In the beginning, God spent six days creating light, water, sky, land, the seas, fruits, vegetables, stars, the moon, the sun, the birds, the fish, the animals, and people. After all of this creativity and work, the Lord rested on the seventh day. We see from the very beginning an example of work and rest. Later on, the fourth commandment is given to Moses and tells us to remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8). We then witness Jesus in the New Testament valuing rest and time away with the Father (Mark 6:31). How can we have the best Sabbath?
We notice that each day in which God created ends with the statement, “And there was evening, and there was morning” (Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13, 1:19, 1:23, 1:31). In many of our cultures today we view the day starting in the morning and going through the night. However, the day begins in the night and ends with the day. Within this thought, the Lord could be modeling to us to work from a place of rest.
Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
I find it intriguing that the command begins with the word “remember.” One of the greatest struggles that we encounter in taking a Sabbath is remembering to set aside a day of rest. We remember by setting the day apart as special is receiving God’s gift to rest. We can honor the Lord by our decision to be still and know that He is God. If the Creator of the universe – who did not need to rest – chose to rest on the seventh day, then it is a value to Him. If it is good enough for God, it is good enough for us.
Maybe you do not believe that you need to rest. Remember, God did not need rest, but He chose rest and made it a priority. Resting is an action. It takes effort to pull away from the busy world around us and be still. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can make a discipline out of Sabbathing, whether for a couple of hours or a full day.
Hebrews 4:9-11 shares “So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest.”
I love how Hebrews 4 tells us that there is a special rest waiting for us. The concept of a Sabbath is a blessing and a special gift to us as believers. I love how it says that we enter into God’s rest. If we try to rest in our own strength or apart from the Lord, it defeats the entire purpose of a Sabbath. We are not meant to just lay out and binge watch tv all day or stare at a wall. We are supposed to be actively resting with God and focusing on His love for us. This means inviting Him into the day off.
Verse 11 closes out by sharing that God rested after creating the world. Then, it implores us to do our best to enter that rest. We are not perfect, but we are called to do our best to commit some time to Christ each week to Sabbath. We get to enter the rest that is already right there waiting for us.
There is an account of Jesus healing on the Sabbath found in Mark 3. The Pharisees were trying to stump Him and cause Him to mess up. However, Jesus proved to be Lord of the Sabbath and showed favor to the crippled man, healing him on the day of rest. Jesus posed the question “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” (Mark 3:4). Jesus never sinned, He simply showed the people that He was Lord over the Sabbath, and the heart is more important than the actions.
This teaches us to put Christ first and to fulfill the ultimate commandment to love God and love others (John 15:12-13). If someone needs help on your day of rest, go help them. If there is a family emergency, don’t turn down assistance because it’s your sabbath. We have freedom to make choices with the Sabbath. What’s important is that the Lord has given us the gift of rest and we can embrace that. It is not a legalistic rule.
Someone might have a Sabbath on a Wednesday because they work odd hours. Someone might have a day off a different day each week because they work in the medical field. Someone might be able to rest the same times every week. Whatever your Sabbath looks like, it is a special time provided for you from the love of the Creator.
1. Prioritize time each week
When we get into a routine of setting aside the space to enter into the rest God has for us, we are more likely to create that discipline. Whether your schedule is the same every week or not, find time to rest and get away from the busy.
2. Rest in the opposite way you work
I once heard from a podcast, “If you work with your hands, rest with your mind. And if you work with you mind, rest with your hands.” This was a profound statement to me. If I am physically exerting myself at work all week, I need to physically be still and rest with my mind through reading, writing, crosswords, puzzles, etc. If I am intellectually working all week, I need to rest with my hands through something such as walking, sports, biking, painting, pottery, etc. Resting with God does not mean reading the Bible all day or praying all day. Although it could be this, it can also mean reflecting on the Lord all day and dedicating the day of rest to Him. We can invite Jesus into our fun days off.
3. Learn your barriers to resting
If we are unaware of our barriers to resting, we will not recognize the enemy we are fighting against. It is important that we grow in our self-awareness and learn the weaknesses we each face when it comes to the Sabbath. The enemy wants to prevent this gift from being received, so he will try to come against your time off with God. We must be on our guard and combat the lies of the enemy.
4. Invite fun into your sabbath
Some people think that a sabbath has to be a day-long Bible Study. If that is joyful and peaceful to you, go for it. However, if you want to go on a hike and admire God’s creation, enjoy! If you want to shoot basketball hoops and ponder Scripture while you play, go for it! If you want to reflect on the love of God and paint something beautiful, try that. When we think of rest, it is valuable to have a broader perspective than just sitting down. Rest is a state of being, not just a physical position.
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com