HomeEditorial CommentRest and the seventh day

Rest and the seventh day

No human being on this planet can work continuously without a break, or remain awake all the time. Even if anyone would want to, it is practically impossible to do that.

By PROSPER TINGINI

The mechanisms in the body would break down and perish. All our systems are built to work and rest alternately, one after the other. Machines can be programmed to work continuously without a break, but not humans. We tire, become weary and weak, thus making us lose our strength and mental faculties. We operate on three platforms, ie, the physical, mental and the spiritual platform.

The physical platform allows us to perform tasks, to execute a given plan of action. It gives us the energy to move, or the inertia to start a motion. The mental platform is the engine that drives the thinking. It is the central processing unit that generates programs for action. The spiritual platform gives us the moral directions to follow.

It gives us the do(s) and don’t(s), the right(s) and wrong(s); the good and the bad. It is the cooling or heating system that touches on our souls. In humans, all of these need to be rested. In fact, we were designed to sleep (rest) after each daily shift. It was an act of God. It was His creation of rest.
God the Almighty rested after He created the Heavens and the Earth and all life and things upon them. It was an act of energy renewal. It was a break to restore any lost energy, to rejuvenate the physical, mental and spiritual faculties. The Lord our God thus initiated the need to rest and decided to extend this need to mankind.
While our God does not necessarily need to rest at any point of time, He knew of the need for us humans to rest. He programmed us to work and sleep (rest) on a daily basis. He additionally commanded mankind to rest on every seventh day, as a necessary renewal of energy, also in honour of His works of creation and in His example.

Genesis 2: 1-3 says: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all host of them. And on the seventh day God finished His works which He had done, and rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his works which he had done in creation.” God named the days by their numbers, not by their now human-given names. These current squabbles on whether the Sabbath should be on the Saturday or Sunday should stop forthwith. What is important is the seventh day as per any calendar week as used in any given society, according to its own weekly calendar. That should be the measurement of the seventh day.

The word Sabbath was derived from the Hebrew language to denote the seventh day. The name of the day Saturday was instituted by the Romans in honour of their pagan god of the planet Saturn. Emperor Constantine wanted it to coincide with the Jewish Sabbath day. Sunday was again a name derived from the Roman worship of the sun god, hence some of the people preferred it to be both their day of worship as well as the day of rest, ie, the seventh day. Whatever the arguments, the most important thing is to make the seventh day in any given society’s weekly calendar a day of rest. Most important is that the day of rest should not be confused with the day of worship. These are two totally different days. Worship to the Lord our God should actually be done on a daily basis. Each individual should strive to worship the Lord at every turn of the day. The weekly day earmarked for congregating to worship together should again not be confused to mean the Sabbath day, although the two entities can be combined and acted upon on the same day, but with different meanings.

Worship has no rest, yet work has rest. Worship and work have no connection. They are two co-existing things yet very separate from each other. The Sabbath day was meant to rest people from work, not worship. The Sabbath can, however, still be used as both a day of worship, and as a day of rest. To emphasise that point, at Mt Sinai, the Lord spoke directly to the gathered Jewish congregation of Israel: “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy, six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God, in it you shall not do any work, you and your son, or your daughter, your manservant or your maidservant, or your cattle or the sojourner who is within your gates. For six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy” (Exodus 20: 8-11).

Even before the advent of Christianity, most of the indigenous populations in parts of Africa, including Zimbabwe, had a traditional day earmarked for rest. To date, most of our traditional leaders are still enforcing this rest day on their communities, as a custom. In the Shona community in Zimbabwe, this day is named “chisi” and on it no one is allowed to work in the fields. Most of us the native folks are now practicing Christians, as we go for worship on either Saturday or Sunday depending on the denomination we follow. This would in effect traditionally make the “chisi” the Sabbath, as it is normally observed on a different day from that of worship. Unfortunately for us the poor folks, we are also forced to observe the Saturday or Sunday as both the day of rest and worship, thus limiting our traditional working days to five days a week instead of six, as the Lord commanded.

The traditional practice was work-related which properly aligned with the day of rest. A wrong interpretation of the scriptures has now superseded the right practice.
The Lord our God, in an effort to reiterate that the Sabbath was work-related and not necessarily worship-related, again tried to hammer home that point in different directions. In Exodus 23:21, He spoke: “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your ass may have rest, and the son of your bond maid, and the alien, may be refreshed.” This is where the renewal of energy is mentioned by the Lord our God.

The Sabbath was God’s creation of the weeks, naming it according to the numbers of days, not by the names of the days of the weeks. Resting is a necessity of human life. It is part and parcel of our mechanism which is normally enforced daily by sleep. The seventh day is a holy day enforced on mankind by the Lord our God to enable us to recover and rebuild our energies, and to recognise and to honour Him, in His example, for His works of creation.

l Prosper Tingini is the assembly president of the newly-established and registered Children of God Missionary Assembly. As an interdenominational body, we invite all who wish to undertake Bible Studies with a view to be certified as ministers of religion to contact us on 0771 260 195 either by voice, SMS or WhatsApp. Email address: ptingini@gmail.com

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