Pondering Three Words

Ponder: Today we’re going to look at three Hebrew words found in this week’s Old Testament readings — kalah, shabath, and qadash — and ask ourselves a few questions. The word kalah means to be complete, at an end, finished, accomplished, or spent. While God could have continued His incredible creative process, He chose to shabath, to cease all work, to desist from His creative process, to rest. The Greek word for rest in Matthew 11:28 is anapauó, meaning to give intermission from or to refresh. God then set apart or consecrated — qadash — this day of rest not because He was weary but because He knew sin would enter the world and we would become weary in our toil. He wanted to give us — He needed to give us — the example to rest.

  • What did I learn about God from this week’s passages? How is His love evident in these verses?
  • When do I struggle to kalah, to call my work complete?
  • Why is it hard for me to shabath, to cease all my work and rest?
  • When have I experienced God making me lie down to rest (Psalm 23)? What did that experience (or extended season of forced rest) teach me about God’s plan for my refreshment to do His good work?
  • As I embark on this study of sabbath, how will I ask God to direct how I qadash, or set apart, time each week to embrace the gift of His rest? 

Pray: Heavenly Father, You set an example for me to follow in work and in rest, and while it is hard for me to set aside my work and cease from toil, Your Word is clear. Rest is a gift from You, designed to bring refreshment, and sometimes You have had to force me to lie down, to set down what I’m doing to experience the blessing of green pastures. Forgive me for the times I have clung to the work of my hands, thinking that if I did just a bit more I’d be done. The truth is our toil will never be complete as long as we live on this sin-scarred planet, and yet You give us permission, You command us, to pause. Thank You. Show me how to set apart time each week to embrace Your gift.