Sabbath: You Need To Rest

On the seventh day you shall rest.” Exodus 34:21
We are living in a time that depletes our energy, emotions, and resources like nothing we have seen in our lifetime. Many people are experiencing emotional and spiritual exhaustion, and we are not doing what we should to ensure that we are rested, replenished, and renewed.

It's interesting to me that one of God's top ten in the Ten Commandments is to remember the sabbath. The Hebrew word for sabbath is shabbat and it speaks of restIt's important to God that we have a set time on our weekly calendar to honor Him and obtain rest.

This idea began at creation (Gen 2:1-3) and was instituted after the exodus of Israel from Egypt (Exod 20:8-11). The Hebrew term shabbat speaks of “rest” (Gen 2:2). Each week, from sundown on Friday till sundown on Saturday, God commanded His people Israel to honor Him and set this time aside from the chaos and distraction of everyday life. If God rested then so should we. We need to be intentional in allowing our soul and body to rest and be replenished. This time of rest, or the Sabbath, reminded Israelites of certain things.

First, they were reminded that God rested after bringing the chaotic creation into a habitable place for humanity (Gen 1:2; 2:1-3). God had brought order to the unformed earth and the primeval watery deep (Gen 1:2) to create a home for humanity. He came to earth to dwell in his garden with his human family (Gen 3:8; Ezek 28:13; 31:8, 9; Isa. 51:3).


Second, Sabbath reminded Israel of how God had again shown his mastery over the chaotic watery deep by parting the Red Sea to deliver his people from Egypt’s pharaoh and its gods. He would bring them to the home he had prepared for them and save them from all the supernatural powers of chaos that sought their destruction. By remembering the Sabbath, Israel remembered who was truly God of gods, Master of creation, and that this mighty God had loved them before the Law of God was given (Deut 7:7-8). Israel did not have to earn God’s love, only rest in it. The Sabbath rest reminded them of the hand of God in their origin, status, and destiny. Jesus and his disciples observed the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.

After the resurrection, Jewish followers of Jesus honored the Sabbath but gradually began to meet on the first day of the week, the day of resurrection (Matt 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). The New Testament believers, Jew and Gentile alike, thought of this day as “the first day of Sabbath rest” (the literal Greek wording in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). They connected the idea of Sabbath to what Jesus did on the cross. As the book of Hebrews tells us, Jesus is our Sabbath rest: FOR WE WHO HAVE BELIEVED ENTER THAT REST. . . SO THEN, THERE REMAINS A SABBATH REST FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD, FOR WHOEVER HAS ENTERED GOD’S REST HAS ALSO RESTED FROM HIS WORKS AS GOD DID FROM HIS. (Heb 4:3, 9-10) We lack nothing in God’s eyes when it comes to his acceptance of us as children in his family. We are whole in Christ, equal members of the same family, not on the basis of our performance, but on the basis of the perfect obedience of Jesus in accomplishing his mission for our forgiveness and salvation. We are to rest in that.

One of the best ways to maintain your perspective on what’s truly important is to plan times of rest and recreation. The word recreation means to “re-create”: to recharge your batteries physically, spiritually, emotionally, and relationally. Rest and recreation restore your creativity, fuel your vision, and bring balance to your world. The fact is, some of the people we admire most are socially and relationally dysfunctional. For example, if you took the pulpit away from certain preachers and the CEO title away from certain executives, they’d be totally lost. And if you’re honest, you’d conclude that in all likelihood they needed counseling. They’ve only one string on their fiddle—work. Without it they don’t know how to live! Is the same true for you?

The Bible says, “God…rested from all his work” (Ge 2:2 NIV). Now, since God doesn’t sleep and never gets tired, clearly He was setting an example for us to follow. Purpose-driven people can become obsessed with work and believe they don’t have time for fun. Some may even consider fun to be “carnal.” But Jesus said to His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mk 6:31 NIV). God, who thought that taking time off was so important that He put it in the Bible, said, “If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy…if you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’ making money, running here and there—then you’ll be free to enjoy God!” (Isa 58:13-14 TM). So the word for you today is: “Start taking time off and get some rest."

Love you church family,

Pastor Justin Mitchell

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