Discussion Questions About God’s Rest
Discussion questions this week come from Sunday’s sermon, “God Took a Seat.”
Quick reminder: these questions are designed to spark discussion. They’re not a sermon quiz. So if you missed the sermon, that’s okay. I’ll try to provide enough content to bring everyone up to speed.
The truth of God’s rest tells us that he is the sovereign starter and stopper. He decided to start creating in Genesis 1:1, and he decided to stop creating in Genesis 2:2. And he did both because of his sovereign prerogative — which is a big deal. It means that everything that exists, including you and me, is completely dependent upon God’s own will. We’re here because God wanted us to be.
Have you ever considered the bigness of God in this way? What was it like when this truth began to take root in your heart? How do you think the truth of God’s sovereignty should impact our daily lives?
[The truth of God’s sovereignty also can raise lots of questions. Expect, and give space, for some of those questions to come up, but connect the discussion of God’s sovereignty back to the comfort it brings. That’s the most consistent impact in Scripture (for example, see Romans 8:31; Isaiah 44:6–8).]
The Bible tells us that God is very much involved in his creation. He is completely separated from creation in his holiness and majesty, and yet he is also near to us. The theological words for this are transcendence and immanence. Isaiah 57:15 sums it up well:
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. …”
But here’s the thing: sometimes it doesn’t feel like God is very near. Sometimes, as we see in the Psalms, God can feel very distant. Have you ever been in a time of your life when you felt like God was far away? Maybe that’s now. What is most difficult about that feeling? How were you helped during that time, or what ways might the body of Christ help you?
God’s rest means he is self-sufficient. He doesn’t need anyone, which is quite different from the gods of the other nations. Back in the ancient world, the glory of the gods depended upon the glory of the nations that worshiped them. The gods of Egypt, for example, replied upon the productivity and success of Egypt to make them look good. That created a culture of relentless work, and it was out of this culture that God rescued Israel in the exodus. And that when he gave them the Sabbath command to remember his rest on the seventh day of creation (Exodus 20:8). He wanted them to stop their work and to remember that he is an utterly sovereign, self-sufficient God. He created the heavens and earth and everything because he wanted to! God does not need anyone.
What kind of impact do you think this should have had on Israel? What are the implications of God’s self-sufficiency? How should they affect everyday life?
So ancient Israel isn’t the only nation in history known for its oppressive workaholic culture. America today, in many ways, is a country driven by productivity and success. We can especially feel this in cities like ours because of its leadership role in influential industries. I read an essay that called this “compulsive mobility.” The phrase stuck with me because it makes so much sense. As a society, we always have to be going somewhere and doing something — and nearly every technological advancement at the popular level is meant to help us go and do more.
What do you think about this? What are trends that you have seen in our society that are similar to this? What is this like for you in your job? What are some positives aspects here, and what are some negative?
Busy and productive and high-energy as the culture might be, God has commanded us to rest. He has called us to stop our work and remember who he is — remember that he is a God who does not need us. There’s certainly work to be done, but it is work from the foundation of rest. I tried to capture it this way in the sermon:
The vision here is that we live in a world where the bigness and nearness and centrality of God is so thick in the air that when we breathe that air in we know we are breathing in the air of a God who does not need us in order for him to be who he is. And because he does not need us in order for him to be who he is, we are freed to enjoy him and the things he has made. That is the rest of God.
What does it mean to you that God does not need you? What does it mean that your work is from the foundation of his rest? How do you think this should impact your on-the-ground moments throughout the week?