Leviticus 26:2 “You must keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD.”
Mark 2:27 “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Hebrews 4:9 “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”
“Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I confess a dread to cover this topic, because I fear I fall so very short of fulfilling it. Not because I am under law and feel a compulsion to fulfill an obligation, but because it is unclear to me what a Sabbath rest looks like today, and I very much want to honor God.
The hectic pace we all run today makes rest a scarce commodity. I laugh when people complain of boredom – I do not know what that word means. My “to do” list is never completely accomplished, and I often feel guilty if I just want to rest without doing something. Yep. Type A personality. Being diligent is an attribute that God desires for us to aspire to, but He also, being God, made time to rest. He modeled rest from the beginning, commanded it for His children, and when He came in the flesh, Christ, too, modeled rest.
It is often said that we are not under law anymore, so the Old Testament does not apply to us. None of it? Why would God give us the Old Testament, then? The verses above indicate that the Old Testament is completed in the New Testament. Together, they are the framework for how the believer should live. No longer outward obedience, but inward. No longer a priest as an intermediary, but Christ. No longer God on a mountain, but God within. The standard is higher, the application of the principles constant. Obvious changes in culture and the new covenant mean a different application, but the same Spirit authored both covenants.
So, a Sabbath remains. What does that look like? Does it mean outward rules and specifications from the Old Testament, or a vibrant relationship with God which guides us? Asking God what He wants you to do with that time. What rest looks like to one, might not be the same thing to another. Some might have a conviction of not eating out, for that prevents someone else from enjoying the Sabbath. Another might choose to eat out to have a break from cooking. But if obeying the call to a Sabbath becomes a litany of rules and obligations, I fear we have missed the point entirely. In general, it means coming apart from our hectic pace and honoring God. Worshiping Him and devoting time to rest in Him, to refuel and recharge. I have an image in my mind of crawling up in His lap and resting in His embrace. Sounds good about now.
Man is not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man. What a good God to command us to rest. It seems paradoxical to us overachievers, but my weary body admits the folly of not carving time out for what God has commanded and knows our bodies and our souls need. May we be thoughtful how we approach the Sabbath day. Whatever day we choose to honor the Sabbath – a Sunday, a Saturday, a Monday or a Friday – it is all about His glory and enjoying time with our Creator.
Lord, help us to pause. Help us to create spaces where we can rest in you – daily, weekly, moment by moment. Convince our souls of this need and be glorified in it!