In today’s busy working culture, not enough emphasis is given on the importance of rest. I think most people don’t even have an accurate understanding of the nature of rest, and why it’s important. This post is an exploration of the benefits and usefulness of rest.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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. 11 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.
This is the fourth of the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Ten commandments are a very important part of our spiritual awareness and growth, as they are intended to reveal to us our own incapacities and train us in trusting God. But this commandment seems to have special significance, because it is repeated many times throughout scripture. One such passage carries some important implications to be considered.
12 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13 “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. 16 Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’”
Concerning the text in red, when it says that those who violate the Sabbath shall “surely be put to death”, we should not imagine that a mob of Old Testament Jews will come and stone the offender of the Law.
This means that you’ll lose touch with the Kingdom Life of God within your heart. When we think of those who are “put to death”, we should imagine bitter, depressed, sniping, overworked, stressed-out people, who are under tremendous pressure, and spend all their time and efforts on an endeavor that never really comes out right. Additionally, their relationships with family and friends suffer, because they spend all their time working. That is what it means to be “cut off”, and in totality, it’s a spiritual death!
Concerning the text in blue, it is evident that the Sabbath REST is how our covenant with God is serviced and renewed.
The Ten Commandments are recounted again in Deuteronomy, and are embellished with a more complete description that EVERYBODY needs rest, and that even includes animals!
12 ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
The last verse here (in blue) emphasizes that since God has rescued us from a futile existence, WE ARE NO LONGER SLAVES, so… WE SHOULD NOT ACT LIKE SLAVES in our work.
In other words, WHO WE ARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT WE DO!
These Commandments are followed with a promise, and as usual with God’s promises, it mainly pertains to the enhancement of the quality of our Life and also the fruits or our labors (highlighted in red text here).
1 “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which the LORD your God has commanded to teach you, that you may observe them in the land which you are crossing over to possess, 2 that you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. 3 Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’
But you might ask, what is a “Sabbath”, and what does it mean to “keep the Sabbath holy”?
Throughout Scriptures, the word “Sabbath” is habitually used in association with the word “REST”. The word “holy” is an adjective that means something is special, and SET APART from the normal, day-to-day occurrences and uses.
“Rest” means different things to different people, so we need greater clarification here. Some people think resting means sleeping, or simply not doing anything. But I believe the intended meaning of a “Sabbath REST” is not slumber or idleness, nor even strictly confined to church attendance, but it is any activity that is out of your ordinary routine, which can free your mind and heart from the burdens and anxieties of your life.
It’s not hard, at this point, to identify the concept of REST as a variation of WORSHIP, which is why a lot of people hold the idea that going to church is how we keep the Sabbath holy.
But the church is not the only place we can worship. We should learn to worship God in all facets of our life. Your career, your family, and all your relationships should be offered to God as forms of worship.
Also, you don’t need to go on a long vacation, or spend a lot of money to get REST. Rest can come in very simple easy ways.
For example, on nice days, I like to take a ride on my motorcycle through the countryside. The fresh air, sights and smells always give me a renewed perspective on life.
On nasty days, it’s better to curl up in a comfortable chair with a good book and a hot drink.
The popular notion is to dismiss such activities as idleness. We may not think of this as REST, but it is!
Sometimes, I’ll take a walk up the small mountain behind the University, to get a sense of refreshment during the day. It only takes half an hour, and a little bit of exercise, but I come back feeling like a new man with a fresh wind.
In fact, sometimes, a good rest could be a real physical workout, such as playing sports, or working on a hobby. Most hobbies qualify as avenues of restful diversion.
For example, my friends’ testimony conveys a very good description of how he finds rest through hunting (and snowboarding)…
“Let the 2009/2010 Deer (less) Season stand as testament to all of you who ever doubted my motivations for hunting, that it has absolutely nothing to do with killing deer, but is much more about watching the world come to life each morning, talking to God with no distractions, and spending time with my friends and family. Now on to snowboarding!”
Another way to find rest through worship is in being true to your nature. Posture positioning and “wearing face” always requires a lot of work. I think this is why the Bible says that the wicked have no peace (or rest), in Isaiah 57.
20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt. 21 “There is no peace,” Says my God, “for the wicked.”
Even while working or studying, short periods of rest are necessary to renew ones’ strength throughout the day, because studies have shown that the average persons’ attention span only lasts 20-40 minutes.
In America, those coworkers who take the time to make coffee, or bring in doughnuts or cake for everyone, are encouraging people to rest.
In Asia, people have a habit of drinking tea and eating fruit together as a form of rest, which is usually done in the afternoon.
Think of those people who go outside to have a chat and a smoke during their breaks. All these habits are very quick, powerful forms of RENEWAL for them, and in most cases, they have never even left the workplace!
In fact, some laws regulate how long hourly-wage employees can be required to work without a break, and in most countries, it is about 2 to 3 hours. These laws are modern expressions of the Mosaic Law.
The important point to remember here is that DAILY and WEEKLY REST and relaxation are very important to all aspects of our health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and mental. So please ensure adequate periods of REST to your body, mind and soul, while still keeping a disciplined and timely schedule. It is no small task to find creative and effective ways to REST each day and each week.
By the way, although watching TV can be a very restful form of entertainment, be careful that you do not let yourself depend on TV too much. It is better to spend your time with a friend, or alone in peaceful tranquility. In fact, I tell my students that anyone who spends more than two hours a day watching TV is detrimentally dependent on TV as a form of REST. (Anyone who spends more than 6 hours a day watching TV, has a TV addiction!) I urge such a person to develop other activities that will provide more real-life benefits and not waste so much of their time.
Now, I think I’ve written enough for today. I’m going to quit and take a rest.
- Christianity and Masculinity: Honor the Sabbath (November 3, 2018)