You say why so much talk on Sabbath Rest? In today’s world there is so much info, so much busyness and business hype it feels like if “you snooze you lose”. Yet, more than ever, we see so much stress related health issues today, burnouts, depression, and broken relationships. Something has to give. So how does sabbath rest fit in? Does it help that God says it is a command and we aren’t taking it serious?
We are going to look at more thoughts, along with some of mine, from Pastor Neil Olcott’s message preached on September 17, 2017 “What did God intend for His people to hear in the Old Testament when He commanded for them to take a Sabbath?” (Part 2 )
Last week we looked at:
GOD HIMSELF TAKES A REST: The God who never sleeps, who is all-powerful and ever-present, decides to take the day of rest on the Seventh day.
REST TO GOD IS SERIOUS BUSINESS: A sabbath rest gives us a chance to become conscious of the eternity in our time,and to live mindful of the presence of God.
And now we will see: SABBATH REST IS A COMMAND, GOD “BLESSED” AND “SET ASIDE” THE SEVENTH DAY and THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US FROM HIS CREATION.
As you read see what you are hearing from God when it comes to God’s Sabbath Rest in your life.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
SABBATH REST IS A COMMAND OF GOD.
If we were to break down Exodus 20:8-11 above what would it be saying?
Remember – “Remember the sabbath day,” means, “Don’t forget to take a day off.” This is giving us permission to rest!
Keeping It Holy – means “set it aside” from all other days as special. Keep it “to or for the Lord.” In other words, the rest is not to be aimless rest, but God-centered rest. Attention is to be directed to the Holy God in a way that is more concentrated than on ordinary days.
One Out of Every Seven – the holy rest day should be one out of every seven. Verse 9-10a: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God.” Work six, rest one, then repeat. That’s the pattern prescribed in the Ten Commandments. Note it does not say that the sabbath (“rest day”) has to be the last or first day of the week. The concept of weeks is not even mentioned. The command is simply work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a sabbath.
No Fudging on the commandment by saying (refer to verse 10b) “Well, I will keep it, but I will put my maid to work, or set my ox to threshing with a carrot in front of his nose at 6 PM the evening of the sabbath so that it will thresh the grain all day while I rest.” God says, No! You miss the point if you try to keep the business running by using servants, animals or relatives. What’s the point?
God’s Rest After Creation – verse 11 leads us to the basic point of the commandment. It is based on God’s rest after creation: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it Holy.“
The command to rest after one has worked six days. We can think of two businesses flourishing that take this command seriously to rest their entire companies each Sunday. Hobby Lobby and Chick-fi-la provide splendid models of work and rest.
If the Sabbath Rest is a command how many of us take it serious?
GOD “BLESSED” AND “SET ASIDE” THE SEVENTH DAY
Look at Exodus 20:11 (above) and again in Genesis 2:3a “ So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy…”
What does it mean for God to “bless” a day? Neil suggests that God makes the day a time of blessing. When God blesses a man, the man becomes rich with blessings. When he blesses a land, the land becomes rich with blessings. So when he blesses a day, that day becomes rich with blessings.
What does it mean God made the day “holy”? “Holy“ or “Hallow” is the same word as “sanctifies” or “set the day aside“ for special focus on what is holy, namely, God and his holy works.
Now consider, how do these fit together? He blessed and sanctifies the day, makes it holy. It is a special kind of rest and day. This “set-apart blessing” does not refer to “prosperity” theology. The text seems to indicate that God “blesses” us when we “set a day aside” to rest where we are focused on Him.
He made it a source of blessing, and he made it to focus on himself. Isn’t it obvious that the “setting aside” is included in the blessing and the opposite is true too. When you focus your attention on God, you receive more blessing than if you keep on busying yourself seven days a week with secular affairs, thinking that professional advancement and money are the route to true happiness. And (the reverse) when you seek your blessing in God rather than in the products of human labor, you glorify him and honor his holiness as of greater wealth and value. Your actions speak louder than your words! They proclaim that you trust Him as you acknowledge His blessing in your life!
The other day I was reminded of this truth once again in a small way: I was trying really hard to get a project finished and didn’t take much time to spend with God. I was getting tired by each minute. Lots of interruptions too. I was beginning to fret and my attitude was affecting others around me. I decided to stop as much as I wanted to keep pushing. I took extra time to rest and spend with God, even as I was feeling at first like I was wasting time and I might not get the work done as scheduled. It didn’t matter, my attitude and the relationships around me were more important. By walking , I enjoyed His creation. After I rested and focused on God, I found more energy, motivation and got the work done in half the time, finishing the job even earlier than expected. My heart was blessed and thankful to God for what He had done.
THE SABBATH REST ALLOWS GOD TO SPEAK TO US FROM HIS CREATION.
The reason given in both in Exodus 20:11 and Genesis 2:3b: Why God blessed and made the seventh day Holy is that “…on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.”
What does it mean that God rested? It means at least that he was satisfied that his work of creation was complete and was “very good.” We know that Jesus tells us His Father never stops working in John 5:16-17 (NIV)
16 So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted him. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
His rest means that he wanted to now stand back as it were in leisure and savor the beauty and completeness of his creative work.
This immediately instructs us to realize that Sabbath rest can include admiring God’s beauty and creation. Enjoying His work in nature and through the hands of His creation – art, music, beauty.
This is the real basis of his blessing and making the day of rest Holy. He is saying in effect, “Let my highest creature, the one in my image, stop every seven days and commemorate with me the fact that I am the creator who has done all this. Let him stop working and focus on me, that I am the source of all that he has. I am the fountain of blessing. I have made the very hands and mind with which he works. Let one day out of seven demonstrate that all land and all animals and all raw materials, all breath, strength, thought, emotion and everything come from me. Let man look to me in leisure one day out of seven for the blessing that is so elusive in the affairs of this world.” All true blessings come from his grace, not our labor.
What are you hearing from God today for what He intended for the Sabbath rest?
PERSONAL REFLECTION: How shall we treat the command to Sabbath? How does Sabbath Rest help us appreciate all of God’s good gifts? How then should you order your Sabbath Rest? Would love to hear your comments after reading: Hearing God through Sabbath rest. (Series 2/Part 2 of 3)
From One Pilgrim to another together on the journey,
along with Pastor Neil Olcott of Compass Point Church
”Consider how you may spur one another on towards love and good deeds….. encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
“ Intentionally journaling alongside of mission minded women in order to encourage them to see God in their story, moving them closer to Jesus, and to discover their place in God’s Kingdom so God will be worshipped among the nations”