Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1, NIV
After a busy holiday season, rest sounds good. My daughter recently commented having kids of your own definitely makes you appreciate all the work your parents put into making Christmas special. Shopping, baking, cleaning, decorating, assembling, addressing, and wrapping. Not to mention Christmas programs at church and at school and a plethora of Christmas parties. Maybe throw in some packing and traveling, if relatives don’t live close by or if you’ve planned that awesome Christmas vacation. Then, after it’s all over, everything has to be cleaned up, packed up, and stored away until next year.
No wonder we’re tired.
Isn’t it a joy to know our Heavenly Father calls us to rest.
The Lord established the precedent right from the start.
“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.”
When the Lord established his people, he incorporated a rhythm of rest into their lives. The Sabbath was addressed sixteen times in Exodus.
“For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord.”
I once heard a speaker comment on how good our God is to tell us to take naps, referring to the Sabbath as a day to rest and recharge. I love that. Naps suddenly become holy. Spiritual. Blessed.
And don’t we feel blessed after we wake up? Recharged. Rejuvinated. Refreshed.
Whatever day we choose, for whatever reason we choose it, we need a day each week to slow down, pause, and relax.
For Christians and Jews, its a command, one of the Ten Commandments. For everyone, it is not only important, it can be paramount to our overall spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health.
The second part of Exodus 35:2 says “Whoever does any work on it (the sabbath) is to be put to death.”
And Exodus 31:14 says “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people.”
Thankfully, we no longer live under the law. The whole death thing seems kind of harsh. It makes me appreciate living under grace all the more. But, I think there are some spiritual truths to be considered in these passages.
According to WebMD, lack of proper rest can lead to increased stress levels, decreased mental capacity (including slowed reaction times and impaired judgment), depression, illness and chronic pain, to name a few. It can put us at risk for heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, high blood pressure, strokes, and diabetes. I would also surmise that all work and no rest impedes and interferes with maintaining healthy relationships. Sounds a lot like a recipe for death and being cutoff from our friends and family.
Maybe God knew a little something about the people he created. Maybe, just maybe, he knew what we needed in order to thrive.
Jesus knew the importance of the Sabbath. He was always quick to distinguish between legalism and the heart of the law.
“Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
And he recognized the need to rest for himself and his disciples.
“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
And one day, we will enter the ultimate rest.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.”
I encourage you to make one more New Year’s resolution. Resolve to observe the Sabbath, to take a day of rest, to take a break from the rat race, to build in some downtime into your busy schedule.
Go ahead, take that nap. It does a body good.
Heavenly Father, Thank you that you are the Lord of the Sabbath. What joy to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, to rest in the shadow of the Almighty. In your tender mercy, Good Shepherd, you have us lie down in green pastures, you lead us beside quiet waters, and you restore our souls.