Last week I talked about how God created the heavens and the earth, as described in Genesis chapter one. In Genesis chapter two, the Scripture continues: “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3) God worked for six days and rested on the seventh. The interesting thing to me is that the last work He did on the sixth day was create Adam and Eve and put them in the Garden of Eden with instructions to keep it. Then evening fell, and the Sabbath began. So, the first thing Adam and Eve did after they were created was…rest.
But what does the word “rest” mean? How does the Bible describe it? To know that, we have to look at the Hebrew word that is used for “rest” in this passage. The word used in both verse 2 and verse 3 is the verb שבת pronounced shabbat, which is where the English word Sabbath comes from. It means: “to cease, to rest, to desist (from labor).” According to Gesenius’ Lexicon, “the primary idea appears to be that of to sit down, to sit still.” (via Blueletterbible.org)
Because God rested on the seventh day by ceasing from His activity, He commanded us to rest on the seventh day and cease from our activities. So even before Adam began his caretaking of the Garden, he rested with God. Not only is this Sabbath rest a time of communing with our Creator, it is also a necessity for our physical well-being. Our bodies were created around a seven-day cycle, and we are healthier when we take one day off in seven, rather than one day off every ten days or every two weeks, or not at all. (For an interesting read, check out this article on Rest.)
Unfortunately, I haven’t been taking God’s advice lately. Since the spring planting, my after-work hours have been full of gardening, writing, entertaining family, a high school graduation, a birthday celebration, house cleaning, cooking, putting up harvests. Whew! Eighteen hour days on four or five hours of sleep a night with busy weekends catching up on all that couldn’t be done during the week makes for a very tired lady! And my body, mind, and spirit are showing the effects.
So today, I decided I was going to truly rest – and be sure I rest every Sabbath from now on. The laundry and the gardening chores can wait until the morning. The dishwasher can clean the dishes. The emails in my inbox won’t disappear if I don’t read them right away. Yes, today, I have spent most of my time actually enjoying my back yard instead of working in it, coming inside just to write this article – because it couldn’t write itself. 🙂
But now that I’ve posted, I’m going back outside to enjoy my day of rest.
Shabbat shalom, everyone!
Do you take seriously resting one day in seven? What do you do to rest?