What if rest doesn’t really mean what we think it means?
Rest in the Bible doesn’t mean “not working.”
It means to begin the regular rhythms and routines that are present in a time of safety and stability, when we have enough, when we are with people who love us.
God always wanted his people to live in peace, in rest. God was always inviting his people not only into his presence, but into his rule and reign, into his kingdom of peace.
When God is in charge, things are right.
Rest for the People
God promised to give his people “rest” when they entered the Promised Land and were delivered from all their enemies (Deut. 12: 10-11; Josh 21:44; 23:1). Entering into “rest” didn’t mean the people would enter a perpetual vacation. It meant they could actually start living their lives—fully delivered from Egypt and all their other enemies. As John Walton say, “When Israel’s enemies no longer threaten, they can go about their lives: planting and harvesting, buying and selling, raising their families and serving God” (The Lost World of Genesis One, 74). This is what God meant when he promised his people rest, that they could start their ordinary lives free of distraction or danger.
Resting after Creation
When God’s work of Creation was finished, it meant that he had overcome the disorder, the chaos, the emptiness at the beginning of all things. God had established order, peace, and had filled what was empty (see this series of Creation as the Temple of God).
God’s work of setting everything up was finished.
But God wasn’t tired. Now it was time to live!
If we think of creation as a house, after the sixth day then the walls were painted, the furniture was in place, the kitchen was ready for cooking. It was time to REST from the preparation. And it was time to BEGIN the regular work of living. It was time for all of life to flourish in the restful reign of God’s peace and goodness. On the seventh day, God moves in to the new house. He is present to His people and His Creation. Now it’s time to live purposefully — on purpose — in this new home.
Resting and Reigning
For God to rest from the work of creation means that God begins the regular work of caring for and ruling over creation.
God’s rest and rule flow from his residence—this residence is the overlapping of heaven and earth, the temple of Creation. Creation is God’s home — the place where he lives with his family. It’s also God’s headquarters — the place from which He does his work.
This article originally appeared here.