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Can We Rest—and Allow God to Do the Rest?

Posted on August 06, 2018
Can We Rest—and Allow God to Do the Rest?
  • Our 24/7 culture undermines the concept of rest
  • Is our tendency to overwork really a means of "self-escape"?
  • Why is Sabbath rest so important to God, especially in today’s culture?

A recent online article asks, “God rested. Don’t we need the same?”

The article addresses the cultural trend to equate busyness with our self-worth. The writer quotes Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper, who observed, “We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence.” On the other hand, the Bible states that when God created our world, He began each day with the time when most of us rest: “God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).

In fact, the first full day of man’s existence was a complete day of rest (Genesis 2:1–3).

God showed us how to live in harmony with His eternal law when He rested on the seventh day at the end of Creation week. “On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done” (Genesis 2:2). According to both Old and New Testament prophets, God’s holy Sabbath and the rest of His law continue to be the foundation of His government—and will be throughout eternity. “ ‘As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,’ says the LORD, ‘So … shall it come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me’ ” (Isaiah 66:22, 23). (See also Matthew 5:17, 18.)

In the book of Revelation, God’s faithful people are identified as those who keep His commandments. Indeed, there is a special blessing pronounced at the very end of the prophecy: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14). This seems to confirm that the basis of God’s government has and will remain consistent throughout eternity—and His seventh-day Sabbath will always be a sign of His authority.

The idea of holy time dedicated to rest, renewal, and refreshment was introduced to our world at Creation. “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:3). It was reiterated in the Ten Commandments proclaimed on Mount Sinai: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11). Here this sacred time is given to all people—rich, poor, master, slave—and even animals!

For nearly four thousand years, the prophets have pointed God’s people back to His gift of sacred time. But more than just a gift, the Sabbath is a sign of our commitment and loyalty to the King of the universe. “I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (Exodus 20:12).

In the New Testament, Jesus renews the invitation to rest: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Sabbath keeping demonstrates our willingness to trust all our affairs with the all-knowing Creator, who has our best interests in mind. In a world where self-sufficiency and survival of the fittest are maxims, God calls His people to commit their lives to Him and demonstrate their faith by resting in His grace on the Sabbath day.

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the apostle Paul identified the challenge that we face today: “He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘God rested on the seventh day from all His works.’ … There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest” (4:4, 9–11).

Rather than trusting in our works for salvation and for success in life, God’s Word continues to challenge us to be diligent to enter into His rest each day and especially on the seventh-day Sabbath.

Although we are surrounded by a 24/7 culture and unlimited access to the world on the web, let us accept God’s gracious call that is extended to us today—the invitation to trust Him and to show that trust by resting from our work and busyness. He invites us today to make a commitment to put Him first, to allow Him to take responsibility for our salvation and our daily lives as we honor Him, as we enter into His rest and allow Him to do the rest.

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