Since we’ve now entered the Season of Rest, it seemed all too appropriate to start off with this Hebrew word for rest: נוח (nwh). I know you’re thinking, That’s not a word. It’s three consonants crammed together. Well, that’s what it looks like, but the way it’s pronounced is noahcchhhhh. Like if you said “Noah” and then let the “ah” sound like “achhhh”. Click on this link to hear an actual pronunciation of the word. What it means is “to settle down”.
In ancient times, God directed to Moses some awesome rules of rest that Israel was to follow. The laws God gave were a reflection of His character and His holiness. Exodus 20:8-11 and 23:12 give specifics on one area of rest the Israelites were to take and it’s where we find our word נוח.
It was on Mount Sinai that the Lord delivered the laws to Moses and in the fourth law God gave an explanation to the command. He said,
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
God told Moses to remember the Sabbath day. Keep it holy (set apart). It’s a day that is different from the six others in the week. God said on the seventh day after He had created everything, He settled down. I know we think we work hard in a week… but have you ever created everything in six days? Wow.
In my mind, creating everything in six days is a lot of work and I’d definitely need maybe more than one day to rest up, but I don’t think God rested because He was tired. I think He was being loving and thoughtful as always and set a pattern for His entire creation. Humans and animals were all designated a day to settle down and rest. We look to our Creator to see how He did it and we see that He prioritized rest.
The term “settle down” creates a great image. An example that comes to me is getting in my car after work. It’s been a crazy day and I’ve had a million things flying at me from everywhere. The moment I clock out and step into my car, all those things get locked out. They stay in work world and I’m now in my car world. It’s silent, it’s warm, and it feels comfortable. I can sit back and relax. The next thing that happens is I’m able to think! Thoughts pop into my head and I start reflecting on how I feel and what happened throughout the day. I can process.
Settling down allows you to process your life and it’s so necessary. Not only can you think through your feelings and daily activities, but you can also stop and appreciate the blessings God has granted you. God settled down on the seventh day and I wonder if God just looked around at His work and appreciated it all day. I think it all put a smile on His face. Do you take time to appreciate your work? It’s easy to get drawn into the madness of life and never have a moment to take a breath.
The LORD made the Sabbath holy. It didn’t matter if you were the master of the house or the ox pulling the cart – you had to settle down for one day out of the week. The Sabbath rest was not an option. Is it that way today? No. When Jesus brought us into the covenant of grace, He fulfilled the law and therefore freed us from its condemnation. There’s no one on earth, besides the Son of God, who could keep even one law for life. I mean, think about how lovely a Sabbath day sounds, and then think about how often you take time to just rest. Does anyone have time to rest these days??
Just because the laws have changed, does not change the fact that God created and God prioritized rest. He still did that and we’ll find some New Testament rest happening later this season. It’s good to rest and God has given us time that our body naturally slips into more relaxation. Enjoy this season with God and may the resting begin!
Exercise for this week: I think a big reason many of us don’t rest is because we lack preparation. Look at your schedule and select some time to be set apart for rest. It could be a time you set every day, or an actual full day that looks different from your work days, or it could be a few hours somewhere within your week that you can take some time. Whenever it is and for however long, allow yourself to truly put aside distractions and responsibilities. Just for a bit!
Questions for personal reflection or group discussion:
- Read Exodus 20:8-11 together and share thoughts. Any questions about the scripture or observations made?
- God said that on the Sabbath day the Israelites were not to work. What different facets of work are in your life?
- How does looking at God as one who rests enhance your perception of Him?
- What image comes to mind when you hear the phrase “settle down”? Do you have a good or bad connotation with this phrase? Why?
- What are some ways you can prioritize rest this week?