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What is the biblical meaning of rest and what can we learn from it?

Aug 5 2021

1. Genesis 2:2 – “And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested”

Rest is the decision that six days is enough, even for God. He’s not insecure or anxious about His work, scrolling through His emails or checking in at the office to make sure everything’s ok. On the seventh day He creates shalom (peace).

2. Amos 8:5 – “They say, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?”

Rest is the choice to be a human, not a consumer. Economies promise growth and demand labour but on the Sabbath we remember that the economy serves us, not the other way around. When ‘the Lord’s work’ feels like joining a factory rather than a family something has gone wrong.

3. Exodus 16:26 – “Six days you shall gather food; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

Rest is understanding that work does not have to define you. Are there opportunities out there? Definitely. Could you achieve more of them by working harder? Absolutely. But do you have the faith not to?

4. Exodus 20:10 – “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 resident in your towns.”

Rest is a reminder to see human beings and not human resources. Our workplaces classify people by output and undervalues those without executive titles or professional skills. On the Sabbath, everyone’s hourly rate is the same.

5. Psalm 131:2 – “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child with its mother”

Rest is the choice to be a person instead of a brand. On the Sabbath we find the space to listen before speaking, not having a take on the backlash to the backlash to the thing we should be talking about. The world can go on without one more voice for now.

6. Leviticus 25:4 – “In the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.”

Rest is to experience life as a gift, not a resource. In other places land is purchased, developed, stolen, acquired, fought over, conquered and pillaged; in YHWH’s economy land is given a Sabbath. The world we inherit needs to work for the next generation, not used and thrown away.

7. Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God. I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

Rest is a command, not just a good idea. In the Sabbath we hear echoes of creation and the exodus, two events that redefine our relationship with the world and with our work. Rest is about living as though God really is God.