God wants intimacy with us. At creation, he declared the seventh day, the Sabbath, to be set aside for a holy purpose. All of Sabbath is about intimacy with God and one aspect of that intimacy is rest. People replaced the seventh day with Sunday and that started the erosion of the sanctification of the day.
God set aside the Sabbath for four purposes. The first is rest.
In our culture, we are hammered mentally and emotionally through the week. We need to stop and take time to rest. The world is not going to get slower. Stress will be THE epidemic of the 21st century. Machines and devices won’t give us balance in our lives, that’s up to us. There is so little quiet and peace and rest in our lives. So little freedom from noise and distractions. And there is the brain noise of guilt and worry and fear. The temptation to fill the silence is endless.
Without seeking, we won’t find tranquility and solitude. We need to define our geographic sanctuaries, wherever we are.
God intended the Sabbath to be a sanctuary in time. We have to pause, and destress. We have to find places of peace in a world that’s moving too fast. In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still. Sabbath is the inner rest of the soul. It’s an executive order from God.
Exodus 20: 8 – 11. Only the fourth commandment about the Sabbath uses the word “holy.” God gave manna to his people in the desert, twice as much only on Friday, for the Sabbath. After that God spoke to Moses, see Exodus 31: 12 – 17.
Nehemiah 13: 15 – 22 speaks of Nehemiah’s reform. Deuteronomy 5: 12 – 15 reiterates the commandment in Exodus and adds a reminder from God about how He freed His people from slavery in Egypt. Are we enslaved to anything in our lives today?
The opposite of Sabbath is work and worry. A Sabbath without worry does not just happen, we have to make decisions that empower God to move in our lives and shape that time as holy. Rest requires discipline. Discipline sets us free. But we need to avoid legalism.
What is interrupting the sacred rhythm of Sabbath in our lives and denying us the rest? Being quiet might seem boring at first but we have to shuffle through the boredom — ignoring distractions — to get intimate with God.
What do YOU need to embrace to fully embrace the Sabbath? What do you need to walk away from? What do you need to put in — in place of what you put out?