Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 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, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11
As I have been studying up on the Sabbath, what it means to keep it, how we should keep it, etc., I have found that there are MANY different opinions on when a person’s Sabbath should be and what it should look like. We gather for our church services on Sunday because that is the day Christ rose from the dead. However, there is no no clear command for the day of rest to be on any specific day. What we DO know is that days of Sabbath rest are a necessity for the believer (see Sabbath Part 1).
This week we will focus on what exactly is done on the Sabbath, whatever day that may be for you. It’s clear in Exodus 20:8-11 that the Sabbath is more than just a day off. It’s purpose is to worship the Living God, hence the phrase in verse 8: “keep it holy” and verse 9: “but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.”
Kenneth Laing Harris comments on this passage: “Every aspect of Israel’s life is to reflect that the people belong to the Lord and are sustained by His hand. The weekly pattern of work and rest is to be part of this.”
In short, taking a day of Sabbath rest is an act of worship, acknowledging that every good and perfect gift is from Him and Him alone.
So we know we’re supposed to keep a Sabbath and we know it is an act of worship. But what does it practically look like? In a short video Pastor John Piper answers the question “What does it mean practically to keep the Sabbath day holy?” In this video he briefly mentions areas we should focus on during our Sabbath:
1. Intellectual: Our tendency is to become brain-dead on the Sabbath. Resting is NOT the same as wasting time. Paul tells us to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16). Though there is nothing wrong with kicking back and watching a movie or some T.V., 5 hours in front of a T.V. is difficult to call ‘Worship.’ Carve out some time to read a good book or reflect on life with a pen and paper in hand.
2. Physical: Go for a hike, or take a nap, or both. Go for a walk with your family or alone. Our spiritual well-being is tied to our physical health. God has often used a walk in the park or a simple breath of fresh air to awaken my heart to His goodness.
3. The Family: I added this to Piper’s list. Talking specifically to Dad’s here, your day off is not for you to completely tune out from your family. You are the pastor of your wife and children. Take this time to teach them the importance of the Sabbath, catch up on the previous week’s events. Take your kids out individually for one-on-one time. Lead a time of family worship.
4. Spiritual: I would recommend beginning your day with a focus on this aspect. Nourish your soul with the word of God and prayer. Remind yourself of the importance of the Sabbath, asking God to make the day one of worship instead of selfishness.
As we continue to talk about the Sabbath I want to constantly remind you of the dangers of religion in all this. We must know that our true Sabbath is Jesus Christ. He is the one who accomplished what we could not; redemption from sin. He is the one who said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) signifying the perfection and ultimacy of his forgiveness. He is the one who is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 10:12). We have ultimate rest in him.
We will look more at Christ as our Sabbath next week.