I love the Sabbath. With all the craziness that is my life, it's a joy and a blessing to have a day set aside to rest, to stop doing homework, to not have to run errands, to be able to go to church and spend peaceful time with friends and with the Lord.
Growing up, I always thought that we rested on the Sabbath day because God created everything in six days and rested on the seventh day. The explanation seemed a little silly to me, because I couldn't imagine an omnipotent God getting tired and needing to rest.
The Hebrew word that the Bible uses for Sabbath rest is "sabat," a derivative of the Hebrew word for Sabbath. Sabat means rest, but not in the sense of "to take a break" or "to take time off." Instead, sabat means "To come to an end, to put an end, to stop, to cause to cease" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). So instead of "God took a vacation after working hard for six days," the Bible more nearly means "God was done creating the world, so He ceased."
Why, then, do we rest on the Sabbath day?
I looked at the story again today. Abinadi gives a reason for our rest on the Sabbath: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Mosiah 13:19, emphasis added). "Wherefore" is an interesting word--it means "for that cause or reason." So the preceding verse could easily be read: "Because the Lord made everything in six days, He blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (that is, set it aside for a holy purpose). That's an odd construction. Why would God's making everything be a reason to consecrate the day after He finished doing it?
Maybe it's because God knew that we would get so busy seeking the riches of this earth that we would forget about its beauty and about Him who created it. Because He had created the earth, He wanted to give us a chance to spend time with Him. When He expelled Adam and Eve from Eden, he told them that life wouldn't be easy, that they'd have to work for their food, that they would eat their food "in the sweat of thy face" (Genesis 3:19). The Sabbath is the exception to that commandment. On the Sabbath, we're commanded to "rest from [our] labors, and to pay [our] devotions unto the Most High" (D&C 59:10). I could sure use a chance to rest, to cease doing my own work and take time to do the Lord's work, to commune with Him who "made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is." Isaiah promised that when we can honor the Sabbath such that we "call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD," He will bless us and "will cause [us] to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed [us] with the heritage of Jacob"(Isaiah 58:13-14).
Shabbat Shalom! May you have a peaceful Sabbath, and enjoy the renewal of this beautiful day!