It’s interesting to note the pattern of life as recorded in Genesis 1 puts trusting sleep before toiling work (‘There was evening and there was morning – the first day.’ (Gen 1:5)) We think of sleep as coming at the end of hard work, but God seems to create the day so that sleep is the launchpad into work. We work from a position of trust and rest. This puts a very different perspective on our daily work.
God has also provided Sabbath rest to supplement and shape the rhythm of the week. Sabbath rest – the principle of ceasing our activities one day a week to rest and worship God – is a fundamental commandment in Scripture (see Ex 16:23-29, Ex 20:8-10, Ex 35:12) and again, it’s interesting that traditionally Sunday – the day Christians reshaped as the Sabbath to remember and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus – is regarded as the first day of the week and not the last. This fits in with the Biblical pattern that rest is the springboard to work, not simply God’s ‘solution’ to a ‘crazy busy world’ but the provision for strength to toil for six days.
Do Christians have to keep the Sabbath? We often associate the Sabbath with rules and regulations and affirm that we are too busy to devote a whole day to rest. Yet the principle of weekly rest and the command to set time aside for God and for family, recreation and refreshment, cannot and should not be dismissed. Sabbath rest and worship, including collective gatherings, are still hugely important for all people today. No amount of technology can ever replace the simple, God-given principle of Sabbath rest. God Himself rested from work to set the precedent of Sabbath rest and so we need this weekly rest day if we are to live fruitful spiritual lives.