Rest and work. I’ve been thinking about both these things lately. It might be because it’s summertime and it naturally feels like rhythms should change. Maybe slow down? Maybe. It might be because I just completed a brief Bible study devotion about rest. It’s an intriguing concept for me and I imagine it’s somewhat of an enigma for many of us. We Americans have a love/hate relationship with rest.
We are very busy people. I don’t need to convince anyone of that. However, we have also developed (in an unhealthy way, I believe) an obsession with non-worked related activities. We have quite possibly mistaken these extracurricular activities for rest. But they aren’t the rest that God prescribes for us.
God commands his people to take a sabbath rest in Exodus 20.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 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. 11 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
We need rest. Physically, I mean. God modeled something for us that he, himself, did not need. He sets an example for us. Jesus did this constantly. He tells his disciples that he is setting an example for them to do as he has done (John 13). Jesus often withdrew from his work to rest with his Father. This is why you take beach vacations or go to the mountains. You and I are created to long for rest; to unplug and unwind. That being said, we still have a hard time doing it. We check email, Facebook, and Instagram constantly. We consider our out-of-town sports tournament as a “vacation.” As Americans, it’s hard to take pause and rest when we could be accomplishing something or making money.
God created our bodies, and our bodies are not disconnected from the other parts of us. God knew we would need physical rest and so he built that into the rhythms of life for his sons and daughters. He did this so that we might have the posture of heart for sabbath. There is a deeply spiritual reason for you and me to practice sabbath.
Read Hebrews 4:1-12.
The writer is talking about the Jews who have responded to the Gospel and those who have not. Many will hear the Gospel but not mix it with faith. The author is setting side-by-side the rest that God promised his people when he brought them out of Egypt and into the promised land and the rest of soul, body, mind, and heart that we find in surrendering our lives to Jesus. He may also be hinting toward the rest of heaven. Hebrews 4 doesn’t separate sabbath from also resting in God’s Word and in prayer. They are inextricably linked.
When we take a sabbath day to rest from our work, we tune our hearts to Jesus. One commentator on Hebrews said it like this:
We enter into a blessed union with Christ, and into a communion with God through Christ; in this state we actually enjoy many sweet communications of pardon of sin, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace and earnests of glory, resting from the servitude of sin, and reposing ourselves in God till we are prepared to rest with him in heaven.
Sabbath is an intentional act of releasing one thing and grasping another. It is a decision of the will to surrender to Jesus. It is an act of worship. It fulfills a deep longing of the heart. It is a step of obedience.
How will you sabbath this summer? How can you build this rhythm into your life?
Elder Nomination: Please be sure to check out thewocc.com/elders to nominate men who may serve at elders in 2024. Your participation in this process is important to us and to our leadership.
White Oak Christian Church