A major change in society over the past several decades has been our attitude towards working and shopping on Sunday. Sunday used to be a day of rest and very little activity took place in retail or commercial businesses. Today, that is no longer the case. The majority of people probably still have a day off work on Sunday, but it certainly is not a day of rest. A lot of shopping and dining out takes place on Sunday as well as recreation and household chores.
So what does the Bible say about a day of rest? This subject is too big to cover in one post, so in this post, I will focus on what Genesis has to say about a day of rest. Let’s look at Genesis 1-2.
Genesis 1 tells us how God created the universe and everything in it in 6 days. Genesis 2:1-3 tell us about the seventh day. As you read these verses, pay attention to what the verses actually say about resting. Notice the words “blessed” and “sanctified”. How should these concepts influence our thinking?
Gen. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.
Gen. 2:2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Gen. 2:3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Notice several things.
1. God rested on the seventh day.
2. This passage does not tell people to rest on the seventh day.
3. God blessed the seventh day.
4. God sanctified the seventh day.
So the passage does not tell us to rest, but there is this concept of the seventh day being blessed and sanctified. The biblical definition of bless is similar to bestowing an inheritance. Sanctified means to set apart or make special. So this passage focuses on God bestowing special status on the seventh day as much as it focuses on rest.
Is the seventh day blessed and sanctified? Let me answer that with a question? Why does the whole world use a seven day week? The length of a year is based on the earth’s revolution around the sun, the length of a month was originally based on the phases of the moon, and the length of a day is based on the earth’s rotation on its axis, but there is no astronomical basis for the length of a week. The reason why the whole world follows a seven day week is because God blessed and sanctified the seventh day.
So what is the conclusion about resting? Genesis 1-2 does not tell us to rest on the seventh day, but God did set an example of resting. Furthermore, the fact that the Bible tells us that God rested on the seventh day means that God wants us to know that He rested. Since God ceased activity and rested for a period of time and made sure that we know that He rested, perhaps as we go about our lives, we should be deliberate about setting aside time to cease activity and rest.
Eph. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
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“Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.”