Friday, October 5, 2018
Commanded to Rest
We looked yesterday at how rest is a command in scripture, and how it better ables us to to obey other commands (we specifically focused on joy, but there are so many other areas it touches, as well!). Today, we'll look at that command a little closer.
In one of my favorite passages about the taking of rest, the disciples have just come back from their ministering around the area, "proclaiming that people should repent". They are eager and diligent to give Jesus a full report of all that they have done for Him since they were last with Him. But there are people every where, and Jesus sees that His disciples need a break before they continue to serve. He commands them to rest, and they obey. We aren't sure how long this rest is, or whether they really had much more than a bite to eat and the quiet of being on a boat away from the crowd, able to talk to Jesus, who came with them, without interruption, before they jump back into work, because the crowd follows them. But we do know that Jesus knew that rest was important for them, and that He cared for them, so I am confidant that they were refreshed before Jesus landed, and, having compassion on the people, started serving, and asking His disciples to help, once more (Mark 6: 31-34).
Most of our timelines in life are found in the pattern of the sun and moon; our year, our month, our day, our seasons, the tides. They all depend on these "neighbors" in our home, the Milky Way. But were did the timeline of our week come from? Where did we get a seven day week? That comes directly from scripture, and Genesis 1-2, where God created the universe in six days... and created rest on the seventh.
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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 2:1-3)
He then makes the observing of this day of rest a holy day, and lays down His expectations for this day to the Israelites when He brings them out of Egypt: "Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places." (Leviticus 23:3)
Jesus explains to the Pharisees in Mark 2:27 that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."
And here in these 3 verses we find the balance to this command of rest. The Sabbath was created
to the Lord.
Over and over, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we are given examples of how the Sabbath was "a day of rest for the people", but "a day of worship for the Lord". And the reason for this is simple; when we worship the Lord, we come into a deeper fellowship with Him, and when we are abiding in Him, our hearts find rest; when we are resting in the Lord, we have the strength to serve Him and those around us; and as we work for Him, through Him... we find ourselves ever more grateful for who He is, and ever more desirous to worship Him.
Our week was set up to give us this natural rhythm of savoring Christ and sharing Christ, but it also happens on a smaller (and larger) scale all through out our lives. We give our bodies physical rest every night, but there are times that we take additional rest when sick or suffering from too-short nights too often. The same should be true of our Sabbath rest. We have a time set aside to habitually worship and spiritually rest, but we also must learn to come and sit at His feet when we are "weary with much care". To remind our hearts to be still; to learn of Him; to feast on the truths of the gospel.
There are different ways to do this at different seasons. Bible reading, prayer, hymns, extra scripture study, online sermons, edifying books. It may depend on your resources at hand, the time you can make available, and the level of your need. But He is always there to carry your burdens, to still your spirit, to bring rest to a troubled sea of doubt. And He does this for us - to His glory.
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)