Having a break on the weekend is one of those protestant work ethic thingo’s that we, in the west, take for granted without really considering where the idea comes from. Lazy Sunday mornings, reading the paper and getting a bit of R&R fill social media status updates every week. Most are ignorant, blissfully so, that resting on the weekend is derived from the concept of Sabbath. God created the universe in 6 days then rested on the 7th and so the fourth commandment (of the famous 10!) tell us:
“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 to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and 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
Biblically, “Rest” is not just a time of physical recuperation. To rest, is to stop, cease from, work. As you do this, you must, of necessity, trust God to meet your needs and rely upon him instead of your own efforts to earn or cultivate. You set aside your pursuit of gain and actively reflect upon and worship God.
“Rest” becomes an act of entry into a state of victory, symbolic of our salvation rest. (c.f. Josh 1:13; & Deut 25:19) If you rely solely on your own effort, then your job is never done and you can never stop, never rest, never sleep. There must at some point, even if you cannot articulate it or insist on attributing it otherwise, that you trust God enough to allow you to rest and sleep and protect you from being beaten and overwhelmed by your work.
For the Christian, weekly rest is much more than an opportunity to sleep in, attend Church or pursue recreation. It is a reminder that you are finite and cannot endure to work enough to provide everything for yourself and your family. It is a release from attempting to control your life and turning it over to God.
Only someone with confidence in the sovereignty of God can truly enjoy rest, sleep and relaxation. Because God in his providence is the one who is committed to preserving his creation and guiding it for and towards his purpose.
The cycles of rest in the ceremonial calendar of the Jews point us to how God is our refuge – place of rest and security. They also point us to a final rest, a fulfilment of the work of obedience to God’s law and provision of a place of eternal rest. Our sin and disobedience prevents us from entering that rest. As we harden our hearts in disbelief we will fail to enter the rest God provides. Not a physical rest – a spiritual rest.
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, “Come to me all who labor & are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … you will find rest for your souls.”
Unbelief denies the comfort this pillow offers though.
So today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, Hebrews 4:11, “Let us strive to enter that rest.”