I went to bed at 9:00 last night. 9:00! On a Friday night! I remember “back in the day” just getting ready to head out for the evening at 9:00 and now, here I am, hitting the sack! Truth is, I’ve had a busy week and I’m tired. I need some rest. I need to sleep.
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”Genesis 2:2 NASB
I find it rather fascinating that the concept of “rest” originated at creation with the Creator Himself. Here, in Genesis, at the conclusion of His creative work, God takes a whole day to rest. What did He do on that day? Why does God need to rest? As I ponder this, my mind fills itself with questions that Scripture does not answer. And I know that the fact that Scripture does not answer them means that those questions really aren’t all that important. Which leaves me with…God’s action. His example. His rest.
Do you ever feel like our society has dismissed the notion of a day of rest; that society considers taking a day to rest a waste of time? I do, sometimes, and that is a huge mistake. Scripture does offer some additional insight:
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work… For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”
Exodus 20:8-11 NASB
So now we have God’s example and we have God’s command. We are told to rest and to keep the seventh day holy. So, what does that mean? In this busy, 24/7 world in which we live, what are we to do with that?
I remember watching a movie years ago in which a Christian family of 1800’s vintage spent a Sunday afternoon sitting in chairs staring at the walls. They had gone to church, and now they were trying their best to obey God’s command to rest. They were not allowed to speak. The children, if they fidgeted, received a stern look from their father. And there they sat. All afternoon. Is that what God wants? As well intended as I believe these parents were, I think they missed the mark.
Jesus, Himself, was criticized by the Pharisees for “working” on the Sabbath day. First, His disciples had the gall to pluck heads of grain and eat them as they walked through grain fields on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1ff). Wait – Jesus and His disciples are walking on the Sabbath! Jesus rebukes the Pharisees’ rebuke and continues on to the synagogue. Inside, He encounters a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees ask Jesus if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Jesus answers with a question (I love it when He does that) and proceeds to heal the man’s hand which, of course, sent the Pharisees straight over the edge. (See Matthew 12:1-14)
I think the Pharisees would have liked that 1800’s family. But we see here that, like the 1800’s family in the movie, the Pharisees missed the mark. What we see here is so much bigger than my decision on how to spend my day of rest. Here, we see Law and Gospel. Sin and Grace. Condemnation and Redemption. Jesus, the perfect fulfillment of the Law, provides the answer to my dilemma.
One of the commitments I’ve made for 2019 is to be deliberate in seeking rest; Taking one one day to unplug from work and give my mind a break from what it spends so much time doing most of the week. Just as God gave Himself a break from His work of creation, I am committed to taking a break from the toils of my daily work. I’m not staring at walls. I’m not maintaining silence. I’m doing something different.
You see, I am best equipped to do my best work when I show up in the morning well rested and reenergized. And so are you. Do you get enough rest? Are you able to unplug? It is important. When we rest from our work, everybody wins.
Soli DEO Gloria!
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