There is no doubt that the Bible has a lot to say about every facet of life. God has given us detailed instructions and advice about our relationships, marriage, physical well-being, gifts, purpose, work and, overall, how we operate on a day-to-day basis. But, what does the Bible say about vacation?
As someone who travels for a living, I may be a little biased. However, I know for certain that there is so much more to vacationing than beaches and sunblock.
Today, we’re going to dive into the purpose of vacations and whether or not this purpose aligns with Jesus’s teachings. And, we’re going to address exactly what the Bible says about vacation.
What does the Bible say about vacation?
Literally speaking, the Bible doesn’t say anything about vacations because vacations did not culturally exist for the common man of biblical times, but the Bible does command us to rest, which is why we vacation. We’ll discuss this in-depth in a moment.
But first, back then, people worked to live. Their society structure, unlike ours today, was not built to give average-income families the opportunities to take luxury vacations.
Likewise, traveling was difficult. They did not have airplanes, trains, camper vans or cars to parade them to another country. Nor did they have comfortable hotel chains or travel credit card points, let alone extra money in their budgets to spend.
So, in order to answer the question, “What does the Bible say about vacation,” we have to look into the deeper purpose of our modern vacations.
Why do we vacation? We vacation to rest.
The real question, then, is: “What does the Bible say about rest?”
What does the Bible say about rest?
The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:38 — see the full meaning of this verse here).
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29 — see the full meaning of this verse here).
“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for he grants rest to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2).
“…For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his” (Hebrews 4:10).
These are just a few verses about rest.
Although many Bible verses about rest refer to the adherence to Sabbath, which is very different from taking a fun family vacation, the fact that God created our physical bodies to demand rest on a daily basis — not a monthly basis, not a yearly basis — clearly demonstrates the biblical imperative to rest.
God could have designed our bodies to function awake 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but He didn’t.
Instead, God knew that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of rest would produce more fruitful daytimes, so He intricately engrained the necessity to rest into the microfiber of our being.
Now, what does this have to do with taking a vacation?
Does God take a vacation?
When God created the world, He spent six days creating and the seventh day resting. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” (Genesis 2:2).
While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that God “took a vacation” during his first demonstration of Sabbath in Genesis, I can confidently say that God knew that we would need reassurance that rest is good and that rest is of God.
If resting in moderation is godly, mindfully taking a vacation can also be godly.
As for Jesus…
Did Jesus take a vacation?
Jesus never took a vacation from his ministry because, as mentioned earlier, vacations weren’t a cultural norm back then. But, we do know that he did practice Sabbath, rest and take time away from his colleagues (his disciples) to be in solitude and replenish his spirit (Mark 1:35, Mark 1:45, Matthew 14:23 and more).
As Jesus-followers, we are called to act like Jesus. We are called to do what Jesus did, to obey like Jesus obeyed and to minister like Jesus ministered.
Thus, if Jesus never technically took a vacation, should we take vacations?
Here’s what Jesus has to say in Mark 6:30-34.
What does the Bible say about not going to work?
“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” (Mark 6:30-31).
Jesus saw that the apostles needed a break from their work (even their ministry work), so he commanded them to take a break.
While the apostles rested, Jesus took over and completed the work on behalf of the disciples (Mark 6:32-34).
Can you imagine taking a vacation from work while your colleague finished your assignments for you? That’s Jesus. You can trust that the eternal work you don’t complete while on vacation will be completed by Jesus.
And that physical project on your to-do list (that is likely minuscule in terms of eternity)? It can wait until you get back.
There is a vast difference between being lazy and needing rest. Yes, have the courage to admit when you’re being lazy. Even more, have the humility to admit when you need rest.
Our culture is built on work, which statistically means you’re probably not just being lazy. You need a vacation. Go with Jesus to be by yourself in a quiet place, and get some rest.
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