So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.-Hebrews 4:9-10
Have you ever been burned out? Just over done from the grilling flames of the day-to-day grind we all endure? The natural remedy, we think, to being overworked is to get time away from work. Isn’t this one of the main reasons we look forward to the holiday seasons so much?
True rest is not the absence of responsibility; real rest is being in the intimate presence of the Lord. Therefore, if we seek to rejuvenate ourselves simply through the absence of responsibility, this is a quick fix that will not last because it is based in a works theology. We think we can gain our own rest through our actions, or in this case, our lack of actions.
The Sabbath is a big theme throughout the Bible. God rested from his work on the seventh day, the fourth commandment is to keep the Sabbath, Jesus and the Pharisees came to blows over the Sabbath on many occasions as Jesus seemed to intentionally heal people on this day, and to top it all off Jesus said he is actually Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). Clearly the Sabbath is a big deal to God. But why?
The Sabbath is such a big deal because it, like all of Scripture, points to Jesus and our need of him (John 5:39). The Hebrews word for Sabbath rest is sabat, which means “to rest or stop or cease from work.” The Sabbath was an Old Testament symbol for the work and person of Jesus. Because of Jesus, we are to rest and stop our efforts to make ourselves right with God (Ephesians 2:8-9).
God rested on the Sabbath day because his work was done. Seven in the Bible is the number for completion. Likewise Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father after he provided purification for sins not because he was tired, but because his redemption for humanity was completed at the cross and resurrections (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus intentionally healed the sick on the Sabbath to show everyone that people will not get well through resting from their work. They will get well when they come into relationship with him, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus is our rest, our Sabbath, our Seventh Day, the One who heals and restores, the only one who has the right to claim our worship not for just one day but for every day. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Finding our rest in God is for his glory and our good. When God is shown to be the great restorer of souls, he is seen as beautiful. When he restores our souls, we are truly benefited.
So let us seek rest regularly as God intended. But let us not totally contradict the true intention of the biblical Sabbath. Of course clearing our schedules and taking a break from work is not wrong. This is good. But this type of rest will never compare to being healed and filled up by personal intimacy with Jesus. To relieve yourself of responsibility will only result in true rest if you use that time away to be rejuvenated in Christ. Hobbies are not wrong, but they can be if they take Jesus’ place rather than create time to be with him.
Let us seek to clear our schedules and do relaxing things not as a way to gain our own rest, but so our minds can breathe to then be better equipped to hear the voice of God who freely gives us rest through our relationship with him.