Practice: Rest

NOTE: This important message from Edna Lee wraps up our series on Praise and Practice. Next week we will launch our summer study on the book of Philippians. Grab gal pals and join in studying this powerful and moving letter written by the apostle Paul.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:17

Have you ever wondered why keeping the Sabbath, resting from work, is in the Ten Commandments?  Why didn’t God ask us to work diligently?  The Ten Commandments were created to instruct the Israelites on how to relate to God in a way that would make them set apart from the world, holy.  God wanted people to see the way the Israelites lived and want to know their God.

In order for us to understand God’s heart, it’s important to understand the Biblical concept of rest.  The first theological concept of rest is introduced when God created the world.  In Genesis 2:2-3, it says God created the world in six days and on the seventh day, He rested from all the work He had done.  He blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created.

Again, it’s interesting God would specifically mention He rested and He set apart His day of rest.  In Psalm 121:4, God does not sleep nor slumber.  He does not need physical rest the way we do because He is perfect.  When God rested, He enjoyed all that He created.  He delighted in His handiwork.

Another example of Sabbath rest is when the Israelites were walking through the wilderness.  God provided food for them each day called manna.  He instructed them to only pick up food for each day and not to gather food for the next day.  He also instructed them to gather double the amount of food on the sixth day because on the seventh day, He wanted them to rest from work.

Some Israelites did not obey His command nor trust God’s provision.  Instead, they stored up more manna than they needed.  As a result, their manna rotted.  Their physical, emotional and mental efforts were futile.  They controlled their anxieties by overworking rather than trusting God’s provision.

As a result of the Israelites not observing the Sabbath, the children of Israel were taken into captivity to Babylon for 70 years.   Jerusalem was burned and many people were killed.  Then the land was allowed to lay desolate for 70 years to enjoy her Sabbath rest.

God loves us and He wants us to rest in Him.  He wants us to have a sabbath attitude than can rest in Him and trust Him in all circumstances.  He also desires us to set aside time to rest from our work and delight and enjoy His handiwork in our lives.  God wants us to enjoy Him.  If we do not physically and spiritually rest in Him, we enter into a different kind of captivity – anxiety, depression, burnout and lack of joy.  Today, a person at peace is indeed set apart from our stressed and anxious world.

I identify closely with the Israelites who overworked themselves because they could not trust the Lord’s provision.  I desire to be one of the Israelites who trusted God’s provision and so entered into His rest.  Which Israelite are you and will you receive God’s invitation to rest?

~Edna Lee

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