Have you ever wondered how an infinitely powerful, self-sustaining, self-sufficient God rests? Exodus 20:11 says “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:” But what is this rest about? The word translated “rested” here, simply means “to withdraw oneself.” He had extended His massive universe-creating, life-giving hands, and now they lay folded on His lap. Isaiah 40:28 tells us that “the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.” He wasn’t exhausted, or tired, He was just done.
Understanding this omnipotent, immutable God certainly leaves us with some definite perspective shifts. Just as He “rested,” establishing a Sabbath, we too should rest. But, contrary to some modern arguments, this Sabbath has less to do with taking a nap all day, and more to do with withdrawing ourselves from the daily, monotonous grind. Exodus 20:11 goes on further to say that God “hallowed” the Sabbath. Literally, He made it “holy.” It was a day that was supposed to draw people toward God and His holiness. It was a day in which people could come apart and in the words of Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
The Sabbath had been a day to allow the people to rest. It had been a day that God had given as a gift to all of His people. But overtly self-righteous, self-exalting, self-justifying men had perverted it. They had taken the gift of God and turned it into the burden of God. They had taken the sacred and made it the complicated. Instead of reveling in the rest that God prescribed, they legislated it and became the “holier-than-thou” judges of all of God’s people.
In Mark 2, Jesus pushes back against this false thinking. In an epic rebuttal of the false-thinking and false-teaching of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” It was a holy, special day, where no longer would they be expected to toil and ache. Instead they could come away for a time of rest, and recuperation, and holy meditation. God’s purposes had been defamed by the religious crowd, and Jesus had finally cleared it up.
Food For Thought: What is the purpose of the Sabbath? What does it say about God that He would give His people a Sabbath?