This post has nothing to do with the Sabbath Day as the day the church gathers for worship. I wrote a post a long time ago that shows that is doesn’t matter when we worship (Saturday of Sunday). It could be Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday...you get the point. The important thing is that we worship.
The Commandment about the Sabbath Day says as much about rest as it does anything else, in fact this Commandment is the one with the most written about it. This Commandment tells the Israelites to take a day off.
The Hebrew word shabbāt, translated in English as Sabbath means intermission. It is from a root word, shābat, that means, to repose, i.e. desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, cause; rest, rid, still, take away. According to this, not resting is a sin. It doesn’t matter if your day of rest is Saturday or Sunday or any other day.
The Bible calls those who will not work lazy, Proverbs is full of sayings about being lazy and the circumstances from it.
Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:4-5 NIV
Laziness brings on deep sleep, and the shiftless go hungry. Proverbs 19:15 NIV
The Bible calls those who will not rest disobedient.
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:12-15 NIV
In addition to a Sabbath Day God also commanded a full Sabbath year every seventh year. In the Sabbath Year the land was able to rest from sowing and reaping so that the ground could replenish itself of nutrients.
The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord . For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord . Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. Leviticus 25:1-7 NIV
This post is not about a day or a year.but about shabbāt, an intermission, a time of rest for recovery and regeneration.
The Sabbath is a defense against ministry burnout.
6 Reasons to Keep the Sabbath
by Stephanie Hertzenberg
Saving Sunday for God can help you more than you know.
The seventh day is supposed to be kept holy. The Bible makes it clear that the Sabbath is meant to be a day of rest and prayer. The only work meant to be done is spiritual work through means such as prayer. Most people are aware of this fact, and many are aware that this is where the tradition of a non-working weekend originates. Few people, however, actually avoid work on the Sabbath. They may not go in to the office, but they still do plenty of work. They go to the grocery store or clean the house or pay the bills. This pseudo-rest, however, is not what the Bible meant by “keep the Sabbath holy.”
The Sabbath is meant to truly be a day of rest. It is meant to be a day without work that is not immediately and overwhelmingly necessary. Few people live their lives with a true Sabbath, however, keeping the Sabbath has multiple benefits even in the modern era. Truly observing the Sabbath will allow you to live a more Biblical life. It also has some surprising benefits in this fast paced modern world. Here are six reasons to keep the Sabbath in today’s world.
1. It lets you focus on God instead of squeezing Him into a busy schedule.
If you are like most people, you have a pretty busy schedule. You likely work long hours during the day and try to fit necessities such as grocery shopping, cleaning the house and doing laundry into a few hours after you get home from your job. In those same hours, you are trying to cook dinner, spend time with friends or family and relax a little. Given how little time you have during the week, your weekends are likely packed as well as you try to take advantage of those two work-free days. As a result, God is often put on the backburner and squeezed into the few free moments that crop up between cooking dinner and driving the kids to soccer practice. Keeping the Sabbath allows you to make God the focus of an entire day rather than trying to fit Him in around endless errands and chores that somehow seem more important in the moment.
2. It is good to let your brain and body rest.
People are talking more and more about the importance of taking a break both physically and emotionally. Staying on the go or in “work mode” all the time is hard on a person. When you keep the Sabbath, however, you get an honest break. There is no work to do and no errands to run. There is nothing that you are supposed to be doing but focusing on God. Your mind and body can truly rest for the day instead of worrying about all the things you feel you “should” be doing instead. When you keep the Sabbath, your spirit is nurtured while your body and mind get a much needed break.
3. It can help you reconnect with friends and family.
For all the time and energy most people spend trying to connect with their friends and family, some people actually get very little return on that investment. They race from meeting with one friend to having dinner with a family member. They spend half the time they are with one person keeping an eye on the clock so that they are not late for a meeting with a different friend. This means that they never really get to connect with their friends and family. Instead, they are always watching the clock.
Keeping the Sabbath means that there is nothing to do but connect with God and those close to you. You have no errands to run or work to do, so you can enjoy the time you spend with your friends and family. There is nothing else to distract you or draw your attention away from those important bonds.
4. You might be more focused during week.
How much time do you think you waste in a week? If you are like most people, your answer will probably be “not much.” If you really think about it though, you actually likely waste a great deal of time each day. You spend 10 minutes after breakfast scrolling through Facebook. You have to stay half an hour extra at work to get your report written because you took an extra-long lunch hour that involved playing several levels of mahjong on your computer. You watched half an episode of a reality TV show even though you had no interest in it. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time, much of which people try to make up on weekends. When you keep the Sabbath, though, you have six days with which to get things done, not seven. This forces you to be more productive during the week and really use your time wisely. It is a tricky adjustment to make, but it will make you more.
5. It forces you to slow down.
If you are like most people, you are always on the go. You are running from work to various errands during the week, and even your “relaxing” weekends are jam packed with things to do. You are running from lunch with a friend to Bible study to dinner with your parents. If you have children, you are likely facilitating them in doing the same thing. You are probably driving them from piano practice to a soccer game and then to a friend’s house for a sleep over that night. From dawn until dusk, you are constantly on the go. As a result of this daily chaos, many people forget the value of stillness. Keeping the Sabbath forces a person to be still and to rest. You have to slow down, stop and take a breath. While many people would see this as wasted time, such moments of stillness are essential to avoiding burnout and mental or spiritual exhaustion.
6. You are reintroduced to the idea of self-imposed limits.
Most of the limits you probably deal with in your daily life are externally imposed. You cannot get anything else done in one day because there are not enough hours. You cannot buy anything else because you cannot spend any more money. Even entertainment has become more or less limitless. Binge watching TV shows, for example, has become popular because no one enforces self-imposed limitations. Instead, you watch the show until you have finished it.
Keeping the Sabbath is not something that is an externally imposed limit. There is no one standing outside your door telling you “no, you cannot go do work today.” You have to decide for yourself that you will keep the Sabbath, and you are responsible for enforcing it in your own life. Regaining this sort of self-control will only aid you in other areas of your life. It will also help you remember that there can be too much of a good thing.
Keeping the Sabbath can do more than keep you living a more purely Biblical life. It can help your emotional and mental health as well as your soul. It can help you reconnect with family and friends as well as with God. It can help you stay calm and even help you be more productive during the week.
The idea of giving up a full day is frightening, but the results are worth it. So go mark off this Sunday on your calendar, and tell those chores and errands that they will have to wait until another day. You have an all-day appointment with God.