Work and rest are key parts of God’s cycle of time, which He has designed with purposeful functionality.
Both work and rest are clearly mandated in the Bible, which we can see in God’s own example, His commands, and the way He designed nature. While God made work part of our purpose in His creation, He also made sure to put a limit to our working hours.
First, we are to sleep enough every day (Jamie, are you hearing this?).
Right from the very beginning, God made day and night (Genesis 1:4–5), each of which has its place in the functioning of daily life. In the day, as Psalm 104:22–23 notes, “people go out to their work, to their labour until evening”.
This suggests that before the era of overtime, night shifts, and working across global time zones, work was meant to end when the day did. As Proverbs 3:24 assures us in this lullaby-like lyric:
“When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”
Second, we need to rest each week.
God’s plan for the week, as Exodus 20:9–11 shows, is clear:
“Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work . . . for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”
Modern-day schedules may not always allow us to take a break on Saturdays or Sundays, but we can certainly keep the principle behind the Sabbath rest.
And while the Sabbath rest was expressed as a command for God’s people, it’s also a gift. A truly sweet respite from the days of constant work, duties, and responsibilities. A much-needed break to recharge and recover physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually.
God gives us the day of rest to enjoy His presence and His creation. It is a time to stop striving, and to simply worship Him. The Sabbath is called “holy” because it is meant to be set apart for God.
God Himself did the same. After six days of creation, “on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).