When the heavens and the earth were finished, God rested. On the seventh day, God rested. God rested from work- all the work.
Now, unlike the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth days which were clearly set in time, beginning with evening and ending with morning, the day of rest is not so clearly delineated.
Here is what I wrote yesterday: “What we do know is that it took time. Each of those six days were marked by a beginning (evening) and an ending (morning). See verses 5, 8, 13, 19, 23 and 31. So days 1 through six belong to the temporal realm, not the eternal”.
Could it be that the day of rest, connecting us with the eternal, is much more than a temporal matter? Not just cessation of physical labour but all striving, and tiring trying, and all that depends solely on our own steam? It almost sounds like finding time outside of time!
Here is Jesus’ invitation and promise as we read it in Matthew 11: 28-29.
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 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.
Oh that today, as the psalmist invites us to (Psalm 95), we would hear God’s voice and not ignore it.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
We certainly need rest from our physical work, but there remains that sustaining, renewing rest promised to those who wait on God (Isaiah 40). It takes us into God’s eternal presence where the circumstances and situations of the present are transcended, as if time is no longer of the essence.
Let’s make time(i.e. find time) to be with God yes; but then let’s not be keeping time, watching the time, like “time is money” time, that we miss the rest. That rest is deeper than time, first, third or seventh day, when that means limited time.
Here, the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, in the fourth chapter, reminds us:
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For indeed the good news came to us just as to them; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,
“As in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
O day of rest and gladness
O day of joy and light,
O balm of care and sadness,
Most beautiful, most bright!
On thee the high and lowly,
Through ages joined in tune
Sing: holy, holy, holy,
To the great God Triune.
Christopher Wordsworth, 1807-85