Why The Gift Of Rest?

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  What does this mean?  We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it. – The Third Commandment

We work.  All of us.  Some of us work harder than others, but we all still work.  I can’t say the same thing about employment.  Some of us are not employed.  This does not mean, however, that those who are not employed do not work.  Not all work is, necessarily, employment and not all employment is, necessarily, work.  The bottom-line is that we all work.  That is one of the reasons why God created us.  Think about Adam.  What did God do with Adam?  He put him to work: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).  But before we resign ourselves to a life of drudgery and mind-numbing labor, please realize that God does not expect us to always work.  He expects us to work, but He does not expect us to always work.  That is why He gave us rest.  Contrary to what the devil would like us to believe (why would the devil not want us to rest?  The answer will come to you eventually), a faithful Christian need not always be working.  Why? – because God gave us the gift of rest.  But why did God give it to us?

Think about ‘rest.’  What is it?  The concept of ‘rest’ is much broader than we sometimes realize.  Rest can be mental or spiritual.  It can be the peace and tranquility found in the repose of physical death: “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Soon you will rest with your ancestors’ ” (Deuteronomy 31:16a).  Rest can be the peace of mind found in Jesus, His death on the cross and the resulting forgiveness of our sins: “Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  But, most often, rest is physical.  There is a physical connotation associated with ‘rest.’  And rightly so.

On the physical side, rest is freedom from activity or labor.  This is the entire rationale behind The Third Commandment.  The Children of Israel were laboring as slaves in Egypt.  They received no rest from the Egyptians.  Once they were free, God gave the Children of Israel the gift of rest: “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it” (Exodus 20:8-11).  The Children of Israel, as slaves in Egypt, were always working.  Since they were always working, they had no time to rest.  Since they had no time to rest, they had no time to worship God.  God gave them rest and, with it, a time to worship Him.  Hence the connection between The Third Commandment and the worship of God.

The Third Commandment is just as valid for us as it was for the Children of Israel.  God gives us physical rest.  God gives us freedom from activity or labor so that we have time to worship Him.  That’s the entire point here: rest and worship go hand-in-hand.  Without one there is not the other.  Without worship there is no rest.  And without rest there is no worship.  How can this be, you ask?  Everything comes from God.  We thank Him for His many gifts.  How do we thank Him?  By worshipping Him.  That’s the connection.  That’s the ‘why’ in ‘Why The Gift Of Rest’.  Why did God give us the gift of rest?  So that we will worship Him.