Troublesome Topic: Rest Is Connecting

Make Connecting Your Goal So Rest Can Produce the Paradigm Shift You Need

Sabbath is God’s gift to us so we can connect with God and family. However, if you look up the word “Sabbath” in a Bible dictionary you will not find “connection” as one of its meanings. But I suggest to you that connecting is the purpose of rest. How do I come to this conclusion? Connection is the one thread that brings together all the varied uses of the word “rest,” and it is the one purpose that stands behind each of God’s commands regarding Sabbath. Apart from the concepts of closeness and connection the Bible’s regulations about Sabbath seem disjointed, complicated and confusing. Connection is what brings them all together, and makes the picture complete.

The Hebrew word “Sabbath” can mean “to pause, to cease from activity, to put an end to, to desist, to still or calm, to repose.” It can also mean “to sever, put away, leave, rid, take away or put down”, or even “to cause to fail.” But that is not all; it can also mean “to celebrate.”

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In our analytical way of thinking, we look at that and see a contradiction, for celebrating usually involves some activity; it is anything but pausing. Furthermore, in our minds, to “sever” or “put away” are not usually associated with “celebrating.” However, if you consider the basic purpose of rest as being to connect with someone, then all the possible uses of the word make sense; we sometimes connect through being still and sometimes through celebrating, and in order to connect with someone we must eliminate those things that clutter our lives. As we proceed through this study we will see how the concept of connection is the over-arching purpose of rest.

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Oswald Chambers seemed to see this same connection, for he wrote, “Sanctification . . . should work out into rest in God which means oneness with God.

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The Actions and Habits of Jesus Reveal an Emphasis on Connection

John chapter 5 reveals what Jesus thought about closeness with His Father:

John 5:19


Of himself the Son is able to do nothing except if he sees the Father doing that thing, for whatever things He does, these things the Son also does likewise.


In my own strength and of my own volition I, the Son of God, can do nothing; I am limited to doing what I see my Father already doing; whatever things He is doing, I do the same things.

John 5:20


For the Father loves

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the Son, and shows him all things that he is doing; and He will show him greater works than these so that you may marvel.


For my Father loves me, His Son, and He lets me in on everything He is involved in including the whats and whys and hows; but that’s not all, He will do greater things than what He has been doing up till now, and He will bring me in on those too; He will do this so that you can be amazed at how God works.

In order for the Father to show the Son what He was doing, the Son had to stay close to the Father, and that is exactly what we see Jesus doing. We likewise must stay in close connection to our heavenly Father.

Jesus prayed for us in this way:

John 17:21


that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


that all of these may be united in one purpose and in full agreement, in the same way that you, Father, are functioning through me and represented in me because we are completely united, and I am in full agreement with you because we are perfectly united in our cause. Our purpose is for our perfect unity to cause them to become fully united with us in our cause, then the world will be challenged to believe that I came as your emissary to show them what you are like.

God’s great purpose for us is closeness, connection, and an intimate relationship with Him. Connection is the purpose of rest, and rest, with its various facets, is the vehicle to take us close.

God Connected with His Creation on Day Seven

I used to think that, on day seven of creation week, God stayed in heaven and did nothing. I was totally wrong! He chose to do something very important, yet something different than what He had done the other six days. He paused to connect with His creation and enjoy what He had created. He stopped creating in order to celebrate. I used to read that “Then ELOHIM looked at all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31) and I would imagine the words “very good” being spoken with a solemn tone. Now I think we should put that into modern English like this: God took a good look at everything He had made and said, ‘YES! I LOVE IT! It’s just the way I wanted it!’ (complete with pumped fists). In other words, when we read that “it was very good,” we should understand that God celebrated what He had made! He took a whole day to celebrate, to enjoy what He had made and to connect with it. He had rejoiced at the end of each day throughout creation week, but now He set aside a full day just to connect, to celebrate, to enjoy. In this context doesn’t the idea of celebration as one of the meanings of “rest” make total sense?

Naming the animals was seen as work, it was serious, it was done as carefully and accurately as Adam could do it. What happened on the seventh day was totally different; its only purpose was to connect; it was not work; it was pure joy.

 We could say that God rested from His work, and He rested with His work.

When you think of it in this light, don’t the words “very good” take on a richer meaning?  Doesn’t the idea of connecting make the issue of rest more meaningful and the need for rest more obvious? God connected with His creation because He loved His creation and He wanted to set aside special time to enjoy it. That sure does a lot more for me than the idea I held for many years that God worked six days and then the seventh day He didn’t do anything at all.

Creation Shows the Importance of Rest

Notice that the last thing God created was rest. We could say that rest was the true climax of His creative activity. Also, of all that God did during creation week, the day of rest was the only thing that He sanctified immediately. Have you ever noticed that, in the Ten Commandments, the fourth commandment, the one concerning the Sabbath, is the one that receives the most extensive treatment? Why do we give it the least amount of emphasis today?

The very structure of the creation account highlights Sabbath rest as the high point of creation.  The number seven means completeness, therefore the seventh day completes all of creation. The entire creative process moves, not toward the creation of man, but toward the establishment of rest. Sabbath was the climax of creation week!

In my work on Genesis chapter 2, I translate verse 2: On the seventh day ELOHIM finished His work which He had made, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had made. The KJV, the ASV, the RSV the ESV, and many Jewish Rabbis translate the first part of Gen 2:2 similarly, rendering it “On the seventh day,” not “by the seventh day” as some other translations have it. The Hebrew preposition used here is the preposition that usually means “in.” Thus by the end of day six He was not quite done. The Rabbis have long argued the question, “What did God create on the seventh day if He ‘finished his work on the seventh day?’” At the beginning, according to Genesis 1:2, order was lacking; but after six days of creation there was order, there was life, and there was activity. So what was still lacking by day seven? The answer is Rest! Rabbi Abraham Heschel put it this way: “Came the Sabbath, came rest, and the universe was complete.”

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Rest was what God was working toward all week.

In later times another Hebrew word for rest “became a synonym for the life in the world to come, for eternal life.”

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The next lesson is A Paradigm Shift Is Needed



Harris, Archer and Walke, in the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.


You will notice that I am using the words “rest” and “Sabbath” interchangeably. One could parse and dissect these two words to find the differences between them; I choose to focus on how they point us in the same direction. Yes, there is a day set aside for connecting with God, but we should also set aside other times for connecting with God.


Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, in the devotional thought for Aug 12th.


This word for “love” is a form of a Greek word which emphasizes the love involved in a close relationship, but is not the same as the sacrificial love of “agape.”


Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, p. 22.


Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath, p. 23.