The first day my wife and I moved into our new home, open boxes were littering the rooms, everything was without order. Our house functioned properly (plumbing, electricity, roof), but our house was not yet a home.
Each day we would unpack boxes and assign each room a particular function. When our unpacking was done, we rested. Similarly, this is what God did on the 7th day of creation.
God took the first six days to prepare a place of residence, and on the 7th day, He “settled in.” He set up residence in creation with humanity so that He could dwell with them, and they with Him.
The seven-day creation narrative isn’t so much a house story of material origins as much as it is a home story where God creates a sacred space for His dwelling place with humanity.
The purpose of the seven days of creation is God ordering the cosmos to place His presence in it, and rule it with humanity. Day seven is the reason for days one through six. If God doesn’t rest with His creation, then the first six days are without purpose.
We should think of the earth as not just a house (a mere material structure), but a home for God and His people. This is the picture of the Garden in the East, in Eden.
God set this pattern of living, but we reject His design to maintain the authoritative claim on our lives. We may not realize it, but it’s rebellion against God’s pattern of living. In other words, God set us a model to have a day of rest so that we could enjoy Him, each other, and His creation.
Yet, instead of yielding to this design, we exercise control over our lives by continually working (instead of carving out a day of rest) to accomplish our obligations and tasks. Therefore we find ourselves exhausted and restless.
As humans, we are burdened with hard work and struggling relationships, and therefore we are longing to find deep, meaningful rest with each other and with God. By setting aside a day to rest from work, we are participating in God’s good design for our lives, but there is still a heart-level restlessness that we feel between God and us, and with others.
Jesus’ promise to give us rest finds us well:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:28
Jesus promises that those who turn back to God’s ways will find rest for their innermost being. (Rest for their souls.) So when we observe the sabbath, we are living in this reality by resting in God’s presence. We are taking a break from the constant demands and rhythms of our toil and labor and setting a time of submission to God’s design and pattern, to live as God wants us to live- in rest, with Him. God wants us to experience life-giving rest.
God has ordered the cosmos with the purpose of taking up His residence in it and ruling over it. Day seven is the reason for days one through six. It is the fulfillment of God’s purpose for His creation.
God’s intent for Sabbath rest is a wholesome unity with God and us, with each other, and with the creation that we are ruling over. Sabbath is just the way things should be, and we were meant to live in this reality.
Finally, when we intentionally stop our daily rhythms and submit to God’s purpose for our rest, we are inviting God to become welcome in our homes and hearts and allowing His authority to guide and shape our lives.
As a community of people who follow Jesus, we are inviting him to give us rest from our weary toil and struggling relationships.
We are inviting the life-giving God to heal us from the wounds that the world has inflicted upon us. And, we are inviting God’s promises to give us hope, finding deep, meaningful rest in this life- and forever with Jesus in the life to come.