Sabbath Rest

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” Genesis 2:2-3
It is typically the first step in teaching Sabbath Rest to point to the fact that even God rested on the seventh day. After His “hard” work in creating all that exists, God took a day off. 
Initially, hearing that I should rest because God rested didn’t quite track for me. God never actually labored. Even speaking all that is into existence, from nothing, was not enough for God to break a sweat. His omnipotence makes it impossible for Him to grow weary. He did not know what it meant to painfully toil and eat by the sweat of His brow. So why did God rest? He wasn’t tired, but He chose rest. This tells us a couple things.

First, it helps us understand rest, especially as it was intended before sin. Rest necessitates work, but it does not require exhaustion. Setting a day aside for Sabbath does not excuse six days of unhealthy working. God rested without being tired, so it’s ok for you to rest without being tired. Yes, we are to toil for six days, but that does not mean that work is our god for six days. God is Lord of the Sabbath, and Lord of the Work Week.
Second, it teaches us something about God that will help us rest. If we believe that God knows all things, then He knew that His good creation was not going to stay good. In fact, He knew all that was going to happen, ever. The crown of His creation would rebel, He would redeem them, and establish a greater perfection by reuniting God and man in perfect communion in eternity. There were seemingly plenty of ways for Him to spend this day and yet, He chose to rest. He was so supremely confident that He would fulfill all His purposes that He rested. We serve a God who’s not worried that a good thing might not get done.

An interesting thing I learned as I entered fatherhood was that infants, when being held, modulate their heart rate according to the heart rate of their caregiver. So when one month old Susie was screaming at 2am, I convinced myself that the key to getting her to calm down and go to sleep was for me to exemplify a slow heart rate. If I could stay calm, maybe she would stay calm, too. God does this by showing Himself to be unhurried. He’s not tired or falling short. He’s not overwhelmed by the “problems” that face Him. He will not grow weary, nor will His purposes fail. Therefore, He is a God who can rest. And because our Father can rest, we can rest too.
If God can rest because His responsibilities are in control, then when God calls me to rest maybe I can take a step back and accept that my email inbox will be ok for one day. If God asks me to cease from my work once a week, it is good for me to obey Him. If it is good for me to cease work, then anything I miss out on by resting would not have been good for me.

Psalm 84:11 says, “The LORD God is a sun and shield…no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly before Him”. If it is true that ceasing from my striving is commanded by God, then I can trust that there is “no good thing” being withheld from me in obeying Him. In fact, as I begin to reorient what I think of as a “good thing” around God instead of around the world, I start to see that Sabbath might not be quite so hard. Maybe it’s not all about adding more structure to my life, but letting go. It is about me, a screaming one month old for most of the time, letting go of my concerns and leaning into my big God and Father who is unhurried and perfectly working out His good plans in my life and in all creation.

1 Comment

Chris - May 17th, 2024 at 1:47pm

Love this reframing Will of what the text is really saying and the motivation behind Sabbath rest being to rest into the arms of our unhurried and powerfully peaceful God. Thanks for writing this blog!