“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you… Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord… Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:13-17
After 12 chapters of specific laws for Israel regarding their worship, treatment of others, festivals, instructions for the tabernacle and all its furnishings, the consecration of the priests, the Lord places an exclamation point, “Above all.” Every ear, having taken in these careful and intricate directions, now hears the climax, “Keep the Sabbath.” What? You give me all these things to do and want me to rest? But how will I be able to get everything accomplished? How will I fit this all in?
Isn’t this our bent? We think we’re so necessary, indispensable, that we wouldn’t dare stop the treadmill of busy, of orchestrating our children’s lives, of toiling endless hours into the night and doing good in the church and our community at every opportunity. We add work to work, we pack our schedules because it’s all important, and the earth might stop spinning if I don’t do my part. And often our labor is void of joy and peace. But all-wise God has instituted a Sabbath for us, modeling it when He completed his creation. He knows that while we were made to work, we were also made to rest— each is vital and interdependent on the other. (Genesis 2:2-3,8,15,19)
What does a Sabbath do? It reminds us Who we are working for. It reminds us what we are living for. It reminds us that we labor in vain unless the Lord is building our house. It provides us time to reset our affections, our allegiances, our goals, our perspective of the big picture. It removes our hands long enough to remember Who is really in control. It gives us time to gaze in delight and gratitude at our Savior in all His splendor, to linger in worship and to meditate on high truths that matter for eternity. This earth and life are fleeting, but His word and His glory will last forever. The Sabbath sets aside for us hours to enjoy and be renewed by fellowship, and rest, to nourish and rejuvenate our souls and bodies, to be refilled with His Spirit. The Sabbath teaches us that it is God Almighty Who is doing the real and highest and lasting work of sanctifying us. (Leviticus 20:8; Psalm 127:1; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 5:18; Philippians 2:13)
Father, You know what is best for your children, and You have punctuated Your law with the importance of Your Sabbath rest. Please help me every week to lay down my lists, my schedule, my tools, to rest in You. Renew me in Your truth and character to make efficient and eternally effective my thinking and doing, for Your glory.