A Sabbath Rest
Heb. 4:9 So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God;
Heb. 4:10 for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.
Heb. 4:11 Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.
In a very practical sense the followers of Christ were to understand that there still needed to be a Sabbath in their lives. They were no longer strictly following the law of Moses and yet, there needed to be a clear understanding of what it meant to have a sabbath rest. Many of the new Christians were active day in and day out working for the Lord but there needed to be a time when they would rest from all of their work and relax, just as God did in creation. Interestingly working too much could be considered disobedience.
When I was younger my parents had all kinds of rules for Sundays. We weren't allowed to watch television, except sometimes late on Sunday night. We weren't supposed to engage in "regular" activities on that day. I even remember in college feeling terribly guilty if I needed to do a load of laundry or study on a Sunday. I would literally try to put those things off until after midnight just to alleviate my guilt!
But did this kind of behavior lead to a sabbath rest? Yes and No. I'm afraid that these days there is almost no emphasis on a sabbath rest whatsoever. IF people even make time to go to church on a Sunday the remainder of the day is generally booked solid with family, recreational and other activities. I know for many working families it is the day that they need to go grocery shopping and do the laundry. So, in a sense, the crazy legalistic attitude toward a sabbath meant that we actually did have a day which was different from every other day of the week. There was something about the routine of that day that made it completely different and there was something refreshing about that and made it easier to jump into the week ahead. Yet the legalism of it was not freeing and so we have gone to the opposite extreme and I'm afraid there is nothing restful or sacred about a sabbath rest any longer when we live in a time that people need this sabbath rest so desperately.
So, if we are in need of this sabbath rest, how do we come to grips with making it a priority in our lives? First of all let's make it clear that this doesn't have to be on Sunday. The sabbath is actually Saturday and Christians just tend to worship on Sunday because it was the day of Christ's resurrection so, we can have a sabbath rest on a day other than Sunday (or even Saturday). As a minister Sunday is one of the biggest working days of the week! For me to have a sabbath, it has to be on a different day. My husband and I have chosen Monday to be our sabbath. We purposely change up our routine on Monday. We spend time with the Lord, we spend time together, and we get a few odds and ends done but the rhythm of the day is completely different from any other day of the week. We have to enter into this sabbath rest to survive.
There are times when our schedule doesn't allow for this Monday rest. This is especially true if I have been traveling and suddenly after a couple of weeks I discover that my whole life is out of synch. Something is wrong when I don't take the time to have that sabbath rest in my life. I need it to function well both physically and spiritually.
I know this may surprise us but -- God really does know what he's talking about! Every follower of Jesus Christ needs to figure out a way to have a sabbath rest that works for them! God calls us to that rest - and a lack of rest is a sign of disobedience. Let's not allow the world to so encroach on our lives that we cannot live in this obedience to God for we all need a sabbath rest.
Lord, thank you for the times of resting in you. Amen.