God Himself Rested One Day out of Seven
The practice of stopping one day a week—living the life of 24/6 is not a new for humanity. It started the day after human history began. But where did our day of rest go—and can we live without it?
Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” When our Bible says, “the heaven and the earth were finished,” it means that God completed his work of creation as he had planned. And there was nothing more to do to make his creation better. God rested on the seventh day from all the work, not because he was tired, but to set a example for us. He blessed this day and made it holy. The word “holy” means to set apart for a special purpose, like Holy Communion and holy temple. God set apart one day out of seven days so that His people can stop working and rest so that they would have time to worship Him and restore their relationships, priority, and value. Keeping the Sabbath was like pressing on a reset button.
The Fourth Commandment
Dr. Matthew Sleeth writes in his book, “If the Ten Commandments are written on apple pie and you get to choose which slice to have based upon the size, choose the fourth. You will get more than a third of the pie put on your plate. God said in Deuteronomy 5:12-15, “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
- It is the longest commandment out of the Ten Commandments.
- It includes male/female, young/old, citizens/immigrants, domestic animals, and wealthy/poor.
- The Israelites were told to remember that they used to be the slaves in Egypt and how God delivered them with His mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Likewise, God delivered us from our sins through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. That’s why we must also remember and observe the Sabbath Day. One day out of seven days, we must stop working and rest to remember what God has done for us and what He is doing in our lives. Through this, we can live a healthier, happier, and holier lives in this fast faced 24/7 world.
Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath
The phrase “the Lord of the Sabbath” is found in in the Gospel of Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5. What does it mean that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath?” In these verses, Jesus is proclaiming that He is the One who exercises authority even over the rules and regulations that govern the Sabbath day. As such, Jesus was proclaiming to the world, especially to the legalistic Pharisees, that He was greater than the Law and above the laws of the Mosaic Covenant because, as God in flesh, He is the Author of those laws. Unable to keep the Law, however, the Pharisees had instituted a complex and confusing system of Sabbath laws of their own that was oppressive and legalistic. They had set up strict laws regarding how to observe the Sabbath, which included 39 categories of forbidden activities. In essence, these religious leaders had made themselves lords of the Sabbath, thus making themselves lords over the people.
To teach and to correct them, Jesus purposely broke their Sabbath law by healing those who are sick and by helping those who are in need on the day of Sabbath. Because of these, he and the Pharisees had lots of conflict. For example, On a Sabbath day, Pharisees asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse Him.” Jesus said to them, “what man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other” in Matthew 12:1-14. Dr. Sleeth explained this scripture like this, “Jesus, not the rules, sets the tone . . . Sabbath is simply presented not as a rule to be kept, but as a freedom to enter into.” He renamed Sabbath as “Stop Day.”
How to Observe “STOP DAY”
“Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work“ (Deu. 5:12).
- “Keep it holy”: set apart a day as your Sabbath day. It doesn’t have be a Sunday
- Stop from labor and rest instead.
- We are allowed to do good works on the Day of Sabbath when there is need.
- We must work hard for six days so that we don’t have to work on our Sabbath Day.
Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.
Take time to be holy, let Him be thy Guide;
And run not before Him, whatever betide.
In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,
And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.
Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,
Each thought and each motive beneath His control.
Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,
Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.
For Jews, Saturday is the day of Sabbath. For Christians, Sunday has been the day of Sabbath since the resurrection of Jesus on a Sunday morning. But it’s not Saturday or Sunday is the most important, but to stop working one day out of seven days. The word Sabbath means “cease from working.” Dr. Sleeth says, “Celebrate the day you believe is ordained. Resting one day a week by any name is holy—the point is to stop on that day and look for God. It will happen only as a result of a conscious choice and effort. All that we need to begin is to remember the Sabbath as the fourth commandment tells us.
One of the most respected pastors in U.S. especially among the pastorsis Eugene Peterson. He is also a distinguished professor of theology and the author of “The Message.” He said, “Sabbath Keeping Life is the way we have been created to live well . . . In Sabbath keeping, we become more ourselves, not less. Sabbath is a time to transition from human doing to human being.”