The idea of rest is an integral part of the story of Scripture beginning with God resting on the seventh day. This rest by God is the basis for the weekly Sabbath day rest, which is the basis for the special Sabbath rests related to God’s Appointed Times (Feasts/Holy Days). These are then expanded for an entire year with the Sabbath Year – every seventh year. This provides rest for the land as well as mankind and animals – thus all of creation rests in the Lord. The 50th year – after 7 cycles of 7 years – on the heels of the Sabbath Year is the Jubilee Year. On the Jubilee Year there is not only a rest from sowing and reaping or another year but there is also a reset of sorts wherein people who had sold themselves into slavery/servant hood were released and returned to the land given their clan/household by God.
The frequency with which the Sabbath is discussed and practiced in Scripture (in both the First (Old) and Second (New) Testaments) should cause us to pause and consider the implications in our fast paced lives. A primary aspect of the Sabbaths was to demonstrate trust in God, the Creator. Rather than working ourselves to the bone we are to work hard and then rest “in Him”. This was also a test for those under the First Testament (Covenant) to see whether or not they would trust God for provision. After all, with no sowing and reaping for the 49th year (Sabbath Year) and the 50th year (Jubilee) year, God really had to provide for them in the 48th year and it had to last until they began to harvest in the 51st year! But God promised He would!
I wonder if we trust God enough to take a break for a day. I love how Chick-Fil-A makes such a bold statement in having their stores closed one day a week. Even though it’s not on the Sabbath Day (that’s always been the seventh day, which is Saturday), it makes for a bold statement in a world that operates 24/7. All those empty building with their empty parking lots every Sunday – no chicken here! That’s a little bit of what God was trying to accomplish as well. As the world around the Israelite’s continued to hustle and bustle there was a strange quietness about the Israelite domiciles – they were a light to the world as they proclaimed something different, unique, separate, even holy – God Himself.