“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
God was busy “in the beginning”. He created the beginnings of all that now exists and then fashioned it to His liking in six days. On the seventh day He did something that seems extraordinary for God: He rested. Now why would God, who has limitless energy and power and who never grows weary or tired, need to rest? Actually, Moses gives us the answer: “He had finished the work He had been doing.” Our Creator didn’t rest out of fatigue; He rested out of satisfaction in a job well done.
There’s more to the story than God’s completed work, though. Notice that God carved out a unique day to memorialize His rest. He didn’t start the cycle of days over again at day one because there was nothing left to do. He went on to call it a seventh day and He blessed it, making it holy. [Remember that “holy” means special or set apart.] The seventh day “Sabbath” (which means “rest”) is built into the creation process.
It is true that God didn’t mandate a Sabbath observance to anyone (as far as we know) until He gave the Law to Israel (see Exodus 16:26-30 and 20:8-11), yet He certainly intended it for mankind’s good. Jesus affirmed the goodness of the Sabbath when He said that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
As those under the New Covenant in Christ, we are not bound by any command to observe the Sabbath as the Jews were told to do. In fact, the apostle Paul indicated that it was perfectly legitimate for some disciples of Jesus to consider every day alike rather than some days as sacred (Romans 14:5). Yet, knowing that the reality of the Sabbath was a part of the creation and came before the Law, we should take very seriously the part that rest is meant to play in the cycle of our lives.
Worshipful rest is something we should prioritize as a sign of our trust in the wisdom of God because He set the example for us on that first seventh day. But there is even more beautiful meaning pregnant in the idea of Sabbath. Gratefully, the writer of Hebrews brought it out for us to see (Hebrews 4:1-11). We find that the natural Sabbath described in Genesis 1 is ultimately fulfilled (like everything else) in Christ and the new creation. We who belong to Jesus are invited into a greater rest – a rest from our futile labor of endless works attempting to attain righteousness on our own. In Christ, His Spirit, His new covenant, and His Kingdom, we find that we can exert effort in becoming like Jesus even as we find rest in Him. After all, He is the One who offered this precious invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
So practice your natural cycle of rest, Disciple, and discover its many benefits. More urgently than that, though, be sure you are enjoying the ultimate rest that our Master offers your spirit. Be at peace with God – not based on your own strivings but based on your quiet trust in His work and promises. Let your efforts and work be the overflow of strength that comes from your true and enduring rest in what your Master has done.
At rest in His presence with you,