Article by Pastor Mark Harrod - July 2022
Humanity shares many common needs, among them is the need for rest. If nothing else, we need rest from the burdens that we carry daily. That is the lure of the beach: we can step out of our dress shoes, put on flip-flops and, if only for a week, leave behind the cares of the world. Rest and relaxation beckon us. Yet, there is often a feeling of guilt that sneaks into our moments of respite. We hear a little voice in our head saying, “You should be doing something instead of resting because there is so much to do. You are being lazy.” Please do not listen to that voice because God calls us to regular times of rest and renewal.
The Sabbath was given to the people of God in the Old Testament to be a day of rest and renewal; a day to catch your breath after a busy week. God modeled this in Genesis during the days of creation. He created over the span of six days then He rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3). God did not rest because He was tired. After all, how could the omnipotent God become tired? He rested as a model for His people to follow. Also, keep in mind that Genesis was written by Moses while the people were in the wilderness following the exodus. When the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt their value was found in making bricks. The more bricks they made, the more valuable they were. If they couldn’t make bricks, then they were considered useless. This had been the cultural environment Israel existed in for 400 years: your value is found in what you produce. The words of Genesis 1 and 2 would have been a wake-up call for Israel. The message of those two chapters would have been the voice of freedom: you are made in the image of God. Your value is not found in what you do. Your worth is found in the facts that you are created and loved by God. Then God went another step to help us to remember this. He gave his people the Sabbath, a day of rest to remember that God is the creator and provider. The Sabbath was a gift from God to remind us that our value is found in him and not what we make or do and that we need rest.
The Sabbath day of the Old Testament is fulfilled in Jesus. According to Mark 2:25-27, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and frees us from being slavishly attached to a particular day of rest or worship. (We now worship on Sunday, the first day of the week to celebrate and remember the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and that the New Creation began with the resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, we mark time from the day he arose, the first day of the week. There is still freedom, however, if schedules dictate that one must worship on a day other than Sunday. Paul addresses this in Romans 14:5-9.) The principle of the Sabbath is still applicable. We need to take time to rest and renew and we need to do this regularly. Worshipping on the day of rest teaches us that God will provide what we need and that our lives center on Him.
He brings renewal to our spirits; yet we must still take time to rest our bodies. Do you have regular times of rest? If God set the model for resting, we would be foolish to downplay the importance of rest. Are there activities that renew you spiritually and emotionally? Recreation means re-creation. We must make the time to do things that bring renewal to us spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. The world will keep spinning if you take some time to rest and even grab a nap. I hope that you will make time for rest and renewal. There is an epidemic of tiredness. We are a weary people both mentally and physically. The cure for this epidemic is to return to the model that God has given us: regular rest and renewal.
Pastor Mark Harrod