Why Did God Rest?

By Mark D. Roberts

May 20, 2015

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.”

Genesis 2:1-3


Recently, my wife and I moved from Texas to California. Our final day in Texas was a crazy one as we scrambled to sell some of our possessions, give away many more, and take a bunch of junk to the dump. Then, after the movers finished emptying our house, we spent hours cleaning, getting everything ready for the new owners so they might move into a tidy, welcoming home. We didn’t leave until 10:45 p.m., having worked steadily from 7:00 a.m. By the time we finally arrived at our motel early the next morning, we were exhausted and more than ready to rest.

For human beings, rest comes after work because our bodies, minds, and hearts need refreshment. If we keep on working and working and working without rest, eventually our bodies will break or simply drop dead. Rest is essential to renew our strength for more work.

With God, rest serves a different function. Scripture reveals God to be all-powerful. Nothing suggests that God needs rest in order to restore his energy. God did not choose to rest on the seventh day due to being worn out from the first six.

So, then, why did God rest? Genesis 2:1-3 does not answer this question explicitly. It does supply a few clues, however. Somehow, rest seems to be an essential part of God’s creative activity (2:2). Moreover, God’s resting is associated with the act of blessing and hallowing the seventh day (2:3). God did not only tell us to rest from our work (Exod 20:8-11). Before this, God modeled rest for us. By treating the seventh day in a special way, God demonstrated that this day was set apart from the other days, establishing it as a day of rest rather than labor.

Thus, though there might be other reasons why God rested, one reason is clear from Genesis 2. God rested to underscore the uniqueness of the seventh day. God rested to teach us. God rested for our benefit, modeling behavior that would be commended to us later in Scripture (see Exod 20:8-11). God rested so that we might understand the importance of rest in our own lives. God rested so that we might follow the Lord’s example.


When you think of God as resting, what images or thoughts come to mind? Why do you think God rested? In your own life, do you follow God’s example of rest? Why or why not?


Gracious God, as we reflect on the reason for your resting on the seventh day, give us wisdom. Help us to understand your purposes and practices. Teach us the value of rest, so that we might experience the fullness of life as you have intended it. Amen.

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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