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).
Rest is essential to health, spiritually and physically. God patterned rest into all of creation. Days are for work, nights are for rest (unless you work third shift and your life is reversed!!). We sleep one third of our lives! In the above verses, God worked six days, and rested on the seventh day. As a leader, He created a pattern for us to follow. One of the Ten Commandments has to do with honoring that seventh day rest. God created us with a rest need.
Some years ago, God began to deal with me strongly about taking a day off. I think we Americans are the worst at thinking we really gain by working every day.
We’re wired to work hard, and then take a break. Without rest, we give no opportunity to rejuvenate the systems of our bodies. Stress is a major factor in illness. Studies indicate that we are more efficient at work after rest, hence a morning and afternoon break is encouraged during work hours.
He’s an interesting tidbit. In Leviticus 25: 1-7, God commanded the Israelites to allow the land to rest every seventh year. He promised that what they grew in the sixth year and what the land voluntarily grew the seventh year would be plenty to feed them. The land was not to be cultivated. Only volunteer crops could grow. In that way the land was refreshed (one reason we should take vitamins is because we’ve depleted the soil of needed nutrients by lack of crop rotation and land rest with our current farming methods; instead we add fertilizer to make the plants grow, and we’re left depleted of much mineral content in our food).
The Israelites did not obey God’s command to let the land rest every seventh year, and boy did they pay for it! One of the reasons they went into captivity for 70 years in Babylon was so that the land could enjoy the Sabbaths they never gave it (See 2 Chronicles 36:21). They went 490 years without obeying God and allowing the land to rest, so He forced the issue. They missed 70 of the seventh years land Sabbaths during this 490 year period of their history. Babylonian captivity was the results of their general disobedience to God’s word and this included their disobedience to His land command!
Perhaps in some measure we also force ourselves to be captive to stress, tiredness, premature aging, sickness, and emotional duress because we don’t give our bodies the needed rest each night and one day each week. Just a thought.
Proverbs 14:30 reads, A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones. Take a break each week, or one day you may be forced to take it!
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:9-11).