When you think of rest, what springs to mind? If you’re like me you’ll be thinking about an absence of stresses and suffering.
The name “Noah” means rest. But the one called Rest does not come in the context of peace and safety. It was in the midst of death and curse that the promised child was born.
“Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: 29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” (Genesis 5:28-29)
Lamech was very aware that the whole creation is groaning under divine judgement. The world is “rigged for frustration” as one writer has put it.
And it’s still rigged for frustration. The curse is all around us in broken lives, broken relationships. A broken world.
What do we do about that? We might pretend that the curse is not really so bad. We might whistle through the grave-yard to keep up our spirits. We might despair and settle down in the rubble to await the inevitable. We might trust to our wealth and resourcefulness to side-step the curse.
But Lamech does something different. He doesn’t minimize the awfulness of a broken world – he acknowledges the work and toil, the death and curse. He doesn’t pretend to master the situation out of his own resources. And he doesn’t resign himself to the chaos.
Instead Lamech looks the darkness in the eye, but with a defiant ‘nevertheless’ he believes in rest and peace. And so he names his boy “Rest.”
Lamech, like Adam and Eve before him, looked expectantly to his offspring in the light of that original promise of Christ (Genesis 3:15). Christ would be the ultimate answer to the darkness, and so His people anticipated His coming eagerly.
Eve wanted her first offspring to be the One. But she gave birth to an anti-christ figure in Cain – a perverse firstborn who kills and so furthers the curse.
Lamech’s offspring is different, but will point to the Messiah in his own way. Noah is not the Christ but he is a christ-figure. This one called “Rest” would save the world through judgement. And all who would seek peace on the far side of judgement would seek refuge in him.
Here we see the way that true rest comes. Not apart from the curse but through it, in fact through cosmic judgement. Salvation means finding safety. It means looking to the Peacemaker and being hidden with Him.
In this way we will find rest. Not by making peace with this broken world. Not by diminishing our hopes for wholeness and life. But by looking through the toil and death around us. In fact looking through the coming judgement which will cleanse the world. We look to true and eternal rest on the other side of judgement because we look to Christ and hide in Him.