Rest or Stress 4th commandment
Stress. Your work bows you down. Husband and wife both work. With good management, is there anything wrong with it?
But then both are busy. They only see each other for a moment at mealtime. After that each goes their own way.
A free day. You look forward to it. Shall we go out together? But before you know it, the day is again filled with things that need to be done.
And then it is Sunday. You are exhausted, but you already begin to plan for the coming week. Everything you can think of before hand is a plus.
God gives us a day off. A day of rest. A benefit that you should not allow to be snatched away from you. Still more. God gives rest for all the days of the week! That is what the fourth commandment is about.
A separate rest day?
Is the Sunday still a separate rest day? Is the Sunday a continuation or fulfillment of the Old testament Sabbath? Or are all the days of the week more or less the same?
If you go out from the fact that the Sabbath was instituted in paradise, then you come up against a creational given that holds for always. In Genesis 2 we, however, read that God rested on the seventh day, but not a word that this is a command for people as well.1Only in the ten commandments do we have a clear command to observe the Sabbath. The reason for this is that God after the Creation rested on the seventh day. That is why He now also gives His people a day of rest. A benefit after the slavery in Egypt! 2
Working all the times leads to slavery. That's why a free day – a day of complete rest in which all work must be put aside – is obligatory.3Is it not boring to do nothing? It was a feast, a day of liberation, a day of remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt! Who works when there is a feast? The people celebrated it with a holy, festive assembly!4
The obligatory old Testament Sabbath has passed away. Paul calls the Sabbath a shadow that has been fulfilled in Christ.5The Sabbath is indeed not a perpetual creational given.
Jesus and the apostles, however, opened up another day off for us, in a different way than was the case with the Sabbath. The great day of liberation now is the Sunday, a day of remembrance of Jesus' resurrection. Pentecost, the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, also falls on a Sunday.6Peter preaches a penetrating and liberating sermon, which leads to the repentance of thousands of people.
A day off for God and not for obligatory inactivity. That was neither the case in the Old testament, and certainly not now. But a day to have ample time for the assemblies of the congregation to remember God's deeds of salvation. In the Old testament they had to. But today we may. If you see its festive character, for God and for yourself, and if you are aware how much we need it for our life and work on all days, you do it!9
Rest for all days
The Sabbath affected the other days. A day of obligatory rest. Thus, no stress, not on the other days either. For God will take care of things. An assembly on the day of rest, with God's Word in the centre, to live from the whole week. For that reason God has blessed and sanctified the Sabbath day. A day that is charged with beneficial power, for each day.
The rest day was not a day apart. God wanted to return the rest of paradise to all the other days of the week. Egypt with its slavery may not happen again, not even for one day. The more the other days are dominated by the weekly day of rest, the better it would be. It then was a partial fulfillment of the Sabbath, already in the Old Testament itself!
And much more so in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is with us each day, to sanctify and bless us for God. The Old Testament Sabbath is today fulfilled in the work of the Holy Spirit who was given to us by Christ.10
Presently there will be the eternal Sabbath, the Sabbath rest of the new earth.11Then all days for sure are the same. Satan and sin are eliminated. The peace of paradise is restored and perfected. God's Word of the beginning, at the completion of His work of creation is now definitively operative: Everything is very good,12well functioning in eternal peace.
With this eternal Sabbath, according to Lord's Day 38, I may make a start today. How and when? If "all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, (and) let the Lord work in me through His Holy Spirit."
Rest does not mean idleness. Adam did not laze about in paradise. Presently on the new earth that will not be the case either. Rest is to be busy in a good way in tandem with God. As Adam did and we presently will do perfectly. Today we may again make a start with this. As much and as often as we in our life and work think about God, there is peace and rest on whatever day, the beginning of the eternal rest.
Enjoy your rest
What do I now have in my hurried life? On Sundays I am free, but even then I still do not have peace? Indeed, apart from Christ you don't. Rest comes as soon as you realize that not you yourself but Jesus makes your life. Without Him you continue to run around, and are worn out and stressed, without a pause in sight, let alone an end.
With Jesus I know: He called out on the cross: It is finished! This completion of my work lies ready to hand in to Him. Or better: in the continuation of His work I may be a little link in the process. And the completion of it is in sight: His Kingdom, the new earth.
Does this work as a remedy, a tranquilizer? For you much needed rest? The Bible is not medicine. It does not take the place of pills and planning. But the thought, the belief, that Jesus is my Saviour, does indeed give me a rest that goes deeper and further than any other means. To be aware of this and feel it, I go to church, as often as there is a church service, and read my Bible. So the Holy Spirit works. And so I know where I am at: there is one Saviour, Jesus Christ.13I do my work in his service, then it will turn out all right. Too bad that I do not get everything done. Wonderful that Jesus succeeds. Those who believe in Him, have eternal life.
The apostles decided that on the day after the Sabbath there would be the assembly, the reading of the holy books and the offering of the Eucharist, because on that day Christ rose from the dead, and it will be again on that day that He will appear to us at the end, accompanied by His angels. (Addai, late-fourth century)