I distinctly remember as a child the smell of my father coming in from bailing hay. He would be covered with sweat and dust and would have the exhausted look of someone who had done hard manual labor in the sun. Lifting bales of hay is no easy feat, especially since he was not a spring chicken.
Is that how you picture God on the 7th day after 6 days of intense creation? After all, He had just finished the enormous work of constructing an entire world. Shouldn’t He have wanted to kick up His heels with a cool ice tea and take a siesta? However good that sounds to us, that is not the kind of “rest” Genesis is referring to. God’s rest was not because He was weary and needed a break, but it is referencing that He was finished. The task was beautifully and fully completed. Nothing else in creation had to be done. No extra animals, no extra colors, no additional plants required. The eternal Father was not tired, He had just totally completed his creation activities.
Genesis 2 refers to God blessing this 7th day and making it holy. This was drilled into my head as a child on the Sundays in which my mother loudly murmured about the neighbor who dared to mow his grass on Sunday. I never knew that the Sabbath was instituted originally as an Old Testament symbol of the spiritual true rest that was to eventually come through the finished work of Jesus Christ. All I knew was that in the temporal world, work always returned on Mondays when I could again mow the grass.
In God’s world, the “rest” we can obtain (referred to in Hebrews 4:1-11), means that Jesus Christ performed all the labor to pay for our sins with His death and resurrection. That’s the work Christ was referring to when he loudly declared with His dying breath “It is finished!”. Christ had completed all the heavy lifting for our sins: past, present and future. The rest we gain from His work is able to free one from guilt, makes one able to lie down, be settled, fixed, secure, established, rooted, with no more running around in circles. It is a faith relationship of handing over one’s life keys to God and trusting Him for the rest (literally).
What hinders a person from entering into this type of spiritual rest? Jesus said “It is finished”, but it is so easy to run to the default thinking that through our own works, religious observances, or even one’s own bloodlines, that we can be make ourselves good enough with God. That’s how one misses the boat regarding rest. For God’s rest to be present, we have to totally grasp the humiliating truth that there is not one thing we can do to improve God’s finalized work. What God offers us has already done through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is finished.
Have you ever entered into the delightful spiritual rest of God? Have you made the decision to give up all your strivings and efforts and instead decided to accept the finished work of Christ as payment for your sins? Or perhaps you may consider yourself a believer, but have found yourself entering into an endless exhausting cycle of trying to make yourself better in your own eyes. God says, “Stop!”. It is time to by faith hand the controls of your life over to God, meekly let Him begin to call the shots, and accept that the heavy lifting has been finished by Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” It is time to enter His rest.