Work Hard and Rest Well (Leviticus 23:3) - Radical

Work Hard and Rest Well (Leviticus 23:3)

“Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is the Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.”
-Leviticus 23:3

This is an obvious repetition of a command we see in the ten commandments in Exodus 20. You shall remember, honor the Sabbath, keep it holy. All of this grounded all the way back in the book of Genesis, when after six days of work in creation, on the seventh day God rested. Now there is a lot of discussion and even debate among Bible-believing scholars, pastors, preachers, students who wonder about how this plays out in the New Testament, and the lack of specific command like this in the New Testament.

The Bible teaches that work and rest are both good and necessary. May God be honored by our work and rest.

My aim is not to get into that discussion and debate, but it is to point out something that I think is obvious here in the very beginning of the Bible and all throughout Scripture. That work, number one, is good. God worked in creation. God is working in a sense all the time. Right now, God is working for every one of us. He is sustaining our breath, our lungs. Our hearts are beating. My mouth is speaking because God is enabling all of these things. God is sustaining the entire universe, right now. God is working, so work is a good thing.

Leviticus 23:3 Reminds Us to Rest

Even here in Leviticus 23:3, we shouldn’t gloss over it. Six days work shall be done. God has designed us to work. It’s good for us to work hard today to his glory. At the same time, it’s also wise in the providence of God to rest. To have set aside time to rest. I know that if I’m not careful in my own life, I can work and work and work and get so focused on all the things that need to be done, that I can fail to rest. This is really a picture of pride in my own life when I think about it, because rest is an act of humility that says okay I need to stop. I can’t do it all. I’m not supposed to do it all.

There is a right time to rest and to step aside from work and to experience rest according to God’s design. I just want to encourage you, even as I am encouraged reading Leviticus 23:3 today, that work is good and rest is good. Work, even in a disproportionate way, like six days work shall be done. It’s not rest shall be done for six days and then work for a day. No. There’s a place for hard work. All week long in a sense.

Practice Observing the Sabbath

But there is also a place for good, wise rest. Rhythms of rest in our lives. In my life I try to practically honor a Sabbath principle in the very least in my life by having a 24-hour period where there is rest. Total absence from regular work. Putting aside work and resting for that time. I’m not saying I’m perfect in that, or that every week that plays out the way I want it to, but that is certainly an aim in my own life in addition to other rhythms of rest that I want to build in so that I am not just working non-stop around the clock during the week and other times as well.

A Prayer Based on Leviticus 23:3

The point is, I just want to encourage you to see work as good and right and to do it hard for the glory of God, and to see rest as good and right and to do that well for the glory of God. God help us to be a people who work hard and rest well. I pray for this in my own life. I pray for this in the co-laborers around me that I have the opportunity to work alongside. Help us to cultivate that in one another. God I pray for that for each person who is listening to us right now.

God I pray that you would help them to work hard for your glory. To work in a way that honors your work in them, and that shows the beauty and the goodness of work before you in all kinds of different domains. At the same time, O God, we pray for the humility to rest. We pray that you would help us to build healthy rhythms of rest into our life in ways that honor you. In ways that glorify your name. God be honored we pray, in our working and in our resting. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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