#3 - Work at Rest!

So we have explored the idea of what is going on in creation beyond the length of time and order. One of the questions we asked was concerning the genre of the literature itself and what that teaches us about the creation story and the author’s point.

I would suggest that the main points that we can hang on to (among many others I am sure) are that: 1. God is not mad. 2. Creation is good. 3. God’s word brings order to chaos. 4. Man is part of the created goodness. 5. The creation story reaffirms God’s belief in creation and in mankind. 6. Because this is where God’s story starts, it is where our story must start.

Now, there is this interesting thing that happens towards the end of the creation sequence in Genesis 2:

Genesis 2:1-3English Standard Version (ESV)

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Again, let’s take a cursory look at this and see if we can learn something about God and His idea of how creation is supposed to function. Our big ideas:

  1. Things drew to a close - they were finished.
  2. God rested.
  3. God blessed the rest day.

Let’s look at each of these and see if we can learn somethings about our bigger purpose as stewards of creation.

First of all, God created to a point. And then stopped. That should matter. Let me give you an example of what I mean. I have a “waterfall” in my back yard. I say waterfall because water can fall down it and it would recirculate the water back up to the top. However, it does not look good. Not because it has never looked good. But because I cannot stop tinkering.

I got this great idea one day to build this waterfall on a slope in my backyard. It is the perfect location for a waterfall. And I attacked it with a passion. I purchased liners, pumps, piping, the whole bit. And I built it. And it worked. And then, I got this idea - I could make it run better. So I tore it apart, added another pump, and reconfigured the top fall. And then, I got this idea - I could make it look nicer. So we bought plants and gravel, and lined it with bigger stones to help with the lines. And then, I got this idea - I could have a bottom pool that has no standing water in it. So I filled the bottom pool with gravel and reconfigured the fall rate. And then, I got this idea - I could change the way the water falls and create some angles to give it a pop. So I tore the whole thing up and moved plants and gravel and liners and piping and pumps. And then, I got this idea, I could move this whole thing to a new location and rather than having a waterfall, I could have a water wall that would cover up some retaining wall. And now, neither of these is done and they are both torn apart. And my back yard looks terrible.

We have to know when enough is enough. God has given us a piece of Himself. And in that, He gave us a desire to create. But creation can’t go on without end. It has to have boundaries that tell creating to be finished. The only cells in the body that don’t know when to be done creating new cells are called cancer.

Think about the famous statue of David. What if the sculpture just kept tinkering with it? eventually, it would just be a stone toothpick. Creating and creation itself has to have boundaries in order to function properly. This is why we need El Shaddai. This name of God is a difficult one to translate. But the best way to render it that I know of is that He is the God who knows when to say enough.

How many ways can we apply that idea? Millions! First, we have boundaries. They are given by God Himself. So it might be good for us to know that the God who gave us these boundaries is not mad. And that through His boundaries (and we will explore the boundaries specifically in a future post) He must reaffirm the goodness of creation and our ability to steward it because that is how the story starts. Second, for those of us that are perfectionists, we must understand that the desire to do everything excellently is good. But the inability to let it go and move on is a statement of value about how God feels about us. And that statement is inconsistent with what God has already said about you.

Creation must stop at some point. There must be a finish line for creation. There must be a point where we say - “That is enough.” We look a lot like God when we do that.

That is important. Because it opens a conversation that we will have multiple times on our journey through the Bible. That is - Why does God give us that law? One reason for the “rules, laws, and commands” of Scripture is that God is helping us stay in the boundaries that allow creation to function best.

The second major point here is - God rested. That should seem odd to us. Even if we have read this passage a million times and just learned to gloss over it, this is odd if you pull it out and think about it. Let’s consider another passage written in Scripture:

Psalm 121:3-5English Standard Version (ESV)

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

It seems odd to me in light of this resting of God and its apparent priority in the story that God is said to never sleep or slumber here. And that this never needing to sleep is the criteria for His being able to be my keeper. So, which is it? does He need rest or not?

Maybe God is setting a stage for how important it is for us to mirror Him in all our actions. So we are like Him in our creating and stewarding. But we are also to be like Him in knowing how far is far enough, and how far is too far. Maybe the idea of God resting is rooted in you and me learning somehow to trust Him more. And in trusting Him more, we learn to love Him more. Maybe God’s resting is for us to learn to trust that when He says enough, He means it, and He can cover the distance between where we are and what is left.

And maybe that is a very important lesson for us to learn. On one hand, the passion and energy that we get from knowing that God is not mad and that He looks at us with love calling out our potential is great. But that passion can be easily lost in the grind of achievement and production. Rest makes us stop long enough to do two things: one, refuel and two, trust that my production isn’t the goal of my work. And that leads me to the third major point of this.

The third major point is that God blessed this day of rest.

This is huge. This blessed day of doing nothing is blessed because God made it. Not because it is useful or because it produces anything, although you could make a case for it doing both of those things. It is blessed because God says so. And that is enough to demand a response. And God seems to be pretty serious about that. It is the only day that gets a name. And this command shows up in the “BIG 10.” This day is holy. This day is sacred. This day is blessed. Why is this day all these things? Because God made it that way.

And it becomes the sign of the Jewish covenant with God. That while the rest of the world clamors 7 days a week to get ahead, we take a day off to remind us (among other things) of who it is that is the source of all good things. In this context, this day of rest isn’t considered lazy, it is considered precious and sacred and … enough.

And this blessed day reminds of something else that is just as important. We must be pretty special to God that He would do this for us. Maybe one of the functions of Sabbath is to show us that God sees us like He sees this day. The day is holy and blessed and sacred and given a special name and place among the other days. And all those things are true of you as well. You are holy and sacred and blessed. You are.

Not because you produce anything.

Not because you are prettier or bigger or stronger.

Not because you work harder than anyone else.

You are these things because God made you this way. You are what God says you are. He made this place and He decides what things are and how they should function. And He wrote us an owner’s manual. Does this sound familiar? It should.

Here is the dance, will we allow what God says about us to be what we say about ourselves? As we will see soon enough, there will be another voice that will enter the scene. And that voice tells us some very different things about who we are and how we are supposed to function.

At this point, let me be clear. Sin, lies, satan, flesh, others - none of these get to say who I am or who you are. Only God has the right to tell you the truth of who you really are. And He calls you blessed. So, rest in the grace of a God that is going ahead of you to cross the “t’s” and dot the “i’s” of your life. He has you. And it is His great pleasure to do so.

All that from a day off… Hmmmmmmm

So may you rest in God’s grace. And may you own the promises of God about who you are and how you are supposed to function in this world. And may you find the freedom of trusting in a God who has got your back from before time began.

QUESTIONS TO TALK ABOUT: 1. What is the difference between rest and laziness? 2. What does God say about you? 3. How easy is that for you to accept? 4. What obstacles get in the way of your accepting these truths of God?

A Question for the next post: When you read Genesis 2, what is not written that you assume about the story?

One Person at a Time!

Aaron Couch Lead Coach Real Life on the Palouse