Like An Athlete, We Need To Train So We Can Finish The Race, Fight The Good Fight.
If you have been following, we have been looking at Spiritual Disciplines. Many Christians feel that the “Sabbath” is a discipline and/or a commandment. Today, I would like to explain, by using scripture just what the Sabbath is and how it fits into our lives today. If you are a workaholic or a adrenaline addict in recovery than this page is for you.
In one sense, no: under the new covenant, no Christian is bound to the fourth commandment as such. We may still decide to rest one day in seven — and indeed, wisdom seems to support the practice of imitating God’s own 6-and-1 pattern (Genesis 1:1–2:3). Especially in a day when many can work anytime anywhere — answering emails after dinner, taking calls on the weekend — we may do well, even for one day in seven, to say, “I worked yesterday, I will work tomorrow, but today I rest and worship.
The fourth of the ten commandments is “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, ESV). Following the command are statements defining the Sabbath as “the seventh day” (verse 10), dedicating it to “the Lord your God” (verse 10), forbidding all work in it, applying it to everyone in Israel, and citing the basis for it: “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” (verse 11).
The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning “rest” or Day of Rest. The Bible specifies that this day of rest is the seventh day of the week, what we would call “Saturday,” or in the Israelite mindset, sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. God set the pattern for the Sabbath rest in Genesis 2:2, ceasing from His work of creation on the seventh day. God’s action (or, rather, His inaction) in Genesis 2 foreshadowed the Law’s command in Exodus 20:8.
Keeping of the Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between Israel and the Lord: “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come” (Exodus 31:13). As Israel kept the Sabbath set apart, they were reminded that they were also being set apart: “So you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy” (verse 13). Believers today, being under the New Covenant, are not bound to keep the sign of the Old Covenant
Keeping the Sabbath teaches us to trust God and enjoy Him. It’s God’s way to set us free from worry and anxiety, ambition and anger, even loneliness. Because in the green pastures of Good Shepherd’s grace and beside his still waters we discover that it’s really true: “He restores my soul!” (Psalm 23:3).
But as time went on the Lord’s people strayed from keeping the Sabbath and so again and again the prophets reminded them that the Lord gave the Sabbath to them as a blessing and as a sign of his precious loving presence with them (Isaiah 56:2, 6-7, 58:13-14, Ezekiel 20:20).
When Jesus’ came on the scene most of the Lord’s people, following the teaching of the Pharisees, observed the Sabbath, but they did so in a legalistic way that missed the whole point of resting and rejoicing in their relationship with the Lord. They followed an extensive list of rules designed to prevent anyone from doing any work.
But people were so burdened with the work of trying not to do any work that Sabbath-keeping was obscuring the grace and healing of God that it was intended to offer! (Mark 7:8-13).
Jesus shook things up when he pronounced: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). Then he backed up his words by healing people on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-14, Luke 13:10-16, John 5:1-15) and teaching them how to come to him to find real rest (Matthew 11:28-30).
But none of what Jesus did or said was meant to do away with Sabbath-keeping!
God has created us such that we need one day in seven to do no work and to rest in God’s grace. Jesus himself followed the custom of honoring the Sabbath (Luke 4:16, Mark 6:1-2). And Jesus’ followers kept the Sabbath (Luke 23:56, Acts 16:13, 17:2). Even Gentile Christians observed the Sabbath (Acts 13:42-44). The fact is that God has intended that people should observe the Sabbath rest in God throughout eternity! (Isaiah 66:22-23).
OK, How do I recover? I have been doing the legalistic, fast pace, Sabbath ritual for many years. What do I do Now? You need to slow down for a Sabbath rest.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” Paul says (Colossians 3:15). We all long for the peace of Christ. But we don’t want to be ruled!
Sabbath teaches me to let go of all the ways I want to make things happen or control the people and situations in my life. It helps me to be governed by God in what I do and in how I do it. So, in the end I do know that I am being ruled. Ruled by a loving God who knows what I need and able to give it to me.
Maybe you, like me, have been keeping the Sabbath by going to church, spending some time with family, or squeezing in as many “projects” as you could. That’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday, but it was not enough to teach us how to live in God’s peace.
My guess is that you need Sabbath time too. It’s a powerful treatment not only for overworking or adrenaline dependence, but also for busyness, anxiety, self-importance, trying to control the outcomes of situations, and worrying about pleasing or impressing people.
Several years ago I started being intentional about setting aside a day of prayer for spiritual rest and renewal. Sad to say many of my spiritual mentors were "Pastors", "Bishops" and other such "Sabbath workers" who just could not understand the thought of not going to "church" for "church was their life.
Now, please don’t think I’m holy because I keep a Sabbath differently. Or that I am a sinner for not going to church on the Sabbath. The truth is that we have been raised with the idea that man was made for the Sabbath instead of the Sabbath made for Man. I do what I do because I need help to be still and know that the Lord is God – he is in charge, not me, not society, not religious practices (Psalm 46:10).
I need to engage my heart with God so I focus on being with Christ and conversing with him(my wife continues to say "Who are you talking to?). I write in my journal/web-pages, I process my experiences, confess my sins, or write down what I sense God is saying to me.
Notice I did not say "I go to church" or "I am an active church leader" I am not here to say that this is wrong, but as we search the truth we see that the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath. The Sabbath was not intended to keep us busy.
Did you know Psalm 92 is specifically designated as a Psalm to pray on the Sabbath? Have you ever done this? The notation at the beginning of the Psalm says: “A Psalm to be Sung on the Lord’s Day” (NLT). Take a Sabbath and spend some time with Psalm 92 – you’ll find it very helpful!
To explain Sabbath praying and playing, Psalm 92 presents the Sabbath as a day to “give thanks to God”
The Psalmist then provides us with three metaphors showing that the parallel Sabbath actions of praying and playing are like music (verses 1-4), animals (verses 10-11), and palm trees (verses 12-14). Music? Animals? Palm trees? Yes! Praying and playing need the musician’s combination of discipline and delight, the wild ox’s unrestrained and exuberant prancing, and the palm tree’s vibrant growth in the desert.
And because prayerful play and playful prayer are not meant to be detached from real-world-living the middle of the Sabbath psalm addresses the problem of evil (verses 5-9).
When we set aside a day to do no work so we pray and play we find that our souls are restored! We proclaim with the Sabbath Psalm-writer: “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock!” (verse 15).
In my history I struggled to to learn not to be ruled by the legalistic format of the sabbath but to be ruled by the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15) not of my hurry and my ambition.
“Hurry Up and Be Still: Freedom From Adrenaline Dependence” tells the story of how I got free of using adrenaline and overworking to compensate for my feelings of anxiety and inadequacy.
Some people get hung up on which day to keep a Sabbath. As You know now that is not the important issue. Some say you must attend church every Sunday and that fulfills the commandment. Again, doing that is not keeping the Sabbath. As we have been finding out Jesus said "Know The Truth and it will set you Free". The Truth about the Sabbath is, God desires your heart! Going to church every Sunday does not give God Your Heart! Worshiping on Saturday does not Give God Your heart. We need to remember Jesus, what he has done for us, praise and worship him for who He is. Weather we do it with a group of other believers, our family or even Just ourself alone in our own room, in the mountains,or by a stream, God wants us to remember what he has done for us and that we want to be with Him. It is what we do when no one else is watching that Jesus Knows He has our heart.
Please take time to watch Sabbath videos which may help explain and bring you into a better understanding of "Keeping The Sabbath".