Too Busy to RestDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
And on the seventh day, God finished all his work and he rested.
In Luke 4, we have the record of Jesus’ first sermon. It’s the Sabbath day, and the scroll of Isaiah is handed to Jesus. He reads,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Is. 61:1–2)
Then Jesus hands the scroll back and says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” With Jesus, our Sabbath rest has come. The Sabbath days and years and the year of Jubilee were a sign of the redemption that God had promised to Eve, that one of her offspring would crush the head of the serpent and would make all things new, restoring what had been marred and broken by sin. Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise. Jesus is our Sabbath rest. Jesus is our Jubilee. When Jesus claims to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, he promises to comfort the poor, free those who are in prison, and bring forth the Lord’s favor. His ministry is filled with foretastes of what is to come when he returns again: he healed the sick, bound up and cast out demons, fed the hungry, gave sight to the blind, comforted and accepted the outcast, and resurrected the dead. All these things point forward to the rest God will give his people.
The day is coming when God will fully redeem his people. We long for this day to come and rightly we should pray often, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” But in the meantime, we are to keep the Sabbath. Why?
Keeping the Sabbath is an act of worship and should include the gathering together for public corporate worship. The Bible is very clear on the need for the people of God to gather together to worship. We need each other in worship, and nowhere do you find in Scripture the idea of substituting the public gathering of worship with private individualized worship, whether hiking on a Sunday morning or watching a preacher on television or even reading the daily reflection from The High Calling.
Sabbath observance should also include feasting and fellowship. It is for good reason that the central ritual of Christianity is a meal—the Lord’s Supper. God intends his people to feast on creation, to rest in it, to enjoy it, and to celebrate his incredible provision together. If all we are doing together is public formal worship and we never gather together to feast, we have missed the full extent of both worship and rest.
Keeping the Sabbath is an act of faith. It is a difficult thing these days to actually refrain from working. Even on my day off, I find myself working on the house or feeling the need to be busy. But many people feel they can’t take time off from work. There’s too much homework, too much awaiting me at the office, too much I need to get done in order just to live. Or perhaps worse, if we aren’t being productive then we feel like we are being lazy. If this is the case, then God himself must be lazy too.
The ancient Israelites in their agrarian culture had a hard time letting go of their work, in particular when God commanded that the land lie fallow for an entire year. “But there is so much work to be done! How will I eat?! How will I provide for myself and my family?!” God’s answer—and the answer God continues to give to us today—is this: I will provide for you.
May we continue to place our trust in God. This is why it is good for us to return to Jesus’ admonition in the Sermon on the Mount that he will provide for our needs—he even feeds the birds and clothes the lilies of the field, how much more will he take care of us? In our modern, capitalist society, perhaps one of the most counter-cultural things Christians can do is actually worship and rest on the Sabbath.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How do you worship on Sundays? Is it easy to skip out on church services or sleep in? Do you feel the need to worship and feast with others? Can you actually rest on the Sabbath? Do you feel you have too much to do or do you feel lazy for not working? Why is that?
PRAYER: Lord, you are our Sabbath and our rest. You are our life and our abundance. Teach us to trust you and your provision for us. Confirm in us that you will fulfill everything you have promised to us, especially life forever with you. Amen.
P. S. from Marcus Goodyear, acting Editor-in-Chief: Dave Peterson is on vacation this week, and we are delighted to bring you reflections from Dr, Rob Fossett. Dr. Fossett has adapted these reflections from his upcoming series of Sermon Notes from The High Calling. Later this summer, The High Calling will share Dr. Fossett’s sermons with thousands of subscribing pastors who want to teach their congregation a theological view of work. We know you will enjoy Rob’s wisdom as he invites us to reflect with him each morning.