God Created Rest
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3
Have you ever thought about the fact that God rested? Why did He do that? We know that God is all-powerful. We know He never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121). He doesn’t grow weary (Isaiah 40:28). Yet, Scripture very clearly outlines the fact that after working for six days, He set a whole day aside to rest and cease from working.
In fact, this resting was such a big deal to God, that, when it came time for Moses to write down the things God wanted His people to do to set them apart from the rest of the world, a Sabbath day was one of those ten things. We rarely balk at any of the Ten Commandments: one God, no idols, no taking the name of God in vain, honor mom and dad, no murder, adultery, stealing, lying, or covetousness. For the most part, we are in agreement with God on these things. Sure, we may struggle from time to time in these areas because of our sin nature, but we know they are wrong, and that God has set these commands up for our good. However, for some reason, we tend to question the validity of the Sabbath commandment, and if we’re honest, we often don’t think about Sabbath at all.
I know I didn’t think about Sabbath very often. I certainly did look forward to days off, and I was fairly consistent in taking them every week. But, my thoughts and actions spoke of a view of Sabbath that God did not intend. Sabbath was a day to serve me; a day to catch up on stuff that had been neglected at home; a day to indulge in laziness; a day for entertainment-seeking. My theology of Sabbath was way out of wack.
I believe our all-powerful God took a day of rest as an example for us, and to continue His creating even in rest. He was creating a rhythm for us. He, not needing the rest, created us and knew us so intimately that He knew we would need it. He was creating in us a dependence upon Him. He could have said to us, “Work every day because there is so much to do and you only have so many days on this planet. So use every day to the fullest!” But instead, He modeled for us that there is one day a week where we need to show our faith and dependence upon Him. My ceasing to work shows that I know that I’m not God, and I know that He is. When I don’t work, I’m trusting that He is working for me. When I’m resting, He is at work in ways I cannot see. Sabbath shows that I know that the world does not rest on my shoulders; it truly rests in His capable hands.
So, what does it show Him when I keep working and going, and simply ignore Sabbath? Does it show my lack of faith in believing that His design is better than my desires? Does it show that I’m foolish in thinking that I’m exempt from the need to stop and rest? Does it show that I think way too highly of my importance as the “chief cog” in whatever wheel I find myself in? It just might…
Work 6. Rest 1.
Our culture champions people who work 80-hour work weeks, and elevates them as having a great work ethic and as “committed” to whatever cause they may have. But at what cost? What do their home lives look like? What do their personal relationships look like? What does their relationship with the Lord look like? Maybe we should start pushing one another toward working hard in a more biblical way.
During my recent Sabbatical, the Lord began to press into me many of these deficiencies in my thinking and theology of Sabbath. I began realizing that I needed to work hard six days a week. Five of those days I work in my role as Worship Pastor at Harvest, and one day is solely committed to working for and with my family and home. As a result, my day off really needed to become a Sabbath day with a different thinking and heart mindset towards that day. We are asking questions for Sabbath days like, “Is this activity restorative?”, “Is it restful?”, “Does it renew, deepen and strengthen my relationship with the Lord and/or my family?”, “Does it continue to develop a dependence upon the Lord?”, “Is it reveling in the pleasures that God generously gives to his children?”, “Is it truly ceasing from work?” To be completely honest, we are still continuing our journey with this Sabbath day that seems to elude us so often, and yet, the conviction of keeping a biblical Sabbath drives us toward exploring how to do it well.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus lets us know that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” What a generous and amazing gift God gave to us through rest. It was meant for our good, our joy, and our health to be able to, as Hebrews says, “…run this race with endurance…” How is your Sabbath-keeping displaying your dependence and trust in God and His design for your life? I know for me, it has spoken of some unhealthy heart conditions, yet grace abounds and the “race” is not yet over. By His grace, I will keep pressing on to understand how to “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…” (Deuteronomy 5:12).
If you are interested in reading more about how having a Sabbath rhythm can make an impact on your life I would encourage you to check out this book.