So much of our forgotten Christian heritage is contained in God’s calendar with days of rest, days of blessing and days of repentance and return. The day on God’s calendar that corresponds to the Gateway into the Tabernacle is God’s personal invitation to enter into His Sabbath rest. This is an invitation to hear God’s Word and to respond, this is God’s sacrament of Invitation issued to everyone who will come and be a part of God’s Kingdom. The Sabbath is the first of the festivals on God’s calendar, and we are commanded to come to Him in rest at least one day every week.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days are for labor in which to do all your work but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD YOUR GOD. You will not work in that day; Neither will your son, nor your daughter, not even the men and women who are your servants, nor your cattle, nor the stranger who is staying with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” Exodus 20:8-11.
This is the fourth commandment. It is part of the Ten Commandments. As a Christian, do you love God? I hope your answer is yes. Do you murder others? I hope that your answer here is no. This isn’t some idle questioning: It’s curious to me that so many would follow God’s instructions in one or two very important things, but would completely disregard His direction in another, equally important area on the same list. Is it your intention to disregard God and the loving covenant that He wants to bring all of His children into? …Or do you want all that God has for you?
The Sabbath was made by God as a loving gift for His people. It is a special time set apart by God Himself for God and His people to enjoy together. A day in which we rest from the busy-ness of the other days of the week in order to delight ourselves in the lover of our souls and to honor Him. In our hectic modern lives, when we need rest perhaps more than anything else, we are told that to keep a day of rest is “dead works”. In our day when the world races around us so furiously, and all we need is a moment of peace, we are told that to keep the Sabbath is legalism. How did this happen?
The deception has crept into the Western Church under a plausible logic. If we were to observe a set of laws in which Christ is not central, if we were to insist on keeping a collection of meaningless rules to follow, it is true: this would be legalism. This logical tightrope is not what God had in mind in setting aside a time for He and His people to enjoy together. If we are not enjoying a Sabbath of resting and delighting ourselves in the Lord, in our friends and our family, the critics are right: it is simply an act of works. But If we are taking a Sabbath of rest and enjoyment, if we are delighting ourselves in the Lord, if we are spending much-needed quality time with our friends and our family, this cannot be an act of works; it is a wellspring of life! It is the enemy of our souls who has perverted God’s loving commands, actively holding up his perversion of what God intends for our good – and pushing it within the household of God as a reason to dispense with God’s Word! In this way he has attempted to turn the Sabbath into the chief example of legalism.
But may it never be so! God intends so much benefit for His people by giving us a Sabbath day. We have, conversely, paid such a heavy price for rejecting God’s commanded Sabbath.
God’s Sabbath is a special time to remember and to practice creation, and re-creation! God created everything, and then rested on the Seventh day and blessed it. The Sabbath, then, is a chance for us to take up our own power of creativity – as we are created in the image of God – and exercise our creative and re-creative abilities in ways that we have no time for during the rest of the week. Create as an avenue to resting in God! Use your creativity to tap into the prophetic word, and express it in new ways! Use the power of creativity as recreation, and use it to honor God on His Sabbath day.
God’s commanded Sabbath reminds us that we need to place our lives into His care, and rest in Him. It reminds us that righteousness and salvation come by faith in Him alone, and not through the work of our hands. The Sabbath itself is a sign that it is GOD who sanctifies us– not we ourselves Ezek. 20:12.
On the Sabbath we put aside all our work, no matter how important it seems for our day-to-day life, and rest. We rest in Christ. A true Sabbath is an active participation in the fact that we are depending upon Christ and not ourselves.
The Sabbath reminds us that we need to seek first the kingdom of God, and all the necessities of life will be added to us. It reminds us that our Creator desires us to be happy and blessed – that He wishes to recreate us in rest, and renew us in joy, and in this way He restores His image in us.
The Sabbath points forward to the time where Jesus will establish His throne in the earth and usher us into His thousand year reign of peace and rest – the Sabbath rest of the ages! The One Who created all things, will again make all things new. He lives in resurrection power, and He wants us to enter into that same eternal life right now.
The Sabbath is regarded by Jewish celebrants as the Queen of Days; it is a special date with the Lover of our souls. When we are in love, our lover sets aside a day when he or she takes time off. They set aside household chores. They set aside mundane tasks. They ask, “Will you spend this special day together with me?”
How exciting it is for a couple in love to enjoy a day all to themselves. Whether they enjoy elaborate plans together, or just spend time lying in the shade of a tree – it doesn’t matter, the important thing is that they get to spend every moment together. Every breath they take, they take it together. Every thought is shared, and every experience is savored. This is the Sabbath day that God dreams of spending with you. He wants to love you. He wants to give you all of Himself.
In the same way, those who love God look forward to the Sabbath with joy, knowing all their business and “rat race” duties will be set aside, and a whole day will be spent “delighting in Him”.
God says: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken” Isaiah 58:13, 14.