It actually comes from the Bible, in Isaiah 48:22. In our modern NIV translation it reads as ‘”there is no peace,” says the LORD ‘for the wicked”’. In context it’s a word of judgment against the enemies of God and his people. Those who continue to oppose God will ultimately have a rest-less existence.
It’s not about being busy. It’s about missing out on the rest-full life that God created all people to enjoy.
The theme of rest begins in Genesis 2 when God rests from creating the world and blesses this day of rest for people to enjoy with him. The writer to the Hebrews in chapters 3 and 4 says that this rest God created remains open for all who believe, but closed to those who are hard-hearted towards him.
In the light of the cross, that means that the rest God created us for is only available through believing in Jesus. If we refuse to believe in Jesus, trusting our lives to him, we miss out on the eternal rest that God has made us to enjoy with him.
There is no eternal rest for those who refuse to believe in Jesus. That’s what the saying means.
We all need rest. Many of us lead busy lives. And so we seek to make the most of our rest time. However we fool ourselves when we think that we’ll ever be able to achieve rest like the eternal rest only Jesus brings in this life. If we’re looking for the perfect, peaceful, restful life now – in the leisure activities we pursue, in holidays, in retirement, etc. – we will always be disappointed.
The rest we’re rightly longing for can only be found in a right relationship with God through faith in Jesus that leads to the life of eternal rest – rest from not only the busyness of this life, but from the thing that prevents us from true rest in this life – our sin. The first people lost the enjoyment of God’s rest when they sinned. Life has been wearying for all people ever since because we, like them, are sinners.
But Jesus brings true rest for the wicked – for weary sinners like us.
In Christ’s love,