The Bible emphasizes the importance of hard work as a part of humanity’s responsibility to God (Gen. 2:15, 3:19). However, for all that God teaches about the nobility of work he also emphasizes the need for humans to rest. Rest is not for the weak and fragile, rest is for the finite. Here are a few things to consider in regard to what the Bible teaches us about our need for rest.
- At the conclusion of creation God rested (Gen. 2:1-2). When we are told that God rested this should not be taken to mean that God was tired, but instead that he was satisfied. God was pleased with his creative work, and he ceased to create. There is a time to be satisfied with all that we have done or are able to do and to cease working.
- God commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath day as a holy day (Exod. 20:8-11). Israel was to sanctify the Sabbath day and refrain from any work because God hallowed the Sabbath. Israel was to mirror God’s rest and keep the Sabbath day holy.
- God also commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath day as holy because they were slaves in Egypt, but God delivered them from bondage with a mighty hand (Deut. 5:12-15). Israel was in bondage in Egypt and God did not want them to become slaves to their work when they entered the promised land. The Sabbath served to remind Israelites that just because they stopped working once a week that did not mean the world would spiral out of control (Psa. 145:16-17). When we rest we remind ourselves that God is in control of everything, and we are not and that is good news (Psa. 121:1-8).
- Jesus rested and encouraged his disciples to do the same (Matt. 8:24; Mark 6:31). Jesus was fatigued in his humanity and saw fit to rest. After his disciples engaged in long hours of ministry work he encouraged them to rest too. Jesus worked harder than anyone else who has ever lived but he did not neglect rest. He wanted his disciples to rest too. Being Jesus’ disciples today means we need to take time to rest and recharge.
- A heavenly rest remains (Hebrews 4:9-11). Every period of rest we enjoy today is a shadow of the heavenly rest to come. Heaven is described as a Sabbath rest coming for God’s faithful children. If we feel we must always be busy we will miss out on one of the ways God communicates the beauty of our eternal joy to come, he does so through rest.
For those going out of town for fall break enjoy the time of rest. Let us all take time for rest, vacations, unplugging, and relaxation. As we rest let us reflect on the goodness of God and his continued work and care for his world and his people. Let us rest here with our eyes toward the eternal rest that awaits us.