Sabbath Resting

Proverbs 25:2 (NIV)

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;

to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

Proverbs 2:1-6 (NIV)

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,

turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding,

and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,

and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

"The New (Testament) is in the Old (Testament) concealed,

the Old is in the New revealed." (Anon.)

Some Scriptures Regarding the Sabbath

Exodus 20:8 (NIV) 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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 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.

Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV) "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Colossians 2:16 (NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Hebrews 4:1 (NIV) Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

4:9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.

 

Some Thoughts Regarding the Sabbath

 

What does it mean to rest from my own work? On the obvious level I am to "take a break." Ceasing from my normal workday activities gives my body and mind the vacation they were designed to require.

But resting from my own work can, and should, happen in the spiritual dimension all the time. I rest from my own work when I recognize I am not going to be the one to cause any good thing to happen or to prevent any bad thing from happening; and purposefully leave it all in God's hands. Faith it's called. It is resting in the assurance that God loves me, that God is good, that God is powerful, that God is wise. This is the very antithesis of "God helps those who help themselves," for God helps those who rest in Him. He wants my effort to be invested in pursuing rest! Only as I rest in Him am I out of His way.

The picture I see is of the little child who wants to help Mommy sew a new outfit for her. If she rests quietly at Mom's side, she will be given the little jobs her Mother knows she can handle: sewing on a button perhaps, or searching for the spool of thread that rolled under the table. But if she insists on climbing up into Mommy's lap and gets her little hands near the running needle or tries to arrange and cut out the pattern pieces, she is going to complicate the process greatly. I can just see the delay she will cause. Those little hands might have to be removed a time or two or even slapped to protect them from danger. Mother will have to stop her work to deliver reprimands and instructions for proper behavior. When the outfit is completed, after much more time has elapsed than was necessary, the tears may not yet be dry and the pleasure of putting on the new outfit will certainly be diminished.

The child who rested at her mother's side in eager anticipation, however, will know the undiminished pleasure of having a new outfit. Even more than that, though, she will have the joy that comes from sharing sweet time with her mother. She will have proven herself faithful in small things and so will be entrusted with bigger responsibilities the next time (Mt.25:21). By virtue of what she had--patience, obedience, self-control-- she will be given more (Mk. 4:25).

This is what God is asking of me. The keeping of the Sabbath is a "shadow" of entering God's rest (Col.2:16). My shadow is something like me, but it certainly isnít the whole picture. Another analogy is the way a model ship is a representation of a full-sized ship. Ceasing from work on the Sabbath is a "shadow" or a representation of what it is like to cease my human striving to work out my life for myself. If I put all my efforts into figuring out what keeping the Sabbath looks like, I donít think I have concentrated my energies on the most important thing. It's like believing the model ship is more important than the real ship. It's believing the things God put in place to help me understand Jesus are Jesus, or at least to put them on par with Him. If I am to know Jesus, I must "be zealous and exert (myself) and strive diligently to enter that rest of God, to know and experience it for (myself)..."(Hebrews 4:11, Amplified). As I learn to enter into God's rest, I put myself in a position to know His will for me on every level--including how He would have me keep the Sabbath. But even better, I put myself in a position to know Him!

I must always remember that Christianity isn't about keeping the law; it's about having an up close and personal relationship with Jesus.

Now I can look back to what the Old Testament teaches me about the Sabbath and be challenged. If I couldn't get to the laundry on Saturday, if my husband didn't have time on Friday to finish his paperwork, if my kids tried their best but couldn't get their homework done and still get the sleep they needed, do I believe we can rest on the Sabbath and trust God to see to it that our world doesn't come crashing down the following week? I see this as a way for me to check on myself to determine if I am living by faith in God or by faith in myself.

How could I sit in judgment on you, though? I don't know your heart, your motivations. You might never lift a finger on the Sabbath but you do it because you were raised that way and you feel pretty good about your "righteousness." You haven't entered into God's rest. You are still busy doing good works, thinking you're earning brownie points with God. You are working as hard as the guy next door slaving away on his presentation for Monday. Then again, you might have entered God's rest and as you were there with Him He nudged you to get your gardening gloves and go outside. Maybe He wants to teach you some profound lesson on rest from a bug you will observe. Maybe He is going to have your neighbor come out and get the two of you into a conversation that will leave you both blessed. If I see you with your gardening gloves and judge you for breaking the Sabbath, I don't know what I'm talking about. Of course you can also get your gardening gloves on and go talk to your neighbor and neither activity have anything to do with God's rest! The point is, it's between you and Jesus; but know that rest isn't an optional activity to Him. Resting means having faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

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