This may be a case of physician heal thyself, but the other night I became really convicted about the importance of having a day of rest. Usually when I think of rest and the Bible, myheart and mind go to Jesus admonition to “come to me you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest…” but this time I didn’t go there.
Instead, my heart was drawn to the Old Testament, to the law and the Ten Commandments. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. That really convicted me. Rest is not just a nice thing we get when we are tired, it’s required for holiness. In Old Testament law, Sabbath breakers were put to death. It’s as if God was saying “rest or I’ll kill you.”
Now you may think it’s a little off to say it that way, and you might be right. You may want to say to me we live under grace and not under the law and that is also correct, but yet I’m left with the question, why was it so important to God that we take a Sabbath of rest? Why such an extreme penalty for breaking this law? I think it comes down to three things. First if God rested after creation, what makes us think we can’t rest? Pride and arrogance? I think maybe, after all if we live like it all depends on us, do we really depend on Him. Secondly, God knows that if we do not take a break, if we spend all of our time pursuing anything (but Him) it will become an idol and push Him out. A Sabbath should give us a day when we can focus on Him and the blessings He has provided, His goodness and mercy. Thirdly, He loves us and He knows what our bodies can handle.
So today take a break, get some rest. Rest in the fact that it doesn’t all depend on you. You won’t be put to death if you don’t take a Sabbath now, we are under a new covenant, but take it from someone who had a heart attack at age forty. If you don’t rest, sooner or later your body will make you rest. As usual, it’s easier (or at least better) to do it God’s way.