Our Sabbath: A time to focus energies on the Lord
And [Jesus] said to them “the Sabbath was created for people, not people for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
The concept of Sabbath rest can be found throughout Scripture. It first appears in Genesis 2:2-3 when God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because He rested from His work on the seventh day. It’s expanded in Exodus 23:10-11 when the people are instructed to allow the land to rest on the seventh year. Then in the following verse the people of God are instructed to observe the Sabbath day of rest, not just for themselves but also for their animals. Fast forward to the New Testament, Jesus taught on the concept of Sabbath several times throughout the Gospels. In fact the Hebrew word Shabat is used one hundred and eleven times in the Old Testament and the Greek word Sabbaton is used sixty eight times in the New Testament. It is clear this concept of Sabbath rest is extremely important throughout the Bible.
Sabbath rest is something that God has prescribed to us. God understands that none of His creation can function without rest. Jesus reiterated this when he exclaimed, “the Sabbath was created for people, not people for the Sabbath.” The problem is we have become a society of either complete busyness or complete laziness with not much in between.
If we are busy we feel like we always are doing something. We work five days a week and run around constantly on the weekends. We spend time running our kids around, working in the yard or running errands. There is never a time to rest. For those of us who do attend church it is another stop in our weekend of errands.
The problem is we cannot possibly hope to sustain this. We need time to rest, but not just a rest of laziness where we sit around reading a book or watching TV. We need the kind of Sabbath rest that God designed for us.
So what is God’s designed Sabbath rest look like?
Entering a time of Sabbath rest is resting from all of your works, your business, as God rested from His works (Hebrews 4:10).
It is a day when we are called to do God’s good works (Matthew 12:9-13). But most of all Sabbath rest is a time when we break away from the things of this world and focus all of our energies on God.
Sabbath is a time when we are treated to focused worship of God, when we get to slow down, set aside the cares of the world, and focus only on God.
The author of Hebrews warns us, if we do not take time to rest in Christ’s Sabbath then we are vulnerable to all sorts of disobedience (Hebrews 4:11). If we are willing to ignore this directive given by God to rest, something that has no other purpose than to benefit us, how easy is it for us to give up on other instructions that God has given us? So do not forget to keep the Sabbath, and make it holy because the Sabbath was created for you, you were not created for the Sabbath.
Pastor Rich Wilkinson Jr. is of the Free Methodist Church of Gloversville and the Free Methodist Center for Hope at 33 Bleecker.