«

»

Jul 27

Rest

The fourth commandment out of the Ten Commandments (from Exodus 20:8-11) is as follows.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

I get the feeling that modern day Christians take this commandment least seriously. I mean, we quiver and shake when we think about murder, stealing, committing adultery, giving false testimony – even many non-Christians too. We strive to keep our God the only god in our life, to throw away idols, to not misuse the name of the Lord, and to honour our father and mother. But, in a contemporary 5-day working week, how does the faithful Christian keep the Sabbath day holy?

What Does it Mean?

The Christian Sabbath is Sunday, which is the Lord’s day (or the resurrection day of Jesus).*

How do you think of Sundays? Would I be correct in assuming that Sundays are thought of – beginning with religious habit of church in the morning (or afternoon/evening service if you’re young and hip), followed by lunch with family or friends (or even church friends!), and then doing whatever you didn’t get to finish on Saturday that you needed to get done by the weekend (catching up with your high school friend, mowing the lawn, finishing that assignment due on Monday, or the last bit of paperwork from Friday afternoon). Plus Sunday arvo naps (one of my personal favourites), that’s your Sunday wrapped up with a bow, and it’s back to Monday.

Would you be surprised if I said that God’s plan and desire for us to spend the Sabbath is far from this?

In the Old Testament it says God blessed and hallowed (made holy) the seventh day because “on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.” God’s rest did not represent a self-indulgent laziness, nor a spare opportunity that we often associate with our Sundays. That God rested meant He was satisfied with the beauty in his work of creation, and in turn his commandment for us to rest is for us to be satisfied with our creator, and to give reverence to all He is and all He has done. So, while Monday to Saturday we work, on Sunday God wants us to stop all things and focus purely on Him. By resting, we give God our special attention, and are reminded weekly that all we have come from God’s grace, not by our works.

But We’re Not In the OT Anymore!

It was a capital offence back in the day to do any work on the Sabbath. You could get killed! But what about now? Let’s have a look at the New Testament then.

In Romans 14, there was a disagreement within the church. Some were saying “all days are holy and belong to the Lord!” and others were saying “no, this day (or a particular day) was special and dedicated to the Lord!” and Paul wrote to them and said one very important thing: “One man keeps it to the Lord; another is free to the Lord. Let both honor the Lord.”

Although we can now pick up sticks without being put to death, our commandment is still to honour the Lord. So when we don’t give any thought or special attention to the Lord’s day, we are probably not considering how we can honour Him. When we think of Sunday as just another day of the week and continue to marathon through movies, or socialise at parties, we are not setting it apart for the Lord. Nor are we necessarily resting our minds and our souls.

How Do We Do It?

God doesn’t discount the Sabbath in the New Testament, rather he ordains one day out of seven to be a day of rest. This means that we should do things on this particular day that refresh us for His service – intellectually, physically, and spiritually. If you have sat at your desk all week, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a walk or ride a bike on Sunday. If you worked on the farm all week, take a bath or a long nap. The point is you take one day in seven, set it aside, and set it as the day to physically recharge yourself.

If you’re not sure how to do this, you can pray at the beginning of the day for the Lord to energize you through the activities that you have planned for the rest of the day. Here are some things you can ask yourself and think about, as well as remind yourself to do on this special day:

(1)    Corporate worship

The New Testament talks a lot about not giving up on meeting one another and encouraging each other, as well as praying together and worshipping God together.

(2)    Limiting secular involvement

The holy day is a special day, and it is made special when we restrain ourselves from immersing in secular activities. It’s not about drawing lines, and saying we can’t do this, or we can’t do that. It’s completely about the way you respect and honour the Lord – that you would give up filling yourself with games or movies (which, in my view, do not develop our relationship with God), but rather, the peace of God.

(3)    Am I thinking about something or someone else more than God?

Do you have your mind set on something on the Sabbath day more than God? It could be our weekly dose of touch footy, or to try out new restaurants with our boyfriend/girlfriend rather than save it for God? Do you look forward to the end of intimate moments with God so that you can start intimate moments with others?

(4)    Has this been like any other day? Do I feel rested or exhausted?

All days are blessings and God-given. However, the Sabbath is a special day made by God for the purpose of rest. If, by the end of this special day, you feel even more weary and stressed, the day did not serve its purpose, and the things that happened did not lead you to have a restful time with God.

Depending on what we do, what we think, and what we hear on Sunday, we can honour the Lord or we can ignore Him. It is not up to us to look over our neighbour’s fence to see what they are doing, but to look at our own backyard and our own homes to see where God is calling us to rest, and where He is calling us to worship Him.

I pray that we can encourage one another to observe the Sabbath in this way.

Simon Lan

 

*For more info, look up Wiki or come have a chat.