In the hustle and bustle lives that we lead in today’s world, rest doesn’t usually make it into our list of things to do. I keep a day planner and have for years, but guess what never makes it into the planner. Yep, you’re right… rest.
Noise seems to overwhelm our day and as it is compounded it overcomes the rhythm of our life. Be intentional about creating rest just like music needs intentional spaces of rest to create the best rhythm.
Is it really that important to take time to rest? There’s so much to do!
That’s because we haven’t learned to say no to requests that people make of us. We always want to help out or run the kids to ball games and practices, music lessons, and scout meetings. Are you feeling worn down? I think most of us are.
So, what can we do about it and why is rest so important?
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matt. 11: 28-30
Jesus promises to give us rest if we’ll come to him. How do we do that? We block some time out of our busy schedules to spend with him. It could be time spent in prayer or focusing on a piece of scripture. The time could be spent enjoying the things God has provided for us. A walk in the woods, a day at the beach with family, game night with the kids, appreciating the country around us. Now is the perfect time for time spent admiring the leaves that will soon paint a glorious picture on the landscape. It doesn’t matter how we do it as long as we reflect on our relationship with Jesus.
There are several other places in the Bible that rest is addressed. Let’s go all the way back to creation. God modelled for us this concept.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.Gen. 2: 2-3
God was done, so he stopped. When we observe the Sabbath, we remember that God rested and called the day holy. It was a day he set apart as different.
Let’s look at the time in the Old Testament when the Israelites were wandering in the desert. God provided manna for them to eat. Six days he provided it. They were only to gather enough for that day. But, on the sixth day he commanded them to gather enough for two days. Because on the Sabbath God would rest.
Listening to this sermon about the Sabbath this morning, brought an interesting thing about the 10 commandments that I had never realized. Being a disciple of Christ basically comes down to 2 commands. Love God and love others. The first 3 commandments are about loving God.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol…or bow down to them or worship them…
- You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
The last six commandments are about loving others.
- Honor father and mother
- Don’t kill
- Don’t commit adultery
- Don’t steal
- Don’t lie against your neighbor
- Don’t sinfully want what they have
In the middle at number 4 is one that commands us to keep the Sabbath. The problem is that we don’t see it as a moral issue, but it’s smack dab in the middle of the very thing that has shaped the moral conduct of Western Civilization. The command to rest. Why?
The Sabbath command is the hinge that connects all the other commandments. It is what empowers us to be able to love God and love others.
Two more scriptures relating to Sabbath are found in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Let’s take a look at them.
“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 you 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
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 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 make or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.Deuteronomy 5:12-15
- Exodus grounds the Sabbath in creation. Deuteronomy in the liberation from Egypt.
- Ex. reminds us to look up. Dt. reminds us to look back.
- Sabbath reminds us that we’re God’s creation and not slaves to our past.
- Ex. we mimic God and remember that we are not God.
- Keeping the Sabbath lets us recognize our weakness and frailty.
- In Dt. God teaches us that with no rest we are slaves to taskmasters.
- Refusing to rest is like living like we are still slaves.
Choose one day a week to commit to practice the Sabbath. Don’t let it slide. Plan family moments during the week. Meals. Games. Walks. Prayer. It takes advance planning. You can’t do it in the moment. Arrange life around your plan. Say no to over-scheduling. It frees us to say yes to family time. Of course, there may need to be some flexibility. Sometimes you have to call an audible.
- To run without stopping violates God’s design.
- We forget who we are, who God is, and all He has done.
- We need to make a day to be still and know…
- And give it a rest.
I have to admit that taking a Sabbath is not something I had done in the past. I still need to schedule more time into my week for family time and to bask in God’s goodness. But in the past couple of years I have committed to a daily reading and devotional time and time spent in prayer throughout the day. Sabbath time seems like the next step.
So give it a rest…