Updated: Nov 29, 2020
There was a time in my lifetime that Christians observed Sabbath Day, a day of rest and worship – no work. It felt a little legalistic and boring, but it was a day different from all others and we knew why – we were Christians!
Oh, we still have Sundays, and most Christians still worship on it, but very few Christians still have a day of rest – mental, spiritual, physical and emotional rest. (More about that later)
It’s interesting to note that when God established the Sabbath, he did not require his people to do anything on it except not work. No where in scripture does it say “thou shalt go to church or synagogue on the Sabbath.” As an elder, deeply committed to the church, I believe worship on Sunday with others who love God as I do, is one of the joys of being a believer, but it’s not a “thus sayth the Lord” issue. God never even commanded Israel to pray or meditate on him on the Sabbath. Nothing. Rest only.
Why a day of rest? God doesn’t entirely explain why he established a day of rest. Of course God rested on the seventh day of creation, but he doesn’t tell us why he wants us to rest. So, here’s what most theologians believe. God understands that all living things need physical rest to be healthy, so even non-Isrealites and domesticated animals were required to rest.
“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
God even commanded the Israelites to let the land rest every seven years.
“But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.” Leviticus 25:4, 5
Why is rest so important? Rather than try to answer that question, does it really matter? If God commanded his people, and that even the land should rest, do we really need to know his reasons?
So, what robs you of Sabbath rest? Please take a few moments right now to make a list of the things that keep you from truly resting on Sundays.
Email, texts, social media?
Work for business?
Work around the home?
Kids sports programs?
Meetings at church?
What if you fasted from social media or emails on Sunday? You say, it’s relaxing for you? That’s not the point. With that extra time, you could play with your kids, read a good book, take a nap, read scripture, or visit an older or lonely person. What Christian can’t live without social media for a day?
Is there anyone “making you do” any of those things? I’m serious. There are times I’ve done all of them, yes. But nobody has ever commanded me to do them. I’ve had parents tell me, “Well Sunday is the day our children’s soccer league plays!” What terrible thing will happen to your children if they don’t play soccer in that league?
“Well, Saturday is a ‘family day,’ you say. So I really don’t have a choice, I need to cut my grass on Sunday?” Really, where does God tell us that Saturday is “family day,” that to observe it, you’ll need to violate his instructions to rest one day a week? (By the way, in the New Testament, it appears we have freedom to observe the Sabbath Day any day of the week. My pastor’s Sabbath is Friday. He and his wife try like mad to have Fridays be as stressless and restful as possible.)
The truth is, no one is robbing you or me of a day of rest, except us. So today, or this coming Sunday, take an hour to meditate on how you can refresh your spirit and body by getting back to a day of rest. You and God will be happy you did.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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