“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. … 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 2:1, 3)
In the spirit of full disclosure, this is being written late on a Friday afternoon near the middle of a semester. I hope I will be excused if the theme of rest is just a little self-serving, but I will not apologize for thinking on this biblical principle. What can we learn about rest?
Rest follows work. In Genesis 1, God took a look at what had been created to that point and he declared it to be good and when he looked at the creation of humanity, he declared it to be very good. In Genesis 2:1, when everything was done, he paused from his work and rested. Too often, we want to rest before we have really accomplished anything. That is not to say that we did not work; yes, we expended energy, we stayed at the desk, we were in the library, but there is a tendency to rest before the task is accomplished. The idea here is that something, in this case the creation, has been finished. How deep is our rest when a task has truly been accomplished! We do not toss and turn, there is no nagging thought – it is done.
Rest is good for us, whether we want it or not. Some have said that a child’s nap time is not for the child but for the parents, and there may be some truth to that, but rest is needed. We know that God did not need the rest himself but he blessed the seventh day and he set it apart. Like in so many other cases, he did it for our good and not for our oppression.
Think of it: a day to rest, to worship, to be encouraged from God’s word, to bear one another’s burdens, to serve others, to allow people to pray for us? The Old Testament is replete with rests, including for people (Genesis 1:3), for livestock (Exodus 20:10) and even for crops (Exodus 23:10). No kind and thinking person would overwork an employee, or ride a horse until it dropped over and we even let crops lay fallow so that they will continue to produce. Do we, however, take such care of ourselves and embrace a time of rest?
Rest reminds us that we can trust God for time. Christian people are generous people, giving to their churches, to social needs and to their community because they understand that money is limited but that they can trust God to stretch what remains. Often, I find myself thinking that if I do not do “it” (whatever “it” might be), then “it” will not get done. If we allow ourselves to rest, we are acknowledging God’s kingship over us and we are trusting in him instead of our own strength (Proverbs 3:5-6). That rest allows God to grant us wisdom to sort out the complexities that we might be prone to try and handle on our own.
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