Ain't NO Rest for the Wicked

So I was having one of those rare moments where I’m all alone driving.  That’s right: cool, thirty-something mom cruisen’ the highway in her minivan with the windows down—in search of a good song. I landed on a ditty by Cage the Elephant, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.  If you’ve heard it, you know it has a great beat for trying to pretend you’re in any other car than a minivan.  But of course, I’m a housewife theologian so I end up analyzing the song.  Lead singer, Matt Shultz, sings from the perspective of a guy on his way home, approached by a prostitute, then mugged, only to go home and see a preacher on the news arrested for stealing from his church.  When he asks the prostitute and the mugger why they are resorting to their acts, their response is the chorus: You know there ain’t no rest for the wicked, Money don’t grow on trees, We got bills to pay We got mouths to feed                                                                                                    Ain’t nothing in this world for free. Oh no We can’t slow down, We can’t hold back Though you know we wish we could. You know there ain’t no rest for the wicked, Until we close our eyes for good.  After the preacher is arrested, the singer concludes: But even still I can’t say much Because I know we’re all the same, Oh yes we all seek out to satisfy those thrills… And back to the chorus.  I certainly agreed that there ain’t no rest for the wicked.  Although, it is such a horrific truth that I didn’t feel comfortable singing it in my “cool mode.”  I’ve already written an article on active rest for the believer, so that may be a good precursor to this one.  I began thinking how everyone wants rest.  What a great promise it is for the Christian to have eternal rest in Christ.  And what a great gift we have in this present world of suffering to be given Sunday: a day of rest from our labors, a taste of our eschatological hope to be fed and clothed by our Savior.  We rest in the efforts of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  I thought about how to witness to the lead singer: anyone who relies on their own efforts is wicked.  He was right in his conclusion about the human condition—total depravity.  But Shultz was wrong about one thing.  The wicked can never close their eyes for good; therefore they will never have rest.  Rev. 14 explains that the wicked shall “drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.  He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.  And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night...” (10-11a).   My Spurgee preached about this torment: But what is sin to be in the next state?  We have gone so far, but sin is a thing that cannot stop.  We have seen whereunto it has grown, but whereunto will it grow? For it is not ripe when we die; it has to go on still; it is set going, but it has to unfold itself forever.  The moment we die, the voice of justice cries, “Seal up the fountain of blood; stop the stream of forgiveness; he that is holy, let him be holy still; he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.”  And after that, the man goes on growing filthier and filthier still; his lust develops itself, his vice increases; all those evil passions blaze with tenfold more fury, and, amidst the companionship of others like himself, without the restraints of grace, without the preached word, the man becomes worse and worse; and who can tell whereunto his sin may grow?...What I am when death is held before me, that I must be forever…Where death leaves me, judgment finds me.  As I die, so shall I live eternally (Spurgeon’s Sermons, Vol. 1, Thoughts on the Last Battle, p. 283-4).  How scary is that?  Just as Sunday is a taste of the believer’s heavenly rest in Christ, the unbeliever’s constant restlessness in their own efforts is a taste of their eternal state.  Here is an opportunity for us to share the good news of the gospel to those tired of struggling in their own efforts.  Our own attempts at righteousness and joy always fail.  Out of love for our neighbor, we can’t let them be fooled into thinking one day they can close their eyes for good and that’s it.   So there went my “cool moment.”  Am I the only one who kills a cruisen’ buzz?