By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day God rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
This comes from the first story of creation. (Yes, there are two creation stories, but you knew that already.) The first one is told incrementally, in days. By day six God is done creating. God “rests” on the seventh day, as you can see in the above text.
Just so you know, God isn’t really resting. God doesn’t need to nap. Remember Psalm 121? God will not let your foot slip— God who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, God who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Does Psalm 121 contradict Genesis 2? Only if you read the Bible literally. (Reminder: we Lutherans in the ELCA don’t read the Bible literally. Just like our Jewish brothers and sisters who don’t read the Hebrew Bible literally.)
This part in Genesis 2 is less about God resting and more about God being “large and in charge” over His creation (see Psalm 121, no contradictions) and the blessing of the seventh day. Since Sunday is the first day of the week, Saturday is that blessed day. This is why our Jewish brothers and sisters rest and worship on Saturday (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown). We worship on Sunday because it is the day of resurrection!
Later on in Exodus we find out why this day is special:
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lordyour God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lordmade the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lordblessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
God models for us a day of rest. God doesn’t need rest, but models a healthy rhythm of human life.
It is good for us to have a sabbath rest. A day to refrain from work. We honor God by resting (no, not all the time). I forgot how important that is until I took last week off and literally did close to nothing. See, I often do a little work on my day off, just so I can lighten my load on my work days. There are always emails that demand a response.
The truth is this, it is difficult to take a Sabbath day when you work for God. I didn’t realize how much I needed some down time until I went on vacation with Mrs. Pastor Ben this past week. I literally rested all week, I was either in bed, by the pool (in the shade) or on the beach. I actually cleared my head. Often when I stare off, I am thinking about something. This past week when I would stare off, I wasn’t thinking about anything. That was new for me.
Taking a sabbath day may honor God, but it is good for us. I discovered that this past week. God is good and made sure I didn’t do any work and so did Rachel.
I will try to rest more on my day off too.