Worship Is: Resting From Our Labors

This is the first in a series of “Worship is….” posts tracing worship through the Scriptures. So much has been written and spoken in recent days about worship. Sometimes I get the feeling some of what is being said is not necessarily Scriptural but can’t place my finger on it. So it’s a good thing to continually go back and see what the Scriptures say about anything in life and especially about something as important as worship in the life of the church.

Perhaps the earliest passage concerning worship is the account of God resting on the seventh day of creation.

Genesis 2:2-3 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

This tells us initially that:

1. God rested from his work on that day
2. God blessed and sanctified the day by resting in it

The word translated here “sanctified” means “to make something holy; to set something apart; to distinguish it.” Literally, the phrase means essentially that God made this day different. However, in the context of the Law, it means that the day belongs to God; it is for rest from ordinary labor for physical rest and to give more focused attention to God.

How does this inform our worship? Let’s look at the fourth commandment in Exodus.

Exodus 20:8-11 “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 of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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.

This tells us because God rested, we rest. We observe the same pattern of work and rest that God observed. God worked, we work. God rested, we rest. “Keeping the sabbath holy” means keeping it “set apart,” separate, different, from other days as God established it. The day “belongs to” God and is set apart for him alone. Because six days were “enough” for God to do his work, they should be “enough” for us as well.

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