Six & 1 (pt 1): He said STOP!

He’d been at it all day every day for the last 6 days in a row. He’d accomplished everything he’d set out to do that week, and some of the goals were pretty momentous. Everything he’d done the past several days had built up to this moment…Now all that was left was to stop, rest, and enjoy everything he’d accomplished.

…. And So…God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day He rested from all of His work of creation. ~ Genesis 2:3

I think our culture is tired, our families are tired, our church members are tired, our pastors are tired…We ARE ALL tired more than we have ever been. We have all these gizmos and gadgets, microwaves and drive through, DVRs and downloads, e-mails and messengers; all things that are supposed to give us more time to rest…but for some reason we still don’t.

Tiredness is not just a physical condition, it affects our judgment, our decisions, our relationships, and spiritual health. When we are tired we take the path of least resistance compromising our values and forsaking our dreams. Our closest relationships suffer because we lack the energy or desire to invest in them. In our efforts to compensate for personal disappointment, in our lack of accomplishments and to avoid tackling some personal issues; we charge full steam ahead faster and harder, hoping to find the fulfilling reward somewhere ahead of us….but wind up empty-handed and disappointed. (Man…that is one long sentence.)

In my attempt to read through the bible this year, I am finding that God is concerned about our daily and weekly schedules. He is a God of order and wants our lives to reflect that while accomplishing our endeavors.  However, he’s also just as concerned about our ability to rest as he is about our ability to work (maybe even more so). He EVEN RESTED and intends for us to reflect that as well.

In Exodus 16, God first declares His desire for His people to enjoy a Sabbath… a day of complete rest. God gives them SIX days to gather manna (bread) each morning to eat. On the SEVENTH day he instructs them to stay home, rest, and NOT go out to gather bread or do any work. Sabbath actually means to “cease from work.” Before God gave any of the 10 commandments…He gave them instructions to observe the Sabbath.

I am by no means an expert on this…nor am I observing the Sabbath like I should or want to. It seems like the moment you begin to work in some areas… the harder it becomes.

Here’s what I’ve found God declares about the Sabbath to His people as they wander in the desert….and to us as we wander through life…

1. The Sabbath is a GIFT TO ENJOY – Exodus 16                                                                                    Before their escape, God’s people had been enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years probably without a day off. As part of their “benefit package”, that came with a the renewed relationship, they would now get a day off every week to do nothing. God has given us the Sabbath to enjoy; a day of complete rest from our ordinary work. Every good and perfect gift comes from God. And this is an important one! To not take a Sabbath day of rest is an act of ingratitude.

2. The Sabbath is a COMMAND TO FOLLOW – Exodus 20
Moses is finally bringing down the BIG TEN (and not the college conference.) God has given him a set of directives to follow and pass on. The 4th Commandment isn’t a new one…in fact it’s a reminder from the challenge in Exodus 16. The commandment starts with the word “Remember”, because they’ve already been told once and apparently are failing at following it. God informs His people that He only worked 6 days and rested on the Seventh. In fact, He set the day apart from the others and dedicated it as Holy. This is the first thing that God declares as Holy. Before there was a Holy place or person there was a Holy day. Every time we observe the Sabbath Rest we are taking part in a Holy Moment

3. The Sabbath is a COVENANT REMINDER – Exodus 31                                                                           God reminds the people once more…again to rest on the Sabbath and to keep it Holy. This time informing his people that it is set up to remind us of the covenant between Him and his people for generation after generation. Every time time we observe the Sabbath it gives us a chance to stop and think about our relationship with God and with others. It’s often hard to think about the things that have value in our life when we our constantly running.

Taking a Sabbath…a FULL DAY of COMPLETE rest…I believe could be the antidote to a lot of the stress and worries we have in our society today. If you’re not taking one weekly (like  me), it can be difficult to start.  Don’t worry … I have more to share later on to help us get on the right track!


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