Have you ever considered why God rested after creating the world in Genesis 1-2? Did God really need to rest? Had He become tired through His work as we often do? Of course, if we think about it for a moment or two, we would quickly conclude that God is an infinite and all-powerful being. Therefore, He cannot get tired like us. Then why did He rest? The answer seems to be given to us just a few short verses before. At the end of each day of creation, God looks at everything and says it is “good.” But at the end of all the days of creation, notice that He says, “it is very good” (Gen 1:31). What does this phrase mean?
To say that the creation was “very good” was to say that God was utterly satisfied with what He had done. Nothing more could have been added to it to make it better and nothing needed to be taken away from it because it was sub-par. God said He was completely satisfied with what He had made. Only then does He “rest” and gives us the model to follow of “resting” one day in seven.
This helps us to understand that what we need when we take a sabbath rest is complete satisfaction concerning the work that has been done so that we can shut off our brains from our work and receive the true restoration that sabbath rest was always intended to provide.
We are often tempted to think that our problem is the presence of work in this world. This is generally how people view retirement: working a job for a set number of years so that I can save up and get to the ultimate goal: no work. But we quickly realize how flawed this view is when we consider how many find their physical and mental health declining as soon as they retire. It is almost as if the work they were doing was good for them, but now they struggle more. This makes sense when we consider that Adam and Eve were commanded to work before sin came into the world. Apparently, God always intended humanity to work as part and parcel of how He made us to function properly. So the problem then is not the presence of work but the absence of deep rest.
Our difficulty is that we often work to prove something to ourselves and others. We try to find our meaning and ultimate satisfaction in our work and we are rarely if ever satisfied in the short term and we are never satisfied in the long-term. By nature, we are always trying to live up to a standard, whether self-imposed or imposed by others. But that type of work is never finished. We will never be able to say we have completely lived up to the standard and are satisfied. When we act in this dissatisfied manner, we are essentially saying: “Yes, I believe God is Sovereign, but he needs all the help I can give him.” What we do when we should be sleeping or resting shines a spotlight on the idols in our lives.
But Jesus told us very clearly that any who are weary and tired from carrying this heavy burden can come to Him because “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus was claiming that only when we find our identity in Him will we be able to experience that true and deep rest we so need. On our own, we will never be satisfied, but if we trust in Jesus alone, He offers to be our satisfaction in our place. Only when we trust Him can we say, “I am satisfied”, and this satisfaction does not come from us, so it does not require us to keep doing something in order to keep it. Rather, everything has already been done for us by the one who “became sin for us, so that in Him, we might be made the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
And it is only if you receive this deep rest of the soul from Jesus that you can then ask the question “How can I practice this in my life?”. We will consider these practical elements in our next post.
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