We all know that rest is important, but why is it such a big deal to God? Why does it matter so much to Him that we set apart one day every week to do nothing?
Firstly, as you may have rightly guessed, resting benefits us the most. Like every other Commandment, God instituted this one too for our good. He is the Creator and He knows His creation the best.
If your car manufacturer told you trying to go from zero to 100 miles in 6 seconds is bad for the engine, it would be unwise to not pay attention. Likewise, when God says cool it for a day once every week, He knows what He is talking about.
Yes, life is busy and each year it seems to get busier. Work, family, school, and other commitments just eat the day away. However, rest and relaxation are important. In fact, getting enough rest is imperative to living a healthy lifestyle. When you do not relax, you are putting yourself at risk for illness.
Think about it this way: God is Spirit, right? He never tires or slumbers. And yet even God rested on the Seventh Day. If God Himself felt the need to rest, then who are we to say it is not important. Would you let your children to tire themselves out all day and then stay awake all night? God cares for us just as we care for our children. And He wants what is best for us.
It is so important to God that we rest that He made it the Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8–11)
When you do not get enough rest, you have difficulty concentrating, thinking clearly, and even remembering things. You might not notice this at first or blame it on your busy schedule, but the more sleep and rest you miss out on, the more pronounced these symptoms will become.
Lack of rest and relaxation can also affect your mood. It is a proven fact that when individuals miss out on good nightly rest their personality is affected and they are generally grumpy, less patient, and snap easier. In retrospect, missing out on rest to fit in all those activities is not much fun at all.
Incidentally, the first holy thing in all creation was not a people or a place, but a day. God made everything in creation and called it good, but when God rested on the seventh day, He called it holy.
The best part about obeying God and resting is that He rewards us for being good to ourselves. Look at what He did for Scottish athlete Eric Liddell.
During the summer of 1924, the Olympics were hosted by Paris. Liddell, a committed Christian, refused to run on Sunday (the Christian Sabbath), with the consequence that he was forced to withdraw from the 100 meters race, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games began. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 meters, an event in which he had previously excelled. Even so, his success in the 400m was largely unexpected.
The day of 400 meters race came, and as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper into Liddell’s hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30 – “Those who honor me I will honor.”
Liddell not only won the race, but broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds. His performance in the 400 meters in Paris remained a world record for four years and a European record for 12 years.
So, the next time you think it is a good idea to stay up late to complete a task or hang out with friends, think again.
I conclude with an excerpt from the Book of Isaiah: “If you treat the Sabbath as sacred and do not pursue your own interests on that day; if you value my holy day and honor it by not traveling, working, or talking idly on that day, then you will find the joy that comes from serving me. I will make you honored all over the world, and you will enjoy the land I gave to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13,14)
This passage suggests the Sabbath is a gateway through which we can experience the best that life has to offer.
Want to have it all? No problem. God wants that for us too and much, much more. And the Sabbath rest is God’s answer to making it all happen. It establishes the inalienable human right to rest and prosper. And prosper you certainly will. Just try it!