The Blessing of the Sabbath
The Sabbath – we think of the Jewish day of rest, or maybe any day when we’re not working, or the day we attend church. Yeshua says of the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath is one of the blessings God made for mankind to enjoy. He practiced it Himself on the seventh day of creation. Was God tired? Had all the work He’d done on the first six days worn Him out? I can imagine it could, but no — God created it along with the world and its inhabitants as a gift to man, animals and the land.
A day, 24 hours, of no work — to most people that is a luxury. When I first got a hold of the concept that the Sabbath was to be a blessing for man, and decided to try it, it was difficult. My orientation to life is being productive, efficient, always making progress on projects, never an idle moment. I tried to distract myself with Christian TV shows, Bible study, going to church, napping. But I found I was mostly concentrating on not doing things, instead of enjoying what I was doing without feeling guilty. I had even worked extra hard in order to carve out a day that I could do no work. That was good practice, but it felt more like I was serving the Sabbath, not it serving me.
As I learned more about it, I realized it’s actually about trusting God. We strive all week to get everything done, to not get too far behind, to juggle conflicting priorities or just keep up with our various responsibilities. But God is the source of our lives, He has provided our jobs, our homes, our families — all those things that keep us busy. He doesn’t just give them to us and let us struggle underneath them all on our own. If we will let Him, He wants to bless us with them. That means He has to do some of the work for us. He can get results that we cannot, and in less time than it will take us. But we have to step back and let Him take over. The Sabbath is that day.
In Genesis 2, the Sabbath was designated on the seventh day. In Hebrew terms, the number seven represents completion. God uses it over and over in Biblical history as a symbol of completion and perfection. You could say the Sabbath is the day God completes the work He’s given us. At the end of the sixth day, we can walk away and hand the reins back to Him to complete and bless our offering of work in the things He’s provided us. With it comes an attitude of acknowledging that all we have comes from Him, and He alone is the One that brings it to its perfect fulfillment. Wow – that even makes the first six days a lot easier!
But walking away is hard. It takes a lot of restraint not to automatically do housework, clean up a few loose ends for work, or plan meals for the next week — at least at first. But when you really begin believing that God is your source and trust that not only will He not let you fall, but He can actually finish your work better than you can, that’s when the Sabbath begins to serve you as it was meant to. Freedom from the weight of responsibilities, guilt-free relaxation, anticipation of what God can do when you’re not around, knowing that He’s got better things planned for you that day, no distractions from enjoying your 24 hours — what a luxury, indeed!
“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 in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”