Genesis 2:2 says, “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.”
Think about it for a second. God rested. The Hebrew word is shabath, where we get the word Sabbath.
We learn two things in Genesis 2:3 about the Sabbath. First, it is blessed. In the creation narrative God blesses three things: animals, humans and the Sabbath. In this story God blesses animals and humans with the life-giving power to pro create, which means there is something special about this day of rest. There is life-giving power in the Sabbath.
Second, the Sabbath is holy. Rabbis often talk about something called The Law of First Mention. Basically any time something is mentioned for the first time in the bible we are take special note of the word or idea. This is the first time we read the word holy in the scriptures. Think about it for a second. What does God make holy? God makes time holy.
Exodus 16 shows us that not only did God rest but also that this day of rest was to be something in the rhythm of Israel’s story. We see that God provides for Israel’s needs by giving them food from heaven every day. Each day they are to collect enough for that day. Yet, on the sixth day they are instructed to gather enough for two days so that they rest on the seventh. God says to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning’” (Ex 16:23).
The Sabbath is not simply a day off. It is a day of rest and worship. As much as we have said throughout this series that what we do is deeply connected to who we are, the Sabbath is a time to be and not to do.
And think about it. For Israel, what was the place of endless, around the clock work with no rest? You guessed it. When they were slaves in Egypt. The Sabbath is a reminder that as God’s people we are no longer slaves. For us the Sabbath is a reminder that we are no longer slaves to consumerism, the almighty dollar and being workaholics. For Israel there is a new order given and it is the exact opposite of Egypt. This new rhythm is to work hard and take a weekly Sabbath.
How important is this? Jesus himself says, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). It is not a legalistic thing. The Sabbath was made for us. It reminds us that we are not machines. It reminds us that we do not sustain the world. The Sabbath reminds us what it means to be human.
At the turn of the century many researchers thought we would work a lot less in North America because of technology like e-mail and messaging. A recent study showed that we actually work 47% more than we did a decade and a half ago. The question has to be asked: Are we slaves to our work?
Our prayer is that we would be the hardest working people on the planet, but that we would also incorporate a weekly rhythm of Sabbath. So lets work together as a community towards being the most rested, life-giving on the planet as we reflect God to the world.