There are two kinds of people in this world: Rule-followers and Rule-rebellers.
The kind of person you are is manifested quite early in life. I’m thinking of my kids now. One of them is a rule-follower, like me. We like the rules, take comfort in them, and like knowing the boundaries. We like to follow the rules and enjoy the praise that usually comes when we do. One of my other children is like her father: a rule-rebeller. They like to know the rules and then do whatever they can to not fully obey the rule. In fact,if it is something they should do, that is expected of them, they probably won’t do it at all. That’s the rebellious side of them!
God has a set of rules for us too: The Ten Commandments.
Almost everyone in this country would say they have heard of them, and I bet most people could even name a few and agree with them as great guidelines for life. You know, like, “You shall not murder. You shall not steal. You shall not lie” (Exodus. 20:13,15, 16, NIV). Those are some rules that most of us can get on board with. They are part of the moral code that our country still upholds.
But if we take a closer look at the Ten Commandments, we will see that God’s rules were not given because He wants to control us. Quite the opposite. It comes back to relationship. Parents, why do we give our children rules? Because we love them and want what’s best for them, right? That was God’s intention with the Ten Commandments. He knows what’s best for us and wants to keep the relationship with us open and intimate. And since we’re specifically talking about rest in this blog series, we’re going to look at why resting, or keeping the Sabbath is for our own good.
Exodus 20 lists all ten commandments. It is interesting to note that God uses the most verses to explain the fifth command, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.” Here is the entire four verses.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor 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. – Exodus 20:8-11, NIV
On my last blog post, we talked about the importance of rest and the example that God provided by resting on the seventh day. If you missed it, click here!
This week, let’s look at the “keeping it holy” part. Holy means “set apart, sacred, or dedicated to God.” So in short, God wants us to set one day aside that belongs to Him. When we set aside one day as “God’s day,” we’re obeying God and following His very example. God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. Hebrews 4 calls it “entering God’s rest.” Hebrews 4:1 says, “God’s promise of entering His rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it” (NLT).
The book of Hebrews was written after Jesus died on the cross and set us free from the Law. In other words, we don’t have to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly to be saved! Praise God! But the author of Hebrews tells us taking a Sabbath day is still necessary. I love how it explains it as “entering God’s rest.” God is peace. God is calm. God is true rest for both our bodies and our souls. How sad that some of us miss out on it!
Keeping the Sabbath Today
Attending church is one way to experience God’s rest and keep the Sabbath holy. Enjoying communion with other believers brings us encouragement and refreshing. God knew we’d need that. Church is also a time of intentionally hearing the Word of God and learning more about Him. If your church does not open the Bible every Sunday, might I encourage you to look somewhere else?
Avoiding work is the other part of keeping the Sabbath day holy. We talked about that last week, so I won’t repeat myself. I think the Sabbath is a great time to catch up with family. Often times, the work/school week is so busy and has everyone running in a thousand different directions. Sunday is the time to reconnect and enjoy time together as a family doing whatever you love to do. Some watch football! That’s great! Some families go hiking. Also good! Some take naps! Praise the Lord!
Bottom line is this: your Sabbath should look different than the other six days of the week.
For my family, our day is Sunday. But it’s okay if your day is not Sunday. All that matters is that you set aside one day and dedicate it to God.
Don’t miss out on experiencing God’s rest. It’s not about the rules, it’s about our relationship with God. Set some time aside for Him today.