Six days of work. Six days used well in creating beauty and order and establishing life and making all things good. Six days and the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And by the seventh day? With all that he had been doing now finished God rests.
I wonder what rest looks like for God. It couldn’t be slumber, for God never sleeps. It isn’t out of exertion for an all powerful God is not worn out by work. It isn’t out of boredom or a need for a break from his work, for He found all His work good. So why does this mighty God set aside a full day of rest for Himself?
Genesis doesn’t give the answer to us but I can’t help but wonder if the Almighty God took a day of rest to simply enjoy the work of His hands. To smell the fresh aroma of flowers and grass, play with the animals, and marvel at the great oceans. Maybe, as His day of rest was ending He walked along in the cool of the evening, conversing with the man that He made. And as the day came to a close and the light faded perhaps He looked up at the blue-black sky with pinpricks of light beginning to flicker as the stars came out. It just might be that God used His day off to delight in His creation.
However He used the day of rest, it is clear that God found it important that we follow His pattern as He blessed it and made it holy, then commanding us to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy ourselves.
As my husband and I have sorted through the implications of this blessing, consecration, and commandment we have come across many interpretations of sabbath and how we are to observe it. Many people disregard it entirely, while others observe it in part by going to church but then using the rest of their sabbath to get caught up on work before a new week begins. Others take the day off, some using their free time to watch football or go hiking – others spending the entire day at church or quietly at home in the Word and in prayer.
Like many of the commandments the application of this is not laid out clearly for us in scripture. Christ Himself broke some of the traditional applications and went against what the Pharisees thought it meant to honor sabbath and keep it holy. So how do we know?
I don’t have an answer. But perhaps in looking to God’s example of rest we might better understand how we should rest.
Perhaps our call for rest is to enjoy God. The maker used His day of rest to enjoy His creation. Now let the creation use its day of rest to enjoy the creator. After the six days of real work – and let us understand clearly that God rested after six days of work; we should not expect six days of idleness to end in another day of rest – could we set the tasks down for a day and spend undivided time enjoying God?
Enjoy God by worshipping Him in song and understanding Him through scripture and respond to Him by prayer.
Enjoy God by spending unhurried hours in His creation, marveling at the work of His hands.
Enjoy God by fellowshipping with His people, especially those He has placed intimately in your life as a spouse, a sibling, a child.
Enjoy God by enjoying the gifts He has given you.
Enjoy God by rejoicing in the work that He enabled you to do in the six days before.
We are finite. We need rest to recharge ourselves that we might continue to work. We need rest to get a break from the draining work we encounter during the week. We need sleep to strengthen our bodies to face another Monday morning. But we are also God’s children. And when we let our walk emulate His we will find ourselves whole people of deep, unwavering peace.