Read Exodus 31 and Mark 12
“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths” Exodus 31:13
Under penalty of death, the Israelites were commanded to keep the Lord’s Sabbaths.
Mitch Triestman, a preacher (and my daughter’s father-in-law) who was saved out of an Conservative Jewish background asked me if I knew which was the most important of the Jewish celebrations. Being a person who thinks he knows something, I smugly said, “Yom Kippur,” thinking he was expecting me to say the Passover. He told me to guess again.
Being a person who thinks he is humorous I said, “How about Christmas? That’s the holiday that generates the money.”
Mitch was not amused. “Shabbot, the Sabbath,” he told me. “Shabbot is the covenant sign God gave to Israel that they would be His people forever.”
We Christians are bewildered about what to do about the Sabbath. The Lord Jesus perfectly kept the Sabbath as He did all of the Law, but He specifically and deliberately did so in a way that was offensive to those in Israel who were particularly keen on keeping the Law to its minutest detail. His Sabbath “breaking” was what evoked the response, “And the Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against Him on how to destroy Him.” Mark 12:13
The idea of the Sabbath is rest. We are told that even God, after He had made the world, “on the seventh day, He rested and was refreshed.” Exodus 30: 17 The Lord, the Almighty, the Omnipotent One who never sleeps or slumbers (Psalm 121:4) rested and was refreshed—amazing!
We have a Christian friend who as a young man got more done in a day then most people could get done in a month. He worked from early in the morning to late into the night. Often he was called out in the middle of the night. He said he averaged about 3 hours of sleep a night. “Better to burn out than to rust out,” he told me. Today he is not in very good shape. Not only is his body falling apart, he’s sullen and angry.
We have a young friend today who, when she was in college, had been involved in every Christian activity. Always she was put into a leadership position which made her especially busy. Since graduating, her Christian busyness has dropped dramatically. She said, “I’m so spiritually dry now.”
My initial thought was she needed find a way to get really busy again. But I wonder if maybe now is her time to rest.
Most Sunday evenings, I’m sort of depressed. Living at a Christian camp, we are busy people. I’m unclear about how the Sabbath relates to a Christian Believer but on Sundays I make an effort not to do whatever could be done later. Often I am by myself, and I let my mind take its own direction. “Does the Lord really love me?” I wonder. “Who do I think I am, anyway? Am I for real?”
Like Elijah, as I just sort of sit, the Lord lets me know that my life is not all about me. It’s about Him. He lets me know there are lots of others out there, like myself, busy and well occupied in His work. And He lets me know He still has work for me to do. (see I Kings 19).
On Monday morning I’m rested and refreshed. I’m ready to get back at it.
Question: The Sabbath was the Israelites great privilege. It was also their great obligation. As Christian Believers how do we obey the truths of the Sabbath?