The Lord’s Rest

Ben Van Arragon

Read: Exodus 20:8-11

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. (v. 11)

I spent many childhood Sundays playing with a friend. He had a spacious yard, perfect for games and sports. As we played, the boy and girl next door stood at their window, watching. They were not allowed to play outside, or do much inside for that matter. Their parents were strict observers of the Sabbath, keeping the day of rest holy . . . by not doing anything.

God commanded Israel to set aside a weekly day for “rest.” Ever since, God’s people have struggled to understand what “rest” is. For generations it was considered doing as little as possible. For generations, covenant children found “rest” nearly as distasteful as work. Does God intend for Sabbath rest to be mere inactivity?

Consider what rest was meant to be. God intended for all of life to be Sabbath. Work became necessary and painful labor only after the fall into sin. But the things we love most are activities: exercising our unique abilities; appreciating the products of divine and human creativity, playing games, tending to the earth and other living things. The “rest” God initiated at creation was enjoying creation. Sabbath rest is not inactivity, but rather taking a break from the activity you must do to survive. God’s rest is a taste of what life was like in the beginning. And a foretaste of what it will one day be. —Ben Van Arragon

Prayer: Sabbath-giving God, grant me a taste of the rest, and work, for which you created us.