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In today’s culture, rest is, at best, optional. Busyness is the new social status. Resting makes you lazy or unproductive. The busier you are, the more important you’re perceived to be. The more you have going on, the more impressive your life becomes. The more activities your kids participate in, the greater their chance of becoming successful.

This is the standard.

If we continue on this path, we could become one of the statistics in many studies about overworked people. 

  • Succumbing to a shortened lifespan due to the toll stress took on them during the working years.
  • Refusing to leave or step back from the workforce thanks to the go, go, go mentality.
  • Becoming a victim of anxiety and depression post-retirement.
  • Suffering from accelerated mental degradation and cognitive decline associated with retirement.
  • Diminishing relationships because so little time was invested in them during the working years.

If we aim to work hard, grind it out, and retire early to spend more time with our kids, then we might think twice about that.

Whatever your situation, wherever you fall in the work-life balance spectrum, we all, individually and as a society, do not rest well.    

Genesis 2
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.
3 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.

Whenever you see this kind of repetitive writing, it’s formatted that way to drive home a certain point. Another great example is John 1.

John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was God in the beginning.
3 Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made.

The intent is to draw the reader’s attention to the thing being repeated. It’s important and requires reflection and understanding.

So, God created for 6 days, and then He rested. When we read this at the simplest first glance, we might think, “That’s good. He needed a break.” But that doesn’t fit with the rest of scripture because that would mean God has weakness.

In Psalm 121, God does not slumber or sleep. In Isaiah 40, God has no limits and doesn’t grow tired or weary, meaning He doesn’t need to recharge. He’s incapable of losing His focus, His eyes would never close, He never gets exhausted, He doesn’t get fatigued, nor does He need breaks.

He does not require rest. Yet, He rests on the 7th day. But we can’t look at this in human terms. Resting on the 7th day wasn’t for Him. It was for us, just as all of God’s creation is for us. It’s for our benefit and pleasure and for us to manage and maintain. The 7th day was made unlike any other day because God blessed it and made it holy.

For God to bless something is to give it a place and position of honor and praise. So, God elevated the 7th day to make it sacred. However, this is not the same thing as the Sabbath. What we have in Genesis is something that’s for all people for all time. For the Israelites, it’s a specific day of the week. For the remainder of creation, it’s a day of rest.

What we can conclude from this is that it’s not the day. It’s the concept. Interestingly, nowhere between Genesis 2 with Adam and Exodus 12 with Moses do we see anything else mentioned about a day of rest, about 2,550 years difference.

Some scholars believed this practice stopped after man’s fall to sin. However, the earliest known civilizations observed rest. This could mean that everyone was observing it over the 2,550 years, and it just went without saying.

This day of rest is not something that was ever just for one people or for one time but for all people for all time. And it’s vital.    

We can’t sustain working with no breaks. We have limits. We hit walls. There are ceilings we can’t break through because we were created. And since we are created, we have limitations.

Going too long without rest will actually shorten our lifespans. This is because increased stress levels elevate the heart rate and the adrenaline and cortisol in our bodies, which slows our immune, digestive, and reproductive systems.

While rest is necessary for our overall well-being, it shouldn’t become a legalistic practice. However, we must not miss the spiritual implications of observing a day of rest.

God did set it apart and sanctified it. He made it holy. So, to observe a day of rest is an overt act of worship. It’s honoring the one who set that day apart for us.

God feels more than just ok or angry. We might think that when we’re obedient, He’s ok, and when we aren’t, He’s angry. That’s not the way it works. All our emotions and experiences were given to us by a God who experiences the same things. God enjoys it when we enjoy our day of rest. He looks on us with pleasure. He is pleased with our worship and our slowing down and taking a break.

But we don’t do this well. We don’t put away all the work and anxiety and rest, close to ever. And rest doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. We can do a relaxing activity we enjoy, and that’s rest, but emphasis on relaxing.  

Studies prove that people who routinely do something they enjoy improve their mental health and overall well-being, performing better in every area of their lives.

Genesis 2
3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.

Do you observe a day of rest? Do you rest well? If not, would you start?

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