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Today is day 7 of the Bible reading challenge. How incredibly apt that today we are talking about Sabbath rest truths.
Such a beautiful word, “rest.” I don’t know about you, but I get so weary sometimes and I just need to rest.
What is a ‘Sabbath Rest’?
The literal translation of the Hebrew word for Sabbath (‘sabat’) means to cease working or rest.
The very first example is set by the Lord Himself. After 6 days of Creation, God rested on the 7th day.
In Exodus 20:8-11, God commands the nation of Israel to honor a Sabbath rest on the 7th day of each week. In fact, it’s the 4th commandment. That shows how highly God prizes rest; He Himself rested and He directs His chosen people to do the same.
In Exodus 31:12-17, these intsructions are repeated. And yet again in Exodus 35:1-3. If you keep reading through the Old Testament, you see it again and again. It’s a “covenant forever.”
4 Sabbath Rest Truths
The Old Testament consequence for breaking the Sabbath was death.
Today, many people go into work on a Saturday or Sunday (or any day you pick as your Sabbath) and work and many parents are cooking for their families or picking up toys, and no one is dropping dead or getting stoned for it.
However, Jesus was very clear that He didn’t come to abolish the Law but to fulfill it, so we need to look for what the Sabbath rest looks like for Christians today.
Just as Jesus expounded on the fact that having hate in your heart toward someone is murder and lust toward someone is adultery, I submit to you that honoring the Sabbath starts in the heart.
Hebrews 4:1-11 helps us understand this just a bit more. In this passage we learn that:
- Sabbath rest is important. Hebrews 4:1 reminds us that rest still exists and the author of Hebrews says he fears some will not experience it.
- Sabbath rest is for those who have faith in God. Hebrews 4:3 says only those who believe in God can enter His rest. This makes perfect sense with what we are about to see.
- Sabbath rest is for today. Hebrews 4:7 says, “So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today.”
- Sabbath rest is special for the people of God (4:9), it does mean to rest from our labor (4:10), and we need to do our best to enter into it (4:11).
The most important of all Sabbath rest truths is found in the fulfillment of the law.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ~Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
In the Message this is described as living in the unforced rhythms of grace, and I love that mental picture. Can you picture, my sweet friend, what your life would be like if you lived it in the gentle, unforced rhythms of grace?
In John 15:4, Jesus calls us to come abide with Him, or live in Him. We are literally called to live in Him, the One whose yoke is easy and who give rest for our souls.
In Psalm 23 we learn about the shepherd (and Jesus is the Great Shepherd) who leads us beside calming streams, who makes us lie down, and who refreshes us. (More on that HERE!)
Don’t you just want to curl up in Jesus’ arms and let Him take you to that place, sweet friend?
How Can I Honor the Sabbath Rest Today?
To honor the Sabbath rest today, we don’t follow an extreme list of rules while fearing death if we cook breakfast for our family before Church or sweep the crumbs up off the floor after the meal. That’s not what it’s saying.
To honor that rest today, take a break from the contant state of doing and pause. Read the Word, pray, be fully present. Live in Jesus.
Instead of being a rule, Sabbath rest is an invitation. It is one of God’s best for us. It’s an opporunity to lay our weary hearts at His feet and let Him restore and refresh us. It’s an opportunity to stop striving, and accept the gift of grace.
It’s for you today, sweet friend.