracious.” This suggests to me a custom fitted yoke — one that has been “eased” to fit.

    “…and my burden is light.” — To the extent this is not a mere parallelism that adds no meaning, perhaps it suggests that a yoke that fits makes it possible to experience the burden as light[er].

    Of course, all this raises the possibility that if the yoke [calling? 3 hour block? etc.] doesn’t fit or the burden is not light, then they are not His. E.g., the calling of a ward choir director who did not sing, had not sung in a choir, did not play any musical instrument, did not read music, and, with a young family, had no time to learn to do any of those things. Yep, that happened. Didn’t last long.

  25. It’s perplexing when comparing “rest” with the doctrine of “constant resistance,” for example as taught by President Oaks in April:

    “We are surrounded by media influences and cultural deteriorations that will carry us downstream in our values if we are not continually resisting. To move upstream toward our eternal goal, we must constantly keep paddling. It helps if we are part of a team that is paddling together, like a rowing crew in action. To extend that example even further, the cultural currents are so strong that if we ever stop paddling, we will be carried downstream toward a destination we do not seek but which becomes inevitable if we do not constantly try to move forward.”

    Does rest come later? Does resistance become restful? Or something else? I don’t know.

  26. As a musician, I think about tests differently. A ready may be a break, but it is not a suspension of labor. In fact sometimes it takes more effort to hold back than it would to sing or play through a rest. Also, a rest is not an ending; it often just gives us a moment to catch our breath before the music moves on.

  27. *rests* ^^^

  28. Bro. B. says:

    To me this gets to the principle of Grace. Once we’ve entered into the covenant with Christ, we can rest from fearful anticipation about the future, short and long term, because we can trust in His Grace to overcome all.

  29. The Other Aussie Mormon says:

    In D&C 84 we read about God’s desire for all of Israel to be sanctified. Verse 24 teaches us that
    “they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.”
    His rest is His glory. Moses 1:39 tells us that His work and his glory are to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. Therefore His work is His rest.
    D&C 77:12 indicates that “as God made the world in six days, and on the seventh day he finished his work, and sanctified it, and also formed man out of the dust of the earth”.
    This suggests that on His day of rest He performed His greatest work – He placed man on the earth in order for us to have an opportunity to enter His glory.
    Rest, glory, and work all seem to be the same to Him. And that seems to be the salvation of His children through grace.

  30. Gilgamesh says:

    From the title, I thought this post would inform us that right now we only have 2/3 of the Lord. We get the rest of the Lord when the final 3rd is unsealed and translated.

  31. Kristin Brown says:

    Other Aussie- Thank you for connecting rest, glory and work. The scriptures used brought it together for me.
    Thanks Steve for asking the question. The discussion expanded my understanding on a subject I had not stopped to think much about before this post.

  32. I find it easiest and most restful to resist improper media influences and cultural drift toward wickedness not by active resistance but by withdrawal and replacement. I simply avoid influences that need resistance. Then I feel rest. The other way of speaking up and protesting was too tiring.And I refuse to be crazy busy anymore. Not all church callings are needed. Not all require homemade casseroles. Learn to eat sandwiches on Sundays. Learn to share a video to the young women instead of teaching them to make soap. Simplify what you can.

  33. stephenchardy says:

    Can I offer a sobering thought? A church leader (former Stake President, Temple President, Mission President), and a college professor recently was speaking at our ward and he said:

    “Everything significant that I have accomplished in my life was done at the edge of exhaustion.”

    I have thought about that and wondered about it. He wasn’t really trying to tell us to do more. He seemed to be observing something about his life.

  34. I am thinking along the same lines as connor. The sabbath rest is being able to put aside the things of the world. We’re still busy, but doing different types of things. Think about a mission. Everyone knows it is a lot of work, whether or not you’ve been on one yourself. But it is a rest from the world. You literally leave everything else behind. You’re not trying to earn money, not dating, not going to school, etc. You focus completely on teaching, serving, and studying the gospel. Ironically Preparation Day once a week is kind of an inverted rest, where you do laundry, go sight-seeing, write a letter to your girlfriend/boyfriend and others you have left behind, etc. in a sort of rest from the Lord’s rest.

  35. After reading Alma 13 over and over again, could not entering into “the rest of the Lord” simply mean being redeemed? Alma teaches priests were ordained to teach the people by what manner they could look forward to the Son of God for redemption.
    Alma continues to teach the same message using “rest in the Lord” instead of the word redeemed. Just my take.

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