It was the end of a grueling week. It was nearly twenty years ago and my colleagues and I were completing an assignment at a remote laboratory at the request of my partners. We were putting in 12-14 hour days and my nerves were frayed. I was so exhausted I literally could not sleep, my mind racing, reviewing the issues and problems of the day. Even the weekends were not relaxing. The workload was so oppressive, we needed to work on Saturday and Sunday just to catch up with our backlog of work. On Sunday morning, my colleague turned to me and said, “Dude! We need to rest! Even God rested on the seventh day!”
I heartily agreed and we took the rest of the day off. The remaining cases would have to wait until Monday. We needed to rest. After all, even God rested, right?
But why would God need to rest?
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV)
The first three commandments focus upon man’s relationship to God. The commandment to keep the Sabbath is the fourth commandment. The remaining six commandments focus upon man’s relationship with his neighbor. God first brings us into a relationship with Him. He gives us time to ponder the splendor of His Majesty. Then, we are to take His blessings and bless others out of gratitude. Simple formula. God in. Rest. God out. We labor from rest, not rest from labor. It is a critical distinction.
God does not need to rest. We do. He created the Sabbath so that we understand the importance to set aside a day or time to rest in Him. We reflect upon Him to restore our energy and bestow His love unto others. In times of physical and mental stress, I need to be deliberate and take time to rest in God. Sadly, I frequently neglect this commandment of God. I convince myself that I can never labor enough in my job or role as a father or husband. After all, isn’t this what God has called me to be? Am I not doing God’s work when I labor for Him? Yes. But God also asks me to rest and in my hypercompetitive and sinful disobedience, I have twisted and ignored God’s command to rest in Him. The result is a life that is not filled with the Holy Spirit, but filled with drudgery.
Praise God that He loves all of us so deeply that He commands us to rest in Him!
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.