Rest. This word feels distant and uncommon to so many today. If you are a young mom, you laugh when someone tells you to rest because you know how impossible that seems to do. As a young, stay-at-home mom, my days consist of watching the kids, playing with them, feeding, them, teaching them, and making sure they don’t die. On top of that, it seems like the one time you can rest (sleep) is disrupted by crying children in the night. This is the same for those moms that work full-time. In fact, it may seem even more impossible to rest after you have worked a full day because of the things that grab your attention, such as: household chores, time with children and spouse, and other life activities. Rest is often something we desire, yet don’t believe is achievable.
I feel like often we miss the true purpose of rest. In many cases, we rest when we are at our last end and need time to ourselves just to function another day. I have been there. Being in full-time ministry, pregnant with two littles, and having the crazy summer we have had with Titus’ diagnoses, I was there. My exhaustion reached a point to where I didn’t even desire to speak to others. It was in this time that I decided I needed to dig deeper and truly understand what true, biblical rest entailed. I have had to relearn this summer that I was not created to be independent and do everything on my own. I was created to be dependent on Christ, because He is Lord of all and does not need anyone’s help to function.
The Purpose of Rest
The beauty of rest is found in its purpose for our lives. God created rest for us. In Genesis, after He created the world and everything in it, God rested on what we call the Sabbath Day. We read, “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 (Gen. 2:3). The Hebrew word for holy is “qadash,” which means ‘to consecrate’, or ‘to set apart’. This is the same word that is used to describe how priest were set apart in the Old Testament. This means the Sabbath day is not supposed to look like the other six days of the week.
Why would God institute the Sabbath? The purpose of the Sabbath was for our sanctification and a means by which God would work through us for His glory. From the beginning of time, God created the Sabbath day with the purpose of us being able to rest in God’s promises and truth.
In Isaiah 58:13-14 the prophet says,
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; If you honor it, not going your own ways or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly, then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make your ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
These verses are filled with truth and comfort for our lives. God wants us to remember & observe the Sabbath (Ex.20:8). He wants us to delight in it and honor it, primarily because he commands it, but also because we need it. However, if we’re not careful, we will abuse the gift of the Sabbath and treat it as if it’s just another Saturday. I am under the impression that the Sabbath is to be observed on the Lord’s Day (Sunday, Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 16:1-2, Rev. 1:10) and is to be observed as a means by which God sanctifies us.
Too often, however, we believe that the Sabbath is to be a day of idle boringness. We may believe the lie that rest means idleness, and in our action-driven world, idleness seems to be unproductive and an abuse of one’s time. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Observing biblical rest does not mean that one must sit around and do nothing.
The Blessings of Rest
According to Isaiah 58, the Sabbath was a day to seek the welfare of those that we influence (v.3), a means to encourage family harmony (v.4), a day to care for the needy (v.7), a day to work for social reformation (v.6), and a day to take up both private and public exercises of worship. This is more than a day of boredom, but one that is set apart for resting in the Lord and His work. It brings renewal (Isaiah 58:8), a cure for depression (v.10), promotes spiritual refreshment (v.11), delight (v.14), and bringing the promise of security (v.8) and answered prayer (v.9).
God uses the Sabbath as a way of reminding His people that He will provide for them.
Consider the Israelites as they were wondering in the desert. God provided them food and water every day. On the sixth day, He commanded them to gather enough food for that day and for the seventh day, so that way they could rest. Even in a time when Israel is constantly turning their back on God, God still provides.
In the same way, we need rest. We need that time to sit and remind ourselves of the great God that we serve who daily provides for us. We need that time to rejuvenate, so that way we can work to the best of our abilities and glorify Christ in our work. May we remember what the author of Matthew says in 11:28-30 when he says,
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Let us today find our rest in Christ and depend on Him each and every day. I pray that we take God’s command of the Sabbath and rest seriously. I pray that we see the beauty of rest and that God set it apart for a purpose.
Soli Deo Gloria
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