Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements. –Leviticus 23:3
Dear members & friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
“Rest” as a verb means, “to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” And as a noun it means, “an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.” The wisdom of the Bible is that rest is not optional, but mandated by God. Even God rested when creation was finished! And in Leviticus, a divine law was given to the people of Israel that there should be a day of complete rest after six days of work. In my understanding, the necessity of having a sabbath, which means rest, is not just for religious observance, but more for the sake of spiritual, mental, and physical health of humans. Therefore, when God commanded that we rest, it was less for God to be revered and remembered, but more for humans to restore and regenerate their spiritual, mental, and physical strength by means of proper resting.
A human body is a complex bio-organism that can adapt to many challenging habitats and conditions. However, lack of rest is something that the human body cannot handle or overcome, simply because the cause of the problem is not external, but internal. A lack of rest could cause serious effects to your body and mind. For instance, it’s well-documented that a lack of sleep impairs our attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. In other words, lack of sleep impairs your brain functionality at first, but then influences all other parts of your mental and physical well-being. Yet, sleeping is just one part of resting!
For most modern people, perhaps a more important kind of rest is that of the mind rather than the body due to the fact that nowadays, most of our work demands high mental engagement and activity with minimal physical labor. Therefore, even if you are sitting at a sunny beach with your family or friends, if your mind is still occupied by your work, you are not resting! The wisdom of the Bible insists that we take a sabbath of complete rest, but how? Another truth from the Bible is to know when and how to say, “it is finished for now!” When our mind acknowledges and accepts that our work is done, usually we can detach from a matter, task, or project and be free from it. Only after that will your mind and body be ready for a complete rest.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee