Sabbath – a day set aside for rest and worship.
Sounds simple doesn’t it? However, it is not so simple after all. So many times through the past many years of being a Christ follower, I have made a commitment to take a weekly sabbath, only to fail really quickly. I can handle the discipline of prayer, I love to pray and I pray continually. I can handle the discipline of tithing 10% of all my income to the Lord through the local church, that hasn’t been a problem in years. But, when it comes to setting aside a 24 hour day to rest and worship, I have failed repeatedly.
So here is my dilemma. For the past eight weeks I have been preaching, along with two of my colleagues through the Spiritual Disciplines found in the Holy Scriptures. The fact is, we thought we were finished with the series but somehow through conversation we decided that we had missed some really important disciplines, like Sabbath.
So, here we are. This Sunday the message is entitled, “Be Like Jesus.” Of course Jesus observed the Sabbath, so let’s see what we know about it.
Leviticus 23:3 NLT
“You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live.
There are various other places that affirm the sabbath and how it is to be observed.
- Set Apart One Day A Week
- Rest and Worship
- Gather with Other Believers
- Give an Offering
- Refrain from Buying and Selling
I have no problem abiding by any of these guidelines for Sabbath, except the last one. That buying and selling thing! In the world in which we now live it is very different so I do believe there is an interesting caveat here. In the time of Jesus and the Old Covenant, all of the Jewish people observed the same day as Sabbath and that day was from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.
We read in Nehemiah 13 that Nehemiah had to stop the people from buying and selling on the Sabbath because their lack of observance was causing problems, in other words they were missing the blessing God wanted them to have by not observing the day of worship and rest.
Here is the difference for us today. The passage is found in Mark 2: 23-28 NLT
23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”
25 Jesus said to them, “Haven’t you ever read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 26 He went into the house of God (during the days when Abiathar was high priest) and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests are allowed to eat. He also gave some to his companions.”
27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
Jesus here says in essence, as He does of the other disciplines, there is no room for legalism. The Sabbath was made to bless us, to meet our needs, for us to re-center our lives.
To make it plain, we have been given a gift of rest that is available to us one day out of every seven. On that day we get the opportunity to take it easy, to rest, to re-center our lives around our Lord. This is the time to read a little more of God’s Word, to spend a little more time with God’s people and with family and friends. This is a day that we can receive, without fear of appearing lazy or not getting our work done. I believe scripture teaches that if we receive this day from our Lord, we will be even more productive the rest of the week. Sort of like tithing, God does more with us and through us with our 90% left over than we could ever do with 100% and not tithing.
So here is the reason for the blog post. The scripture has captured me today as I have studied and prepared to preach to God’s people on Sunday. It has convicted me that I don’t observe this discipline very well and it has affirmed for me that I need this day of rest and worship. I know my family will have a hard time believing this but they will just have to wait and see. I have already logged into my calendar a Sabbath Day of Rest for the next two months. Most of the time that will be sundown Friday util sundown Saturday at other times it will be another day of the week due to meetings and responsibilities that I have no control over, but there will be one day each week. In order to observe this day as a true Sabbath I will turn off all notifications on my cell phone and have no presence on social media during that 24 hour period of time. I have to take drastic measures if I want to receive the greatest blessing God has for me. This should be easier than I imagine it being and to be real honest, I’m excited. I’m looking forward to seeing how much more God will accomplish through me when I am doing it His way, the way that makes no sense to the world, and not man’s way.
I would love to hear your comments and by the way, Happy Sabbath.