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  • Writer's pictureZack DeBruyne

What Does the Bible Say About Rest?

/ R E S T /

What do you know about the term ‘Sabbath’?


Why is it so hard to find real rest as students?


Why do you think that God would command something like a Sabbath in the Bible?


/ B U S Y B U S Y /

  • As University students, we are all busy, all the time. There is always some reading, assignment, or project you could be working on at any given moment.

  • You never reach the ‘end’ until you are completed your exams. And even then, you are moving on to part-time Summer jobs, vacation plans, seeing friends and family. It doesn’t seem like there is often much time set aside for rest.

  • So how are we supposed to rest? Even more, why should we make time for a Sabbath if it could have a negative effect on our grades?

    • Great questions, thanks for asking.

/ S A B B A T H D E F I N E D /

Sabbath: ‘Rested’ - Shabbot - Stop, cease, rest, find a place of quiet.

/ S A B B A T H A S G O D ‘ S R E S T/

Read: Genesis 2:1-3

  • Rest: Freed from time-consuming everyday work, man should accept the seventh day as a blessing from his Creator (using it to recall all God’s goodness in creation and to praise him for it), and recognize the claim it makes on his life.

    • As a day “set aside,” the sabbath is a reminder that all time is the Creator’s gift—a fact that man acknowledges when he consciously gives back to God part of what is his anyway.

  • ‘Blessed’ - Barak - To praise, fill with strength (Gen 2:3)

  • Made Holy’- Qadesh - To set apart for God, to make sacred, to dedicate (Gen. 2:3)

  • God Rested - "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."

Do we think about rest as being set apart to be filled with strength? Or do we talk about rest as laziness?


Why do you think that it is so important that Gen. 2:2 says that even "God rested"?


/ R E S T F O R G O D ‘ S P E O P L E/

Read: Exodus 31:12-17

  • “The Sabbath,” God instructs Moses, “is a sign between me and you throughout your generations … for ever between me and the people of Israel”

  • After man had spoiled his relationship with God by falling into sin (Gn 3), God himself set about repairing the damage.

  • He began by saving Noah from the flood, and by selecting first a man (Abraham) and then a nation (Israel) to convey his redeeming love to the world.

  • Each stage in the redemption story was marked by a covenant sign. In Noah’s case it was the rainbow and in Abraham’s circumcision (Gn 9:8–13; 17:1–14).

  • With Israel, and now with us today, God’s symbol of his redeeming, compassionate love is the Sabbath. An underscore on God’s promises of mercy to give his people rest from the pursuits of the world.

    • Israel, in Exodus, is receiving rest from their years of slavery in Egypy.

/ G I V I N G R E S T T O A L L /

Read: Leviticus 25:3-7, Deuteronomy 15:1-3,

  • The prohibition of all work on the sabbath day is followed by an explanatory note—“that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you” (Dt 5:14).

    • Not just the chosen people of God, but all people!

  • Year of Jubilee / ‘Sabbatical’ Year: Every seventh year the land was to “lie fallow before the Lord, uncultivated” (Lv 25:4 LB).

    • It needed a regular rest just as much as the people it sustained, but the primary purpose of this law was clearly philanthropic and benevolent: “let the poor among the people harvest any volunteer crop that may come up; leave the rest for the animals to enjoy.”

  • Deuteronomy 15 extends the same humanitarian principle into the world of commerce. The sabbatical year must see the cancelling of all debts within God’s redeemed community.

    • “Every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother” (v 2).

  • Historical Note: Both Alexander the Great and the Romans excused Jews from paying taxes every seventh year in recognition of the depth of their religious convictions.

How does the fact that God commands and provides rest for all people and all creation show the importance of Sabbath rest?


/ S O W H A T I S T H E S A B B A T H ? /

It is a…

/ R E M I N D E R /

  • Taking a Sabbath is a step back from our tireless pursuit of achievement, of checking things off of our to do list.

  • It is an intentional, weekly reminder that it is God who provides all that we have.

    • “ He provides food for those who fear him…” Psalm 111:5

  • A reminder that we must not trust in our own power and strength, but in that which God gives to us freely, every day.

/ R E L A T I O N S H I P /

  • The sabbath was intended to be a blessing, not a burden. Above everything else, it was a weekly sign that the Lord loved his people and wanted to draw them into an ever closer relationship with himself.

  • A day set aside to intentionally spend growing your relationship with Christ Jesus.

/ R E D E M P T I O N /

  • Defined: ‘To be delivered’

    • What does the Sabbath deliver us from?

      1. Ourselves - Our ability to try to do everything in our own power

      2. Worldly Ideals - Our participation in the world and the pressures from our society to pursue personal worldly success over all else

      3. Pressure - Our tendency to put pressure on ourselves to be perfect Christians, always doing God’s will. The sabbath is redemptive in that it reminds us of God’s promises to us in light of our brokenness.

  • Redemption: The sabbath is God’s signpost, pointing not only to his goodness toward all men as their Creator, but also to his mercy toward his chosen people as their Redeemer.

  • God cares for and delivers all of His people -- from Noah, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Moses, and the Israelites.

  • The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of God’s faithfulness, of His promises to care and protect us, and of His love in blessing us with a holy day of needed rest.

/ B U T, W H A T C O U N T S A S R E S T ? /

This is from a talk given by Timothy Keller in 2018

  • Of course, ”making the most of every opportunity” is not simple. It never has been simple.

  • Yes, two hours spent in prayer with God will produce far more spiritual benefits than watching an old Disney movie; yet, recreation is something you must have!

  • Mental refreshment is part of a balanced diet for the body and soul, so prayer cannot replace all recreation, exercise, and so on. Sabbath encompasses several different types of rest, as outlined below.

1. Inactivity.

  • Most people need some time every week that is unplanned and unstructured, in which you can do whatever you feel like doing.

  • If your Sabbath time is very busy and filled with scheduled activities of “recreation” and ministry, it will not suffice.

  • This pause in the work cycle is analogous to Israel’s practice of letting a field lie fallow every seventh year to produce whatever happened to grow (Leviticus 25:1–7). The soil rested so over-farming would not deplete its nutrients and destroy its ability to keep producing. Whatever came up in the soil came up.

  • You need some unscheduled time like that every week to let come up—out of the heart and mind—whatever will.

2. Avocational activity.

An avocation is something that is sheer pleasure to you, but that does require some intentionality and gives some structure to your Sabbath rest.

  • You need some contemplative rest. Prayer and worship are a critical part of Sabbath rest, from any perspective. Regular time for devotion, reading the Scripture, and listening to God forms the basis for inner rest and provides time away from the more exhausting exertions of life.

  • You need some recreational rest. Be careful that recreation really refreshes.

  • You need to include aesthetic rest. Expose yourself to works of God’s creation that refresh and energize you, and that you find beautiful. This may mean outdoor things. It may mean art—music, drama, and visual art. God looked around at the world he made and said it was good, so aesthetic rest is necessary for participating in God’s Sabbath fully.

3. Consider whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.

  • When planning your Sabbath rest, ask yourself what really “recharges” you. This self-assessment can help you determine how relational your Sabbath time should be. Introverts tend to spend their energy when out with people and recharge their batteries by being alone.

  • Extroverts tend to spend energy in personal work and recharge their batteries by getting out with people.

  • If you are a real introvert, be careful about trying to maintain all of your community-building relationships during your Sabbath time. That would be too draining. On the other hand, relationship-building could be one of the greatest things a true extrovert could possibly do.

  • Don’t try to imitate an introvert’s Sabbath rhythms if you are an extrovert or vice versa!

    • Recognize that some avocational activities take you into solitude, while some take you out into society.

4. Honor both micro- and macro-rhythms in your seasons of rest.

  • Israel’s Sabbath cycles of rest-and-work included not only Sabbath days but also Sabbath years and even a Year of Jubilee every forty-nine years (Leviticus 25:8–11).

  • This is a crucial insight for workers in today’s world. It is possible to voluntarily take on a season of work that requires high energy, long hours, and insufficient weekly- Sabbath time.

/ P R A C T I C E /

As we anticipate the shift of our routines and schedules, as classes wrap up and exams and study come to the head – this provides us with a wonderful opportunity to start off on the right foot forward.

  • Write out your weekly schedule and sit down with an someone who will help you identify where in your week you can set aside a full 24 hours for a Sabbath.

  • Ask your mentor or friend to keep you accountable (in taking your Sabbath)

  • Think about what kind of activities revitalize and revive you? What brings you rest?

  • Here are some ideas of what kind of activities other people do on their Sabbath (pick one or two):

    • Go on a hike, go see a movie, read, take a nap, go on a road trip, workout, go out to lunch, spend time journaling, playing a musical instrument, listening to music, spend quality time with God/friends, go on an adventure, go to farmers market, take another nap, go swimming, paint, go skateboarding, go to a coffee shop, go rock climbing, kayaking, volleyball, baking, cooking, bowling, eat again, etc.

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