Do Not Disturb: Understanding Sabbath

By: Caleb Walden

Have you ever taken a vacation but felt more tired when you returned to work? Or do you feel like your weekend isn’t quite long enough to really rest?

Many of us have been there and tried anything and everything to find better rest only to still feel exhausted. So, the question we are asking today is “What does God’s word have to say about resting well?” God’s word is the instruction manual for how to live life to the full. So, let’s read a few verses together on this topic of rest.

- Genesis 2:1-3 says (ESV) “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

- Exodus 20: 8-11 (ESV) “8 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 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.”

- Mark 2:23-28 (ESV) “23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him:26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

How do we find true rest according to God’s Word? Sabbath. A few points to take away about Sabbath from these verses:

1. The word “Holy” is first applied to the Sabbath.

            Out of everything God could have first called Holy in creation: Nature, Animals, and Humans the first Holy is applied not to a physical thing but a day, a moment in time is Holy. The word Holy means “set apart”. It’s almost as if God is saying the first thing people will notice that is different about you is that you take a whole day off just to celebrate and worship. While everyone else keeps on striving for more you will be content with what you have. While worry dominates the world and causes them to stash away you will have so much peace you can just stop working and worrying. Sabbath is holy and our rest sets us apart.

2. Sabbath is a day to STOP work and CELEBRATE what you’ve done.

For the longest time on my day off it was NO WORK. I didn’t want to speak a word of it. I thought that was rest. But what we see from Genesis 2 is the sabbath is a day to rest from work you’ve “done”. This is a day to stop striving to do more but to also celebrate what you have created with God through work.

3. Sabbath is an escape from CONSTANT PRODUCTION.

In Exodus 20 the Israelites were just coming out of slavery to the eygptians. In Egypt there was no break, no rest, and you always needed to produce MORE. So when Israel becomes their own independent nation God gives them rules, one of them being a sabbath. A day of ZERO PRODUCTION. It was to fight against the way of Egypt. The Sabbath is actually the longest of the ten commandments and I think that means something. Sabbath is important! And we live in a world not so different from egypt. We are all about production, but sometimes we need a break. We need a day to not advance ourselves or think of what we fell short on but to just be and enjoy what we have.

4. Sabbath is for YOU.

Sabbath is for your healing. God doesn’t need you to keep the sabbath for Him. He created it for you. Even Jesus did most of his Healings on sabbath. It was a picture of what this day is for: Your Healing! Like all of God’s commands, if you obey it, you find life.

So what does it look like practically?

Sabbath is sundown to sundown in Jewish Tradition. So what this will look like is you choosing a 24 hour period every week that is best for you and then filtering everything you do during that time through these two questions: Is it rest? Is it worship? If the answer is yes to both questions then do it. As you continue this practice week to week you will start to step into true rest.