By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. –Genesis 2:2-3
One of the most valuable disciplines I’ve incorporated into my life is keeping a Sabbath. It’s a practice that many people have encouraged me to do for a long time, but I finally put it in recently.
Let’s look at what the Bible says about the Sabbath. Keeping a Sabbath is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. One of my professors pointed this out: if you read Exodus 20, the commandment to keep a Sabbath has the most elaboration out of all of them, spanning four verses. Obviously this was very important to God. He commanded the Israelites not to do any work on the seventh day, keeping it holy.
God set an example for us in Genesis 2, resting after creating the heavens and the earth for six days. God didn’t rest because needed it! God does not get tired. But setting an example, He set aside the day as a holy day and commands the Israelites to do the same. It is doubtful that the pagans—the nations around them kept a Sabbath. This was one of the practices that identified the Israelites as God’s people.
If we read the creation account of Genesis 1-2, we see that there are only two days out of the seven that contain the definite article “the”. For the first five days, each day is described one day, a second day, a third day, a fourth day, and a fifth day. Only the sixth day (1:31), the day that God created man, and the seventh day (2:1), the Sabbath, are described with the definite article, an emphasis that gets lost or overlooked in some English translations of the Bible.
So we see that the Sabbath is important to God! Why should we keep the Sabbath in our modern day as Christians? You’ve heard of getting some R&R? Well, let’s look at the “R&R&R” of the Sabbath!
First, it provides a time to relax. Our lives are so busy because we try to do everything by our own strength. To the Israelites, Keeping a Sabbath meant trusting that God will take care of everything we need to do in six days of the week. The Israelites worshipped God on this day, a day that they could have been doing more work.
Second, it provides a time to reflect. How often do we step back and recount how faithful God has been in our lives? Sabbaths give us opportunities God gives us to worship Him by reading His word, meditating on His truth, and remembering how much He has provided for us!
Third, it provides a time to relate. Can we set aside Sabbath time to spend time with those we love? This starts with spending time with God. We relate to God by interacting with Him through Scripture and prayer. We also take the Sabbath to spend time with family and friends, enjoying the relationships that God has given us.
I encourage everyone to take Sabbath time! It is not only important and honoring to God, it really is a helpful practice! I find that God has provided this time, and as I give some back to Him, he has made me more energetic, more appreciative of Him, and my other six days are more efficiently managed!
How would the Sabbath look in your life? It doesn’t have to be the seventh day of our calendar week (Saturday). My Sabbath is on Friday.
On my Sabbath I set aside any schoolwork and ministry work. I focus on R&R&R, and I just have a day dedicated to honoring God. I keep a Sabbath regularly and keep it free of distractions.
For some of you, taking a whole day off per week may not be realistic. It doesn’t have to be a day. It can be a “Sabbath hour” each day where you can have some R&R&R. Or you can take an afternoons on Sunday. While God commands it, the Sabbath is given for our benefit. Jesus said: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
However you approach it, remember that the Sabbath is a time that we set aside in worship to God as we rest, reflect, and relate. As we honor God, may we continue to see how He blesses us in return!