Thanking God for Rest
Bible Studies for Life
To be thoroughly biblical, any discussion on work needs to include the concept of rest.
The United States is a work-intensive culture. On average, Americans in the workforce work 11 hours more per week than in the 1970s.1 A June, 2013 CBS News report found most American workers are unhappy at work.2 I wonder if the extra work and unhappiness at work are related. Followers of Christ recognize the value of work, but we should also recognize the value of rest.
Rest is God’s Idea
God instituted a Sabbath day for the children of Israel patterned after His own activity. After the six days of creation, the Bible records that God rested: “By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation.”3 This pattern of rest was instituted by God for the people, animals, and land.
Because we live in a society not given to biblical thought, not only is the idea of a Sabbath foreign, often the idea of rest is, too. Christ’s followers are forced into a mold of economic productivity driven by greed; which can make us feel like we are merely cogs in someone else’s wheel. We feel it in our relationships, our spiritual life, and our bodies. Weekends become recovery times rather than rest and recreation times. That is, for those who get a weekend.
God is Serious about Rest
So serious was the idea of a Sabbath rest for God, that He commanded Sabbath violators be put to death.4 As Nick and I noted in this unit, “Observing a weekly day of rest and worship is a gift from the Lord as well as a holy obligation. Throughout Christian history, most believers have applied the principle of setting aside a day of rest and worship to the first day of the week as ‘the Lord’s day’ (Rev. 1:10)”5
Because of the pressures around the workweek – and often the requirement of Saturday work – some Christ followers turn the Lord’s day into a day of physical entertainment. Our temptation to neglect worship in favor of football, fishing, or shopping is to our detriment. Gathering with other believers for corporate worship to the Father, Son, and Spirit is a significant part of our rest. We need to rest from work and rest in the Lord.
God has already done Salvation’s Work
The writer of Hebrews built on this concept of rest while reminding his readers we do not work for salvation. “The person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.” To say it another way, we receive salvation when we rest in God’s rest, not when we work to earn it.
We should be thankful for rest; both spiritual rest and the physical rest it encourages. We need not work ourselves to death for material possessions, as we have all we need in Christ. And, we need not work ourselves to death for salvation, as Christ has done all that needs to be done to secure it. Therefore, let us rest as God has and experience that bit of heaven here on earth.
3-Genesis 2:2, 3 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
5–Bible Studies for Life, Productive, by Ronnie and Nick Floyd