The God Given Rhythms Of Work And Rest
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:9-10).
A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body, but envy, jealousy, and wrath are like rottenness of the bones (Proverbs 14:30 -Amplified).
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. (29) Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. (30) Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30 – The Message).
Periods of rest are necessary if we are to remain healthy and at our best spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.
God placed the rhythms of work and rest into creation. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:3). Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).
We are created to need a break. Dr. Ron Cottle says in his Book entitled The Ten Commandments: God set a rhythm of rest into nature. There is the summertime of growth, and the winter of rest – when the sap of life goes down and the trees are like dead. There is a rhythm in zoological life in which there is the day of working and the night for sleeping – activity and renewal, working and resting. This rhythm is basic and vital to life as God created it.
God also gave the commandment of a 7th year land rest to Israel. And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. (3) Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land — all its produce shall be for food” (Leviticus 25:1-7).
The nation of Israel became captive to Babylon for 70 years because it violated this every seventh year land rest. For 490 years, Israel disobeyed the land rest commandment to let the land rest every seventh year. During that time, Israel missed seventy land rest sabbaths. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah that Israel would have to make up for the seventy missed land sabbaths by going into captivity into Babylon for seventy years!
And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years (2 Chronicles 36:20-21). And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11).
Years ago, I was reading the book of Daniel, and thought about this land rest that God set in motion for Israel and how they disobeyed it, thus going into Babylonian captivity for seventy years. While I was reading, the Lord spoke to me and said, Mitch, if you refuse to take your regular rest, the sabbath rest you should have taken once a week may come off the end of your life! I got the message.
I make sure I rest well every night. Every seven days, I take a break. Every seven weeks I try to take a weekend away from preaching. In addition, I take a family vacation in December and during the summer. My heart is to continue what I do well into my senior years. The only way that is possible is to take regular intervals of rest!
I reduce both the quality and length of my life when I choose to neglect necessary rest.
I will continue this theme of rest tomorrow. For now, I will leave you with some great quotes I obtained from Charles Spurgeon in his book Lectures to my Students, pages 174-175:
The bow cannot be always bent without fear of breaking. Repose is as needful to the mind as sleep to the body.
Even the earth must lie fallow and have her sabbaths, and so must we.
Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength.
…A little pause prepares the mind for greater service in the good cause.
Fishermen must mend their nets, and we must every now and then repair our mental waste and get our machinery in order for future service.
To tug the oar from day to day like a galley slave who knows no holidays, suites no mortal man.
Millstreams go on forever, but we must have our pauses and intervals.
Who can help but be out of breath when the race is continued without intermission.
Even beasts of burden must be turned out to grass occasionally; the sea pauses at ebb and flood; earth keeps the sabbath of wintry months; and a man, when exalted to be God’s ambassador, must rest or faint; must trim his lamp or let it burn low; must recruit his vigor or grow prematurely old.
It is wisdom to take an occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall sometimes do more by doing less.
On, on, on, forever may suit or spirits emancipated from this heavy clay, but while we are in this tabernacle, we must every now and then cry halt, and serve the Lord with Holy inaction and consecrated leisure.
Let no tender conscience doubt the lawfulness of going out of harness for a while, but learn from the experience of others the necessity of timely rest.