God wants you to rest

God wants you to rest. Before you keep reading, let that sink in for a minute. Right now you’re probably either in a hurry, or have been in a hurry. But, the one with infinite strength and power wants you to stop and rest.

Starting point

This post isn’t going to argue whether or not God exists. Instead, we’re going to start by assuming He exists and that He has communicated to us in a book called, the Bible.

The first part or ‘book’ of the Bible is called, Genesis. This book tells how everything started. God speaks and things happen. We’re not delving into how it happened, or how long it happened. The first chapter of the Bible says that God spoke and things took shape.

First rest

Chapter two begins by saying that everything was finished. The next verse is interesting: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested …” Genesis 2:2 NKJV

God rested. He created and worked for six days and then took a day off. The Bible didn’t indicate that he was tired. His power has no limits. So, why rest? He rested because He was setting an example for us to follow. Work hard, and then take some time to breathe.

If that was all that the Bible said, that would be enough reason to schedule routine rest into our schedules. But, God gives us a more emphatic message in the second book of the Bible.

Seriously! Rest!!

The second book of the Bible is called, Exodus. In this book, God gives the infamous Ten Commandments.

Charlton Heston from the movie, The Ten Commandments.

These commandments are filled with straightforward and simply stated directives. Don’t murder or steal, or cheat on your spouse. Don’t make up false stories about other people in order to get them in trouble. And don’t be wanting what other people have. But, in the middle of the commandments is a pretty long statement about rest.

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 20:9-11

God has set aside a day for us to rest. He’s serious about it. Not only are we not to work, but we’re not supposed to make other people work. And, he lists this command before He tells us not to murder!!

Guilt and Jesus

Ok, at this point we need to pause because I’m feeling guilty. You might feel the same way. You feel pressure to rest and don’t know how to fit it into your hectic schedule. I’m right there with you.

Let’s jump forward in the Bible. Jesus is walking around on the sabbath day (day of rest) with his close friends that are referred to as “apostles”. They’re supposed to be resting, but the apostles are picking heads of grain and eating them. And, Jesus is healing people.

So, the top religious people of the day aren’t happy with him. The tell him that he and his apostles are breaking one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus responds with; “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” You can read the whole story in Mark 2.

The Sabbath (rest day) was designed to help us and not hurt us. We’re not supposed to stress out about resting. If we can’t rest this week, that’s ok. But, we’d be better off if we could find some rest.

So, we should rest once every week. That is important, but God also knows that sometimes we are in a situation where we have to keep working.

Again, that is enough to say that God wants us to rest. But, there is more. He also told His people to take a year off every seven years!

Take a year off

Take a year off every seven years. What? That’s crazy! Well, here’s what God says.

25 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.

Leviticus 25

Can you imagine this? Work for six years and then take a whole year off. And, God gives you enough to get you through. You don’t starve to death! If you have read this far you are probably having the same thoughts that I’ve had.

“Well that was an agrarian society, so maybe that would work for them.” Or, “That is Old Testament Bible stuff and doesn’t apply to us.”

But, are we sure we can’t do this? I wouldn’t know. I’ve never tried. The thought of it terrifies me. Has anyone tried it? One thing is sure, God is really into rest. But, wait there’s more!

More rest

God also gave various “feast” days that were to be celebrated each year. On these occasions you were to stop working. These were times of reflection on the goodness of God and celebration for what He has provided. You can read about the various feast days here.

God implores us to rest!

Jesus sums rest up in this statement:

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV

Jesus tells us that if you follow God’s prescribed way of living you will experience rest. And, that rest will not just be physical, it will be experienced at soul level.

Ways to begin resting

How do we move forward from here. We know God wants us to rest, but how do we do it? I suggest that you brainstorm some ideas that will fit into your life and make sense to you.

Maybe you could start by resting for a few minutes. Or, maybe a part of a day could become your weekly rest time. Don’t quit your job and take a year off. (Unless you feel directed through prayer!) Rest can become a habit. And, every habit needs a starting point. Give it some thought, but remember:

God wants you to rest.

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