Summary: Physical rest and spiritual rest are essential for each and every one of us. God has given you the freedom to choose to rest, to be still, to know that God is God.
We continue in our series on Hope Found Here and it’s apt that this month we are going to be thinking about resting and relaxing in God.
“Rest” is defined as “peace, ease or refreshment.” “Relax” means “to become loose or less firm, to have a milder manner, to be less stiff.”
What does the Bible say about rest?
Rest is an important theme that is spoken of throughout the Word of God. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks about the importance of rest starting with the creation week in Genesis: On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)
After six days of creation, God looks at what He has made, the work of His hands, and says it is very good. Then on the seventh day God calls something “holy”, the Sabbath, the day of rest which God places into the time and space of His creation.
Holy is a very small word that has a lot of meaning: dedicated, sacred, consecrated, hallowed, sanctified, venerated, revered, reverenced, divine, blessed, dedicated.
Holiness is at the very centre of God’s character, and God gives the day of rest the same attribution of holiness.
Do you see the importance God places on rest, on the Sabbath?
In the modern world, rest has lost it’s importance. In the modern world, rest is considered the opposite of productivity. Some people think of rest as something they have to do so that they can regain the energy to work. A day of rest has become just a functional necessity, to serve our working lives, instead of honouring the higher meaning and significance of the Sabbath.
In Genesis 2 God works and then rests. God is omnipotent, God is all powerful, God does not need to rest for reasons of physical tiredness or exhaustion. God does not need to rest so He can become more productive, after six days God has already created everything in the universe.
God chooses to rest, to pause, to stop and relax, to give us a perfect example of what we should do ourselves. At first God gives mankind an example to follow. But men and women often think they know better than God and people chose to ignore God’s example of rest. So in The Ten Commandments, God made resting on the Sabbath a requirement of the Law, listen to Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
The foundational truth of this, the fourth commandment, is based on God’s pattern of working six days and resting on the seventh, it is a truth that makes an explicit link between creation and observing the Sabbath, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested.”
Perhaps because people ignore the truth of how God created everything and then rested they think it is acceptable to ignore the Sabbath as well.
Notice God said, “Remember to observe” it wasn’t something new; since creation began, all of God’s people and their servants and the animals were to have one day in seven to rest. Maybe if more people believed the truth of creation then more people would understand the importance of a day of rest, a day set apart as Holy for the Lord.
The command to rest was not and is not an excuse to be lazy. You work for six days, get to the Sabbath and then rest. If God makes something a commandment for His people, then it must be a vital and important component of our lives.
Do you understand how serious God is about the importance of rest? Perhaps you need a little more encouragement, Exodus 31:16-17, “The people of God must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with my people. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He stopped working and was refreshed.’”