Labor Day, the “unofficial end of summer,” is a day given to workers to honor their work and give them a day of rest. As it approached this year it began to remind me a lot of the Sabbath, the designated last day of the week that God gave us to rest from our six days of work.
Like much of scripture, people have lost the honor and respect for the Sabbath. How many people today tell you that they can’t do something because “it’s the Sabbath?” Can you recall anyone doing that?
One of the beautiful things about my wife is that she is a God honoring woman. A few years ago she started to study the Sabbath and asked why we didn’t follow it closely as a family. Of course we remembered in the Bible where it says “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” That’s the normal justification for ignoring the day of rest.
Matthew Henry, famous for his Biblical commentaries, pointed out that: “God never intended it to be an imposition on us, and therefore we must not make it so to ourselves.” So should we now work seven days a week?
As with many things, we take the freedom that Christ gave us too far. The Sabbath was given to us by God directly as a commandment to observe not as an imposition as Henry indicated. Instead, it’s a guide for healthy living and a reminder to draw close to and seek Him out. It doesn’t have to be the same day of the week for everyone but it’s a good idea for everyone to pick a day to rest. That is the example that God gave us, to develop a habit of refreshing our minds and bodies and drawing closer to Him.
Of course, if we are in Christ, He is our rest. We are not under the law but the principals of the Sabbath remain. During the Exodus many of the Jews didn’t take the opportunity to draw closer to God even though He was right there with them.
They found that the farther you get from the best that the Lord has for you; the worse off your situation, and heart, becomes. When the Holy Spirit spoke of their disobedience and not following His rest (pursuing after God and not idols) He said: “’They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways’. As I swore in my wrath, ‘they shall not enter my rest’”.
A major focus of this ministry is to acknowledge God as Creator. Emphasizing His act of creation is one of the reasons he rested in Exodus 31:16-17: “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” Have you ever considered that the example that the Lord gave to rest was done before the Law was given?
God certainly didn’t need to rest on the seventh day. The Lord Jesus didn’t need to take the Sabbath off before He rose. But he did. Even the One who told us not to be legalistic set the example by following it. The Sabbath is still holy, but also still made for us. As Henry said, “…receive and embrace it as a privilege and a benefit, not as a task and a drudgery.” So how are you doing with it? Got Sabbath?