Rest For The Weary
The hustle and bustle of everyday life can be quite overwhelming at times. We have appointments to go here or there. We have a huge meeting to prepare for. We have to take one kid to football practice and the other to dance class, while still trying to find the time to make sure that dinner is ready by the time we pick them up. That has become the epidemic of western culture. There is always something to keep us busy, and very rarely do we take the time to slow down.
How can we slow down? Between our jobs, our families, and our various other activities there is very little time, if any, left to take a breather. There are seven days in a week and every minute of every one of those days is filled up. The unfortunate thing about all of this is that we have missed God’s intention for us in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…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 1:1; 2:1-3).
The very first story of a busy life is not centered around a human, but around God himself. God saw the chaos and determined to bring from nothing the beauty of creation. He separated light from dark, earth from sky, water from land, and raised all of the creatures in the oceans, in the sky, and on land. That is quite a hefty job. Although God spoke the entire universe into existence by his Word alone, he surveyed his creation, saw that it was very good, and consecrated the seventh day as one of rest.
This is the Lord Almighty, who sustains the entirety of the cosmos and all things within, even he took a day to rest. This is not merely a descriptive passage of Scripture, but prescriptive, meaning that it contains an implied command. This mandate was reiterated when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. “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” (Exodus 20:10).
God instituted the Sabbath so that all might have a day to rest from their toils and draw closer to him through that rest. This is not meant to be oppressive. It is not the same kind of Sabbath that does not allow one to cook or press buttons on the elevator, as is common in Orthodox Judaism. It was not created to keep us from being productive. In fact, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). The day of rest is a gift from our heavenly Father. It was made so that we might have at least one day a week to settle down and rest in him. On that day, we can enjoy his blessings and experience his presence and cast all of our cares upon him.
We all have important things going on in our lives, but how important are they really? Is the world really going to end if we take a day off? I would venture to say that not only will the world survive on our days off, but that we in our work will be much more productive during the week if we regularly practice the Sabbath. This is not an arbitrary command to hold us down. It is a blessing that God has given for our good. Let us take hold of that blessing. Let us rest from our toils. Let us consecrate that day to him.