I ask a lot of questions. One question that I think is important to ask as I read a passage of Scripture is, “Through this narrative, what is God trying to communicate to us?”
For answers, understanding the context is essential. What God reveals in Scripture about Himself and His ways doesn’t change from one generation to another or from one culture to another. The text can never accurately mean something to us today that it never meant to the original audience. I once heard it said that God’s message in Scripture transcends culture yet it is culture bound.
So, contextually it is believed that Genesis was recorded by Moses when the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness after escaping 400 years of slavery and oppression. In Egypt, they had been “worked ruthlessly, their lives made bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields” (Exodus 1:13-14).
At some point after their miraculous exodus, Moses shared God’s story of creation. He detailed how God created everything in six days. And when God finished, He declared His masterpiece was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). On the seventh day, He rested (Genesis 2:2-3).
Is God explaining that He required rest because He was exhausted? No, that doesn’t line up with the entirety of Scripture. Surely we are to recognize that nothing more was needed. Everything was perfect. The Master Artisan acknowledged that His creation was complete so He rested. He took a day to enjoy everything He had brought into existence. Maybe that’s what rest is supposed to be…moments of pure delight, satisfaction, and enjoyment.
For generations and generations, the downtrodden Israelites had been told that their value and worth was based upon how much they did, how many bricks they produced. They worked hard but the production quota expected from them only increased. They were never good enough. They could never do enough.
Maybe God wanted His original audience to know that they were valuable to their Creator. Maybe He wanted them to see that their worth was not based on anything they accomplished.
Their souls were most likely thirsty to know they were of immeasurable worth that had absolutely nothing to do with what they could do for God. He loved them. He needed nothing from them. They were His beloved children. Accepted. Chosen for greatness.
Maybe one reason God created a day of rest was so mankind would rest, reflect, and remember how much we are loved and valued.
This world hasn’t changed. Our culture tells us in subtle and not so subtle ways that our worth is based on our accomplishments or our accumulations. And we always seem to fall short.
Perhaps we desperately need a day of rest, shifting our eyes away from the world’s incessant demands, towards our loving God who has determined we have great importance merely because we are His outstanding workmanship, created with great joy and delight for fellowship with Him.
Perhaps the key to living this life with joy, peace, confidence, value and purpose can be discovered in the practice of resting, remembering how fiercely we are loved by God and loving Him in return.
Questions to ponder:
Do I consistently rest?
Am I resting in who God says I am or am I listening to how this world attempts to define me?
forced into lives of hard labor “with