We made it, everyone, or almost. The first semester of school is ending, and our long-anticipated break is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to Christmas, and seeing close friends. What about you? Oh, and don’t forget resting. Rest is the central idea in break, after all. But what do we rest from?
Every day, each of us rests in one way or another. After exercising, we rest physically to recharge our bodies so we can exercise again the next day. We take mental breaks after working on hours of homework, enabling us to take a science test later that day. Sometimes, especially us introverts, take emotional breaks to have energy to socialize again. And we don’t do this because we have to, but because we want to rest. Resting, whether physical, mental, or emotional, feels great. It’s a necessary part of life, and God created us to enjoy rest. From the very beginning of the world he set apart a time to rest, the Sabbath. But if the Sabbath is for resting, why does it often feel like a chore?
Let’s take a look at the purpose of the Sabbath. God gives two reasons to observe the Sabbath, one in Exodus and one in Deuteronomy. In Exodus 20:10-11, God points to when he created the world, declaring that he “blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (ESV). But in Deuteronomy 5:15 God tells the Israelites to remember their captivity in Egypt. Both of these reasons share a common thread: each one focuses on God. While the Sabbath is a time for physical, mental, and emotional rest, it is primarily a time for spiritual rest.
Although God makes it clear that we should rest physically on the Sabbath, when the Jewish religious leaders take that idea to an extreme, Jesus clarifies the purpose of the Sabbath, and that sometimes certain work is necessary and good, like healing (Matt. 12:9-12). Plus, I don’t think God intended people to use the Sabbath day to binge-watch Netflix, or as an excuse to be lazy. No, instead Jesus says, “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 ESV). We find our spiritual rest in Jesus, by going close to him. And of course, we’re all familiar with this passage in Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (v. 1-3).
Or this passage in Isaiah 55:
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David” (v. 1-3).
So, the purpose of the Sabbath is spiritual rest, which we find in Jesus Christ by drawing close to him. For me, I feel closest to God when I am alone and praying or reading my Bible, especially out in nature. Others might feel closest to Him through singing hymns, or worshiping together, or serving others, and maybe in other ways too. How do you draw close to God? I encourage you to take some time to rest spiritually, with Christ, over break. Make it a habit too, if you haven’t already. Let’s push through these last few days of school though, we’re almost there! Merry Christmas everyone, have a great break!