The word rest in Hebrew is shabbat, from which we get the word Sabbath. Shabbat means “to cease or stop”. There is a time to be active and work. Then there is Sabbath, when you cease that activity, and rest from the things you do the other six days of the week. Of the Ten Commandments - before killing, stealing, or committing adultery – the third calls us to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.”
Why is this resting so important that God blessed it and made it holy? Why is it so critical that Sabbath becomes the third commandment? Biblical commentator Terrence Fretheim writes, “God’s resting is a divine act that builds into the very created order of things a working/resting rhythm.”
There are two components to Sabbath:
- Sabbath is a sanctuary of time to rest in God. Over-commitment, stress, and busyness are so prevalent in our lives. We become preoccupied with these things. Sabbath says, stop and rest in God. Regain the proper perspective. It’s easy to become preoccupied with the creation and not the Creator. Sabbath diminishes all your anxiety, self-importance, and stress by focusing on God’s work. So that you never forget who breathed life into you, and who sustains your life with all that you need, God makes Sabbath part of the rhythm of our week.
This aspect of Sabbath is not just a nap, but “a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Deut. 5:14). It is devotion to God and his Word. God’s people do this as they assemble (Hebrews 10:25) follow the pattern of the earliest Christians (Acts 2:42). It’s this aspect of Sabbath that aligns with Luther’s explanation of the third commandment: “That we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.”
- Sabbath is good, healthy rest. Like sleep, and air, and food, humans need rest. God built into the balance of creation a necessity for rest. Cease from doing work. Enjoy the creation, and the fruit of your work. This doesn’t necessarily mean sitting on the couch and watching TV for four hours. But it may mean a good hobby, time with family/friends, a nap, quietly watching a sunset, walking in a park, or sitting on a porch swing.
Your work has enslaved you. In the name of Jesus, you are freed. Because of the Divine Man Jesus, you can truly work and rest, work and rest, work and rest.
- · Be attentive to an active worship life with the body of Christ.
- · Be devoted to daily “Sabbath,” a regular time of prayer and devotion.
- · Making sure the one day is different than the others.
- · Luther: After the evening prayer, “Then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.” Your work is done. Worry doesn’t change it. God’s got it.
- · Occasionally breaking normal or routine habits.
- · Declaring certain times to be “e-free” - turn off screens and devices!
- · Establishing periods of quiet time in your routine.
- · Scheduling regular vacations.
- · Spending time outdoors, in nature (especially for urbanites).