What did God do on the seventh day? I mean of course before creating the Packers, beer, and rock n’ roll. Was He tired from the previous six days? Was the universe just a little too crowded after creation, making Him need some “me-time”? What does an eternal Creator-God, who is unrestrained by time, do on His day off? Did He alternate napping with watching Grey’s Anatomy while sipping coffee on a recliner?
To me, YHWH’s day of rest in the creation story is a cosmic lesson about how we as humans, made in His image, need to take time to rest. In the times that the Hebrew Bible was written God commanded that the people of Israel “keep the Sabbath day holy”. Saturdays, the seventh day of the Hebrew week, were set apart specifically for rest. It must have been one really simple way of imitating God at that time (Hey, I have the same day off as YHWH!). But, over time we, as humans, put way too many rules on how to “rest” on our Sabbath. As a Jew during the time of Jesus, observing the rules of the Sabbath had to have been exhausting; you could only walk so many steps, you couldn’t cook, couldn’t carry things over a certain weight, etc. Rest must have seemed oppressive, like work.
Why does God command us to rest, even to the point of modeling it Himself? Think about it: if anyone really does have the weight of the world on His shoulders AND the ability to change things that are wrong with the world it is God. Sometimes, I wish He had used the 7th day to make the human genome a little more robust or figuring out a way to make the world work without mosquitoes and cockroaches. He didn’t though. He was intentional about resting---and it was good too.
I’m at a point in my academic year where I actually get to rest, legitimate days off without obligations to do anything but get out of bed (I really don’t even need to shower or brush my teeth). Is that what God wanted? I don’t think so; but at the same time I don’t want to feel obligated to do certain things to make my day off restful. What’s the point of rest for me? Recharging my batteries, regaining mental function, having coffee with friends, finding time to enjoy myself, etc. Is that just as “holy” or worthwhile as spending a day fasting, in prayer, listening to sermons, and reading the scriptures?
I don’t know really. What I do know is that God is constantly calling us to something better, better than day-to-day survival and better than rule-following religiosity. The specifics of what that looks like for me may be very different than most everyone else (who else would spend a day off looking at pictures of gross anatomy for enjoyment?). God wants us to have one day each week set apart rest, take stock in what matters, and spend it doing something we enjoy. Why is that so hard for us to do?