This week’s topic is that we need rest. We probably already know this is a physical and emotional reality, but it may surprise us to know God rests, and says we need it too. In fact, he commands rest in the first book of the Bible after God created the universe.
And 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 ESV)
A few weeks ago, we saw that God worked, and that we were created to work with him. Now we see God rested. We are also created to rest with him…and share that rest with others.
To help, God gave a rhythm for rest and work. Six days of work, and one day of rest. It’s not equal, as work still outweighs rest. But it’s rhythmic and balances our need for creation and recreation.
God’s rest is the model for our rest. What is God’s rest like?
First, He stops creating. Producing, accumulating, moving, operating.
Clearly his work of sustaining continued – the earth kept spinning and the plants keep growing. But his work of creating takes a pause.
Secondly, he was satisfied with his work. It’s finished. Some things are complete, good, and need to ripen.
We can see these kinds of rest in us today – we need to kick our feet up and stop creating, and we also need to rest by enjoying and appreciating things like nature, art, music and more.
We’ll look in future weeks at how that looks in our context. But we won’t be suggesting this is about a particular day or practice that creates God’s favour and blessing in our lives. It’s about God having created us, knowing what we need, and giving it to us as a gift, if only we’d take it.
Question: What kind of creating do you do? It’s not just artists – people create order, learning, art, ideas, value, research, roads, buildings and more. What do you create?
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Yesterday we explored a story about Jesus and his followers eating grain in the fields on a Saturday, a day of rest, and getting in trouble from the religious authorities. In his response, Jesus referred to one of the great heroes of the Jewish faith, David, who ate holy bread in the temple when he was starving. He mentions the story, and lets the religious authorities do what they do best – argue about God while God is standing right there. He asks them why David got away with eating holy bread, since David was never condemned for eating it.
This story illustrates Jesus’ approach to two kinds of law. There is God’s law given at creation about the Sabbath: rest on the seventh day…period. That stands, and that’s actually what Jesus is about - giving us eternal rest, even today. But there is also the ritual/Sabbath/ceremonial law that is built on top of the basic commandment at creation. Think of it like scaffolding around a structure to help build it – it can be very helpful in following God’s law. But we don’t want to let it obscure God’s original purpose and law. This scaffolding is a reality of our sin or rebellion from God. Our hearts don’t naturally follow God’s law anymore, and so we need these additional structures. But, don’t forget they are provisional…until something comes along and makes them obsolete
Then Jesus comes along and says, “I am Lord of the Sabbath.”
He claims to be God, and gives an invitation to find rest in him, and to stop wrestling with sin and other sinful realities around us, to stop wrestling with ourselves, and just rest in him as he fights those battles.
Claims like this got him in trouble with the Pharisees and Scribes, and eventually their urging that he be killed. But in doing, they made him Lord of the Sabbath…exactly what he’d said.
On the cross, he is restless for us – huge work. He takes on the restlessness of our sin and because of that, we can rest, not on our work overcoming sin and brokenness in our lives, but on his work.
We see him showing that the day of rest, the Sabbath, isn’t the point, just as the temple bread wasn’t the point. God is the point. Resting in God is the point. We’ll see how tomorrow.
Question: Why do you think Jesus’ claims were so offensive to the religious legalists?
Just in time for summer's blend of work and rest, Redeem the Commute is starting a new series of daily challenges to help busy people restore life to the commuting lifestyle. This seven week series will look at the meaning and purpose of work, rest, and ancient practices that have helped followers of Jesus to keep the two in perspective and balance for centuries.