What is Rest, and Why Should We be Thankful for It?
Rest. That thing we all long for — and never accept.
We say we’re tired and need a vacation. Then we go on elaborate (and expensive) trips, and find ourselves exhausted upon returning home. We exclaim our need for a holiday, then reenact the latest episode of Cutthroat Kitchen as we prepare our Thanksgiving meals.
There has to be a better way than this. Thankfully, Scripture outlines God’s plan to refresh us. He gave us the Sabbath.
Created for Relationship
Earlier this year, my pastor did a series on the Ten Commandments. The Commandments aren’t harsh rules meant to pin us down and discourage us, he said. They’re the loving instruction of a Father who desires to be in relationship with us.
Think of a dad who tells his kid not to play in the street. His intent isn’t to rain on his child’s parade, but to keep his child safe.
My pastor brought to my attention something I’d never thought of before. And he changed my mind.
When you list off the Ten Commandments to a church crowd, they agree that all of them are good. No other gods? Got it. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain? Can do. Honor my parents? Don’t murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet? All good rules.
But there’s one of which we say, “That’s not for today.” Which one is that? “Remember my Sabbath, to keep it holy.”
Keeping the Sabbath
Isn’t it strange that we rebel against the thing we so often claim to want? Perhaps we think a day of doing nothing will keep us from doing what we want. Maybe we think it’ll just be really boring. Maybe we think of it as another “Thou shalt not.” Who needs that?
What we need to see is that the Sabbath is a gift to His children. What does it mean to “keep” the Sabbath? Interestingly, it’s the same word used in Genesis 2:3, when God rested on the seventh day and “made it holy”:
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. (ESV)
To keep the Sabbath means to consecrate the day or set it apart — to make it holy. But what does that look like? We know that on the seventh day, “you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:10). We can also get some clues from Isaiah 58:13:
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.
The point of the Sabbath is to do the Lord’s pleasure (or business, as the footnote tells us) with intentionality and delight. This, the Lord says through his prophet Isaiah, comes with a promise:
Then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you 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.
There Remains a Sabbath Rest
The author of Hebrews echoes this when he says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”
There’s something special about resting in the Lord for one day each week, and doing His business instead of your own. Will you join me this Thanksgiving weekend in resting and declaring it a delight? Spend a day in awe of the Lord (that reverential fear of the Lord), and see if it isn’t “healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”