“Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” I would suspect that commandment prompts one of at least three reactions within most of you; guilt because you know you don’t, pride because you think you do, or apathy because it just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal anymore.
What was God’s purpose for establishing the Sabbath? Obviously he didn’t need to rest after creation, yet he chose to rest and then declared that time as blessed and holy. Why is Sabbath so precious to God?
I saw something I’ve never noticed before, at least not in this way. In the Deuteronomy 5 account of the Sabbath commandment it ends by instructing them to remember that they “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.”
I’ve always connected that with the preceding instruction to include servants in the day off. But what if God also wanted to remind them of the 7-day-a-week brick quotas they had to fill as slaves in Egypt. With that perspective in mind it’s not “I can’t work on the Sabbath”, but rather “You mean I don’t have to work today?”
But why is our resting precious to God? Notice that God specifically reminds them that it was his power and intervention that brought this freedom. I think that the point is for this resting to turn their attention to God. It’s precious, blessed and holy because God created them (us) for intimacy with him, and Sabbath is when that is established and deepened. Analogy time:
When we bought our house we decided to put in a Jacuzzi tub big enough for two in the basement. That was one of the best things we did. Even in a busy household with three teenage boys and their friends, Wendy and I could close the door, fill the tub and have a stay at home date night. We’d soak our weary selves and share with each other the events of our day, discuss hopes and dreams, and fears and concerns. The intimacy we developed there carried us through the routines and schedules of the rest of week.
Sabbath is “date night” with God. I’ve realized I haven’t done Sabbath well. I’m on a journey to discover more deeply what doing it well looks like in my life. It’s not about “have to’s” and “can’ts” it’s about treasuring what he treasures – intimacy with him. I can’t encourage you enough to take that journey for yourself.