The Vikings of Scandinavia achieved world-renown in the 8th century. They were skilled navigators who didn’t think twice about leaving their homes for faraway destinations, and it was they who discovered Iceland, Greenland, and even Canada, making landfall in Newfoundland!
Initially Viking voyages were peaceful in nature. They generally traveled from Spring to Fall, trading for gold, silk, spices, and wine. Unfortunately, peace is so easily forgotten. The Vikings eventually gained renowned as bloodthirsty barbarians who had no respect for lives. Why? Because the peaceful trading missions were not enough! In 793 A.D. they plundered an English monastery, which provided them with unheard treasures, and motivated them to continue their plunder all over Europe!
Even though the Vikings were considered barbarians, they were actually quite sophisticated. Who else in Europe in those times washed themselves at least once a week? At least they were less smelly than most men in Europe!
God’s creative work was also designed with complete peace and rest in mind: “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2-3, NIV2)
Even though man had just been created on the 6th day, and thus had hardly no time to learn the meaning of the word “work” (Besides, work in paradise is quite different from the stressful work we know nowadays!), man’s first day on Earth was spent in a day of rest with His Maker.
Interestingly enough, unlike the first 6 days where “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31, NIV2), there is no mention of any evening nor morning during this day of Sabbath rest. Is it possible that God had planned for us a restful “repose” (French for “rested”, “completely relaxed”) from that day onward? This wouldn’t surprise me at all, for God has fore-planned a restful “repose” for us for eternity, once we reach heaven.
That kind of rest is available even today. Jesus is truly our rest (See Matt 11:28). The only problem is that we often get in the way. We like to be in control, and as long as we hold on to the reins, rest will be no more than an unattainable vapor. It is often too late when we realize that we are the most vulnerable when we are “in charge”. But something happens when we declare and fully endorse that Jesus is our Lord: We find ourselves relieved from our burdens and our worries!
Speaking of worries, the Viking problem was quite heavy on the minds of Europeans. Plunder, rape and utter destruction is never fun. Our worries in our day and age aren’t exactly a “cup of tea” either. Why is depression on the rise? Don’t we all hunger for peaceful rest, for the removal of these burdens that seem like boulders ready to squash us out of existence?
In Eden, worry was non-existent. God took care of all of His creation. Unfortunately this peaceful and restful time was interrupted when our original parents decided that their plans seemed much more attractive than God’s. Their ultimate rest was interrupted, and shame, suffering and worry replaced what they once experienced as idyllic “repose”.
“He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'” (Genesis 3:10, NIV2)
That day worry was born on planet Earth, and it is to remain as long as man holds on to control. Did you notice that in Adam’s response, he is no longer referring to God, but he stresses the “I hid”, and “I was afraid”? We become estranged from the One we truly can give restful repose when we insist on our own agenda.
God though didn’t leave Adam and Eve utterly hopeless. He gave humanity a promise of rest restored when He declared: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15, NIV2)
We will explore that promise in the light of restful “repose”, and we will explore how to claim it even today. God’s provisions are out of this world!
Oh no! Vikings ahead!
We have other options than anxiety and worry. Discover God’s wonderful promise of real rest! Even Vikings are no match for God!
(To access the entire “Restful Repose” devotional series, please click here.)