In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This might be the most well known verse in the Bible. But Genesis 1 tells us that God did not speak everything into existence at once. He could have done that. He has infinite power so he can do whatever he desires. But this is not what God chose to do. Rather, he took an entire week to create the universe. Over a period of six days the Lord created everything in the universe and then on the seventh day God did something very interesting. The Bible tells us that, “On the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 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” (Genesis 2:2-3). So as we see the seventh day was a day of rest for God. You might wonder why did God rest if he never gets tired? I once had a professor in seminary explain this well. He said that rest is much more than ceasing from work; it is also enjoying your work. In our case it the satisfaction of the work we have done all week and also enjoying God’s work - his creation.
Now in the Old Testament the Sabbath day was the seventh day of the week – Saturday. But in the church age the best day to take a day of rest is Sunday. This is the day where you cease from your labor and join God’s people in worship. It is also a day where you enjoy God’s gifts: such as family, good food, and the beauty of his creation. Think about how wonderful this is. God gives us a day to rest, worship, and enjoy his gifts. To not do this is to go against his creative design. To not do this is foolish and you will not function as well over the long haul if you don’t. Now I realize that some people occasionally have to work on Sunday’s, and if this is the case then another day should replace Sunday for that week. In the New Testament era we should keep this. It is for our benefit, but in the Old Testament era they had to keep the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10). For an Israelite to not keep the Sabbath would be a grave sin in God’s eyes. The Lord called his people to follow his model in working and those Israelite’s who obeyed experienced the blessing of following the Sabbath.
Now with work there are two errors that people make. On one end, there is laziness. The Bible warns against laziness. Solomon wrote that, “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4). He also wrote that, “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4). Every fall when we see the harvest in fields it is quite a sight to see, but those crops are only there because farmers labored hard to seed the fields several months before. God designed that we would work for our food and our possessions and so work we must do.
However, there is an opposite error and that is overwork. If we are honest laziness is not a problem in our area but overwork is. Now hard work is to be admired but overwork is not. The one that overworks neglects the other important responsibilities that God has given. Two other big priorities besides work are spending time with your family and gathering with your church family. To take a day of rest gives you the opportunity to prioritize these other vital responsibilities. To do this you will be blessed, your family will be blessed, and so will your church family. Many of you are already doing this and you understand the blessing of having your priorities in order. Work is a wonderful gift (Genesis 2:15) but it is a lousy God (Exodus 20:3). What idols do is never satisfy you (Psalm 16:4). Work does bring satisfaction but only as you pursue work within the boundaries that God has given. To overwork is to forfeit the blessing of work. God designed work to be ceased from so that we are able to admire the work that God enabled us to do, to enjoy his gifts (including family), and to take part in the gathering of believers. To have this rhythm is God’s design. The Sabbath reminds us of these priorities. Honestly ask God how you are doing and be sure to put everything in its rightful place. By God’s grace may people look at your life and say with honesty that, “he/she lives for God.”
Grace and Peace,
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