Sermon by The Rev. Junchol Lee, April 7, 2019
Scripture readings: Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 16:22-30
Sabbath is quite well known in the practices and teachings of Judaism and Christianity. According to the Bible, the strict observance of Sabbath was ordered by Moses in Exodus. And, even the mana from heaven was ceased on the day of Sabbath. The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabath, meaning to cease or rest. The word Shabath appears first in Genesis 2, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.” There are many articles and messages emphasizing the importance of rest for human life as the God-given message from Genesis, and I fully agree. However, what Genesis actually says is that all the work of creation was complete by the sixth day after creating humans, so on the seventh day there was no more work to do, thus God rested. The difference is that “resting” itself is not the focus of the Bible, but instead resting after the six days of hard work.
Physically and mentally, it certainly is important to rest at least one day of the week. However, the message in Genesis is not fully about the importance of taking such rest. God rested on the seventh day, not just because it was after six days of work, but because God had finished the process of creation. When applied to our spiritual cultivation, the stage of “resting” comes only after we have completed the process that we have been working on. This could be one explanation for why we tend to feel our lives are more full of challenges and struggles than rest and comfort at any given time. Despite the fact that our reality often feels troublesome and life-draining, if we are to endure and see it through, we are promised to reach a state of rest. And in reality, this is the gift from and by God.