“Our inability or lack of desire to rest and Sabbath is rooted in the sin of idolatry.”
Sabbath. We know we need it. We know we should do it. It is for my benefit, not my hindrance and yet, we seldom do it. It would make sense for how busy we are to simply say “Can’t do it, the Lord blessed me with the need to Sabbath” whenever our lives get too stacked up, yet we fill rather than empty. In the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, the Sabbath is commanded in verses 8-11. God through Moses says, “On [the Sabbath] you shall not do any work.” (NIV). The Bible contains many things that we need to work diligently to understand and grapple with, however, this is not one of them. It is remarkably clear. You shall not do any work. If I can paraphrase, “Pick one day a week, don’t work on that day.” Pretty simple, right? Then why do we run the opposite way? The answer is very clear in Scripture: sin. Our inability or lack of desire to rest and Sabbath is rooted in the sin of idolatry. We replace God’s command, His sufficiency, His availability, with cheap imitations. We go to sporting events, we fall into bad habits because we do not make a plan for our days off. We watch 13 hours of a show on Netflix. We overeat. We do not take the opportunity to read our Bibles. We flip through social media until we are comfortably numb from constant stimulus. The Sabbath offers us an alternative to this hustle. The mystery of the Sabbath is not something that a blog post can wrangle, but here are three reasons why the Sabbath is a welcomed alternative to the version of life we currently live.
1. We need rest. Moses said “For in six days the LORD made… but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” You need to take a break. Maybe no one has told you that in a while, but you need a break. But not an idle, couch potato rest because that is not rest, that is slothfulness.
2. We need to hear from God. I have heard more times than I can count a version of the following statement: “The Bible just doesn’t really speak to me. I don’t understand it. I just cannot make time for it.” This is because we rarely take the time to sit still long enough for our brains to stop trying to figure things out, and allow God to speak to us through His Spirit. Devotionals, commentaries, or asking a smart friend are not substitutes for listening directly to God. These resources are aids and should be used with appreciation, but consider the last 50 times you have read your Bible. How much time is spent quietly listening for the still small voice of God? Imagine if you dedicated a day per week (Sabbath) listening for God like you would listen for your number at the DMV. Attentive. Eager. Perhaps with a slight annoyance for the length it takes. (If you do not agree with me, read the Psalms.)
3. We need to distance ourselves from the world. This world is not great. I will leave it at that because we all have an idea of why that statement is true. Christians are not called to be removed from the world, but simply not to love or to be of it. The world’s rhythms are demanding, brutal, and unforgiving. You do not need its rhythms. You should not want its rhythms. We should continually set our minds on things that are above. (1 John 2:14-16, John 14:17) As Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How do we renew our minds? By honoring the command to take a Sabbath, to listen attentively for God’s voice, and to endeavor to allow the Sabbath to become a sacred rhythm in your life.
Sabbath is an open invitation, ready for you at any moment. I would highly recommend The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer for more information on the practice of slowing and incorporating Sabbath into your daily routine.