"Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day." (Deuteronomy 5:15, NLT)
"Once slaves." Once slaves is what every born-again believer once was. We were formerly slaves to sin, spiritually dead, without hope. But God sent His son, Jesus! And, Jesus came and delivered us! He brought freedom, life, and hope to a bound and oppressed people. By the strength of His strong hand and powerful arm, He delivered all who called on His name! Thanks be to God!
For this reason, God commanded the freed children of Israel to rest on the Sabbath. They were to cease all labor, pull away from their work, and keep the day God had blessed and declared holy. This was for their good. It would be their time to draw near to God and remember His Word, His ways, and how much He loved them.
It is no different in our day. God still desires believers to join Him on the Sabbath so that we may be refreshed, supernaturally empowered, and remember Jesus, who delivered us! The Sabbath was created for man. That will never change. It is the Word of God. As we abide in Jesus, our Sabbath rest, we too are to pull away from all our labor and meet with Him. As we cease our labor and enter into His rest, we see the 'work' of Christ, finished on the cross, and are humbled! Salvation's rest.
"And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath." (John 5:16, ESV)
Either Jesus or the Jews were incompatible with the Sabbath. And since Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, I am voting that the Jews were incompatible with the Sabbath. The Jewish leaders reached the point that they were ready to kill Jesus for doing good on the Sabbath. If God created the Sabbath, and He did, I would say that murder probably disqualifies you from being one who honors the Sabbath well.
What makes us incompatible with the Sabbath? Our hearts.
If your heart is going through the motions of being godly, if you are quick to judge others, if you are living a double standard, if you value possessions more than people, if you make life harder rather than easier for others, if you are doing more harm than good towards others—you are incompatible for the rest of God.
What makes us compatible with the Sabbath? Our hearts.
If you are a God-lover, if you are merciful to others, if you do good to others, if you invite others into God's rest, if you free people of demonic strongholds and save life, you are compatible with Sabbath rest.
Those who love God and keep His commandments are more than compatible with God! They are loved, received, refreshed, restored, and filled with God's life. Their fruit will testify to their eagerness to enter God's rest.
“for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” (Hebrews 4:10, ESV)
The Sabbath cannot be reduced to just not working! If it is, we have missed the whole point of the Sabbath. Vacation will not, nor can it, bring about a revival of the spirit man. Yes, the natural man can be somewhat refreshed, but your spirit will still be empty if you approach the Sabbath without being intentional about encountering God.
In John five, a lame man encounters Jesus on the Sabbath and Jesus heals the man. Jesus told him to take up his bed and walk. Upon seeing the man walking with his bed, the Pharisees told him to stop, as that was not lawful. The healed man was already resting (in the natural). But when He encountered the Lord of the Sabbath and was healed, his rest went to a whole new spiritual level!
Jesus, in that moment, declares, “My Father is always working, and so am I.”” (John 5:17, NLT) When we enter His rest, by ceasing our works, we have to realize that God is still working. And because He is working while we are resting, we experience His life flowing into us. We are encouraged, valued, and caused to feel refreshed because the Lord of the Sabbath renews our zeal! The goal of rest is revival! I take time to be with Him because when I am with Him, I am revived!
"For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said..." (Hebrews 4:3, ESV)
So many people work for their significance. Work to get a promotion. Work to climb the corporate ladder. Work to have money to buy the toys that turn heads and cause envious smiles. For six days, they work hard for significance. Only to find that those things leave them empty and insignificant.
In the church, so many people work for significance. They work to get noticed. They work to climb the church ladder. They work to receive God's pleasure. All week, they work to find significance only to discover they are empty and feel insignificant.
God had a plan before the beginning began! He would set in place a Sabbath that is significant, so much so that anyone who would cease working, to be with God, would find significance. God's opinion of us matters greatly! He thinks we are all valuable and has made a way for anyone who turns to Him to experience significance and value.
Our real work lies in the work that God has already done. Our work is to believe. "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." (John 6:29, ESV) When we discover that Jesus has already finished the work of our salvation, our work will be to believe in the work He has already done. We will cease working to earn God's pleasure and in faith, we will enjoy God's presence—having found significance in Him!
"And he said, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14, ESV)
After Moses had convinced God that He should accompany them to the Promised Land, God spoke these powerful words. "My presence shall go with you and I will give you rest." The word 'rest' is the Hebrew word ‘nuah’, which means to settle down. Not only does it mean to settle down, but it means 'tranquility, serenity and peace’. It implies that a person looks back, sees where he has come from and what he has accomplished, and is satisfied. It is what God did on the seventh day!
God tells Moses and the children of Israel that His Presence would go with them. The Presence of God is what believers find when they enter the rest of God, or they enter into Jesus, our Sabbath rest. The Presence is the Life of God! When the Presence fills the people of God, the people come alive! The Old Testament picture is the Valley of Dry Bones. When the Presence showed up, the bones came alive. The Presence is the river that Ezekiel saw, and everything it touches lives! When you enter the Sabbath rest, you enter the Presence of God! You cannot help but come out of the Presence filled with life, dripping with life, ALIVE WITH LIFE!
What a promise to Moses and all who love God's Presence and make room for Sabbath Rest in their lives!
"At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, "Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath." (Matthew 12:1–2, ESV)
The Pharisees had a wrong understanding of the Sabbath. They had all these little laws that put obligations on people. Sadly, in our culture, the practice of the Sabbath is seen more as an obligation that creates difficulty, not as a day that would refresh. If you find yourself stressing about what the day needs to look like and how to practice it, you may be approaching the Sabbath as a box that needs to be checked. You are more interested in 'doing' for God than in 'being' with God. Checking a box will not replenish the deep fatigue that so many feel. But, if we can look inward and truly see ourselves, at our core, we might realize that we are genuinely tired. Then, we will look for the refreshing that only God can give.
Our souls find true rest when we believe in Christ Jesus and receive His love. We continue to find rest in Him as we set aside time to regularly enter the Sabbath. As we draw near and give ourselves to the Rest-Giver, He who knows us best touches our lives at a heart level that only He can do. It is there, that we find great mercy. Selah
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, ESV)
Growing up, one of the things I liked to do was go to grandmas. She had a big porch around her house. The porch was the meeting place. If she were sitting on the porch, people would stop, step up on the porch and talk. As kids, the porch was where grandma sat and watched us play. Yes, the porch was the meeting place, intentionally created for friendship and connection.
When I think about God on the seventh day, resting and ceasing all work, I am reminded that God intentionally created a space for friendship and connection with me. Man's first day with God was a day of no labor so that he and God may become best of friends. God wanted man to know Him before man knew about work. God wanted man to know what rest was, before he knew what work was, so that he would always want to return.
We need to make space in our lives, to return to the place God created, so that we might sit with Him, know Him, and be with Him. It was to leave the realm of doing and enjoy the realm of being—with God. Sabbath rest is not about God controlling our schedule. It is about us wanting to be with Him. The Sabbath is like God sitting on the porch waiting for you to come and sit.
“And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Genesis 2:2, ESV)
On the seventh day God finished His work and rested. Evening and morning were the first day. Each day began and finished like that. Each day, God added to His creation more and more things. Everything that God created was for man, the crowning creation event! Every day, God did something magnificent, and it was all being done with man in His heart. Day one, light. Day two, sky and water. Day three, rivers, oceans, lands, trees, and plants! Day four, stars, sun and moon! Day five, fish and bird of every kind! Day six, wild animals, livestock, small animals, and Man, the image bearer of God! Everything that God created was for man!
Wait, that is only six days. What about the seventh day? Was God less intentional on that day? Or was that day set in place by God for a specific and holy reason? The seventh day was the apex of the first week! There would be no work on this day. It was a day for man and God to enjoy each other. It was holy, set apart for the purposes of God. The Sabbath was made for man! Before man knew the animals of creation, God wanted man to know Him so that man could work from God, not for Him
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, ESV)
Matthew 11:28 is one of the most comforting passages found in the New Testament. Why? Because we all have experienced its opposite: tired, weary, depressed, etc. Jesus, in the face of that darkness, declares, "I will give you rest." The word 'rest' as used by Jesus means: "I will cause your work to cease. I will cause you to be refreshed. I will cause you to rest."
Jesus tells us, "If you come to me, I will give you rest; I will cause you to know the richest rest possible." In a roundabout way, Jesus is saying, "I am your Sabbath rest." The rest that God introduces to us in Genesis 2:1-3 and commands us to honor in Exodus 20:8 foreshadows the rest God would provide later in Christ Jesus. Let me say it bluntly: There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus!
Therefore, we no longer have to 'labor' in keeping the law to be justified in God's sight. Jesus did all the work! We just have to come to Him in faith and enter into His rest! Jesus was sent by the Father to provide for us what we could not provide for ourselves—righteousness. What God introduces us to in Genesis 2:1-3 and makes mandatory as a command in Exodus 20:8, Jesus now says, "I am that rest! Won't you enter in?"
Most people familiar with the Bible will recognize Isaiah 58 as the fasting chapter, but there is one verse that we must pay attention to that has to do with keeping the Sabbath.
"Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don't pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord's holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don't follow your own desires or talk idly." (Isaiah 58:13, NLT)
There are four instructions that Isaiah gives us in keeping the Sabbath:
The Sabbath reminds us of who God is and causes us to stand in awe of Him. In that place, we find God and we find rest because we have intentionally entered into the day He created for us.
Bringing Freedom and Life to People and Glory to God!
© 2015 Freedom Christian Center, Inc., all rights reserved.