One thing that is glaringly obvious to anyone who studies history or reads the Bible is that humans haven’t changed just a whole lot.

Sure, cultures change, values shift, technology improves, but humans really haven’t “improved” so to speak. Individually and collectively, we still face the very same challenges for thousands of years.

A little food/money is good. A lot is better.

Some power and authority is fine. But I need more.

If I work enough, I can get what I want. I want more, so I must work more.

He has something that I don’t. That’s a problem.

One of the most fascinating commands that God gave the Israelites, in my opinion, is the Sabbath. They had a mandatory day off every week. They could work six days, but they had to refrain from all work on the Sabbath. Compulsory rest time? Sign me up!

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to God’s commands is that God never commands something that he has not done or is not willing to do. In other words, God commands the people of Israel to rest on the seventh day because he rested on that day.

The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” {Exodus 31:16-17

This passage adds something I never noticed before. It says, “he rested and was refreshed.God was refreshed. I didn’t know God needed refreshing.

Mankind is created in God’s image. His personality is the basis for our very being. If God needed a little R&R after a full work week, don’t you think we do to?

And did you notice that the Sabbath was to be a time of celebration? Creation – Celebration – Rest – Refreshment. This is a command!

Fast forward to the New Testament and what has the Sabbath been turn into by the religious establishment? A burden. A legal mandate loaded with regulations, stipulation, traditions, and loopholes. Hardly restful. Hardly celebratory. And definitely not refreshing. The Sabbath caused more arguments between Jesus and the Pharisees than just about anything else. Jesus wanted to restore the intent of the Sabbath, so the Pharisees decided to kill him because of it.

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” {Mark 2:27-28

Read through Ecclesiastes and it becomes clear that mankind has always been susceptible to workaholism. We work so that we can buy things, then we have to work more to pay off the debt we went into in order to get these things. All the while we’re working so much that we can’t even enjoy the things for which we’ve worked! Sound familiar?

Three thousand years later this is still a familiar reality. Americans, in particular, are overworked and under-rested. Check out the startling research here. Americans put in more work hours than any other developed nation. We have less paid time off, fewer vacation days, and no built-in paternity leave for new parents. And yet the standard of living is no better for the work we do.

Then we come to church on Sundays (if we have the time) and say that the Sabbath doesn’t apply to Christians anymore. Oh, good. Because I just can’t take any of that mandatory rest. I don’t need to be refreshed, and I definitely have no intention of celebrating God’s creation. Don’t burden me with that!

Sure, the Sabbath might not be an expectation for Gentile believers under the new covenant. But look again at Exodus 31. God says the Sabbath would be a sign between him and his people “forever.” Has forever ended yet?

Maybe, just maybe, God knows the heart of man enough to know that we need rest. Surely if God himself needed it, then we do too!

Now stop reading this and get some rest. You look tired.