After six days of creation, God “finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2) God certainly wasn’t tired. He didn’t need a break. He doesn’t nap or sleep! (See Psalm 121:4). So why rest?
If he didn’t need the rest, who does? You know the answer. Unlike God, you and I need rest. This isn’t a merely biological phenomenon. The God of the Universe could have designed us in any way he saw fit, yet he chose to make us spend 25%-33% of our lives asleep. Why?
I can’t speak for God. There’s not a verse that spells it out, but I have a theory. I think God has us sleep for two reasons: sleep causes us to recognize our limits and sleep brings us pleasure.
Did you know that a driver who has been awake for a full 24 hours responds as poorly as someone whose blood alcohol is .10? One study said that teens in school who scored C’s slept thirty minutes less per night than those who made A’s. We simply can’t function without sleep. God built into the human biology a reminder that we are not omniscient and omnipotent creatures without limits. Like it or not, we have to stop eventually! Sleep is the gentle tyrant. It can be delayed, but not defeated.
God also gives us rest as a gift. You can’t beat a good night’s sleep! The clichés are true: a good conscience is the best pillow. Peace makes for good rest. Trusting in God and living right before him are the best sleeping pills on the market. Psalms 127:2 says that God gives sleep to those he loves. He watches over us.
Let’s make sure that we honor the idea that God built into us. We need sleep nightly. We need Sabbath weekly. We need holidays periodically. We need Sabbatical occasionally. God made us that way!