“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:8-11
In God’s eyes, rest is not an option in the Kingdom. He made us for it— So why aren’t we taking it seriously?
If you’ve been around the church for any length of time you have probably heard of sabbath before. After all, it’s #4 of the ten commandments and takes up the most real estate by far when God gives Moses these commandments in Exodus.
Before we shelve this commandment as just a part of the dusty old testament law, though, let’s examine God’s heart behind “impractical” Sabbath.
What is Sabbath?
If you had asked us what Sabbath was a year ago we would have probably said “a nice thought”. For a lot of us, we think of Sabbath as simply a period of rest— A day off. But like vacation days, sabbath seems impractical to practice weekly in our modern age, so we label it as an “ancient practice”. Maybe it’s time to challenge it’s out-dated label though because we believe that God’s promise attached to Sabbath is still the same today as it was for the Israelites. And while Sabbath is at its core a day of rest, to capture the vision behind this holy day we have to go a little deeper and lay a framework of understanding for us to build on.
- Just Like God, we are workers | For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth
God is a laborer, it is a part of His image that we carry and that He celebrates. We were made to work, and work excellently. In fact, one of God’s first mandates for mankind is to be culture-makers. In Genesis 1:28 God says: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over it, the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
Being dedicated to our work, within healthy limits, is a way we agree with God in who He says He is and who He tells us we are. It’s a way to worship.
- Just like God we rest & enjoy | But he rested on the seventh day
We were not just made for work though. God made that clear. God stopped to enjoy what He had created, and in very very simple terms— God did it so we should to. If we had to guess “create the universe” is not jotted down in anyone’s weekly agenda, but because of God’s cultural mandate we talked about while ago, we do have a part in world-shaping and in short, the Sabbath is our opportunity to stop and enjoy the world we are co-laboring with God to create. We see God’s heart for celebration, enjoyment, and “being” in the Sabbath— It’s a big deal that in God’s perfect world, we would take ONE-SEVENTH of our life to just rest and enjoy.
But there is more richness to be found in the practice of Sabbath if we look at the second time God commands His people to observe it in Deuteronomy 5:12-15. The language is almost the exact same as the first appearance of the ten commandments, but this time God adds:
“Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath”
- Sabbath Affirms that God is God and We are Not | God freed you
What we often miss about rest is that it requires sacrifice. It’s the laying down of our time and declaring God better than our own agenda. Rest doesn’t just happen. Sabbath may sound like a dream— And trust us you’ll start to look forward to it as a holiday— but it does not come without a cost. But in Christ, we can be cheerful givers.
In practicing sabbath we get to declare that we do not work our way into security. We declare God our ultimate provider, protector, intercessor, and our good Father. We declare God worthy of our worship and create a lifestyle around celebrating His presence and what He has done for us and through us. By practicing the sabbath we remember who God is and who He says we are.
- It’s not irrelevant in a Post-Jesus world.
In our Post-Jesus worldview, we have a tendency to view the law as a dusty old legalistic book that mostly serves to offend people and doesn’t have much to do with us since Jesus already died for us. What we forget is that Jesus came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. In fact, when we view the law as something to be abolished we miss God’s heart for the law— that it would be guardrails for a flourishing life. God has always been FOR US. That is not a new characteristic that came with Jesus. If anything, Jesus just reinforces this perspective on the law by practicing it faithfully— Yes! Jesus Sabbath-ed! Just read through the gospels! He placed honor on the law to celebrate the characteristics it reflected of our good Father. *Disclaimer* In our brokenness, us humans can take laws intended for our good and use them as weapons (hello, Pharisees..), but God’s intention was not to smother us with the law, but to bring us close. In our post-Jesus world we are given the freedom to live in the security of our salvation— And in living in our salvation submitting to the way of Jesus to know Him more, which just so happens falls in the pleasant boundary lines of the law.
Alright. So where do we go from here? Good question. This is only our starting line— This is where the good stuff is. Over the next month, we are going to take a deep dive into what Sabbath is, why we are excited about it, how to practice it practically and how to create a lifestyle rooted in the unforced rhythms of grace. How? Through our podcast. That’s right we said PODCAST. Ready? Go ahead and subscribe to our podcast, Let’s Riot, on Spotify and Google Play, where next week we’ll be chatting about our unfiltered thoughts about Sabbath and how it’s, in no small way, changed our walk with God.