When it comes to the Sabbath it can be really confusing. In the original language the word Sabbath means “a day to cease from work”. I remember when I was a kid that most of the stores were closed on Sunday and it forced most people from commercial activity, however, today it is more odd for a store to be closed on Sunday.
I read an article about the first train in Scotland in 1842 running on a Sunday and people from local churches protested the train. One pastor is quoting as referring to the passengers on the train as people who bought “tickets to hell” because they were riding the train on a Sunday.
It doesn’t help when we look in Scripture and see Jesus seems to ignore the Sabbath, and there are a few passages in the New Testament that seem to discourage us from observing days, weeks, or season and as a result the Sabbath can be really confusing.
However when we look at Scripture we see that God created us to experience rest and we see that early on in Genesis where He creates the first 6 days and on the 7th day He rested. He didn’t rest because He was tired, but to show a pattern to humanity, a rhythm of working and resting.
Exodus 20 we see God give us 10 commandments and the fourth one is to keep the Sabbath and make it holy. We tend to want to overlook that one, but just in case we see it again in the gospels we Jesus tells us the Sabbath was created for man. It is a gift. A gift of rest.
Our culture tells us when we want to get rest that we need to go on a vacation. We need to get away. However, if we have been working 7 days a week for 3 months then getting away for 3-4 days isn’t going to make a difference. We need rhythm. We will most likely resist the nature of the Sabbath because we feel too busy and too personally attached to our responsibilities. As if we were the ones that was keeping the world turning.
The Sabbath helps us to experience two principles of rest:
1. When we take a day to pull away from responsibility then we can physically and tangibly model the trust we have in God. He is the one responsible for all 7 days and taking the Sabbath is one way to model that trust.
2. When we take a day to Sabbath we not only pull away, but we lean in closer to Jesus. The Sabbath isn’t to sit around and stare at each other but to increase our desire for Him and enhance our appreciation for His work.