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Friday, December 07, 2012

Genesis Principles - Rest

Continuing on the principles derived from Genesis that remain today, I'm going to examine the biblical concept of rest.

Yesterday we examined the concept of work. It is God-given. It is part of God's design. He gave Adam work right from the beginning and assigned him tasks that continue to this day. In contrast to -- or, perhaps, included in -- that concept would be the biblical concept of "rest".

We first see this concept introduced by God.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all His work that He had done in creation (Gen 2:1-3).
It's interesting first because clearly an Omnipotent Being has no need for rest. God didn't rest because He was tired. He didn't need to restore His energy, recharge His batteries, any such thing. But the concept of rest in Scripture is first applied to God.

This concept is carried further explained in Exodus.
"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 (Exo 20:8-11).
"Oh, now, hold on, Stan. Are you saying that the Sabbath is a universal principle that is still in effect today?" Hold on. Let's not get ahead of me here. Follow along. Remember, the concept is "rest". The original concept was practiced by God. It involved the concept of not doing work ... for a limited time. How much time? In the biblical example it was one day out of seven.

In Exodus 20, the Sabbath was codified -- made into law. In Hebrew, the word means "intermission". "What? I thought it was 'Saturday'." No, not Saturday. Not "seventh day". Sabbath, then, is a day of rest, an intermission for daily living. The original principle set down by God was "one of seven". Further, when Jesus was asked about it He told the Pharisees, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). Again, the principle of rest.

I'm not going to define the Sabbath day for you. For some it's definitely Saturday. For others it is now Sunday. For others it is any day at all. Paul wrote "Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath" (Col 2:16). Which is yours? Not my problem.

What I will point to, however, is the Genesis Principle of rest. God ordained by example the idea of rest one day out of seven. Further, He blessed that day of rest and "made it holy." As such, the ongoing, Genesis Principle of "Sabbath" -- "intermission" -- may no longer be the Exodus concept of "the seventh day", but it is certainly still a day set aside for rest and worship. It isn't even for God's sake. The Sabbath was made for Man.

One more important consideration. The author of Hebrews said, "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (Heb 4:9). This rest is illustrated by God's rest on the seventh day of creation (Heb 4:4) and fulfilled in our resting in faith in the finished work of Christ (Heb 4:9-10). Thus, the ultimate concept started by God as "rest" is found in resting by faith from our work of salvation in the promise of God's Son to save us.

Rest is not an optional idea. Man needs it. God designed it. God performed it when He didn't need to in order to demonstrate it to us. It illustrated our need for genuine, physical rest, our need for weekly time with God in worship and rest, and our ultimate and final rest in the finished work of Christ. None of that is optional. None of it is outdated, outmoded, passed into a former time. We need it all. Rest is God's idea. It's a good one.

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