Jan 26 2020 How to Practice a Sabbath Rest part 1
26th January 2020
Bible Project video intro:
We are looking at things that matter most – and one of those is practicing the Sabbath rest.
The Bible Project guys – Tim and John – Tim is the theologian, John does the design and such – they hash through the subject –
Oftentimes, when it comes to the Sabbath, people ask – do Christians have to practice the Sabbath? If you ask that question – it comes from not understanding what the Sabbath is! Let me say it this way:
How would you like to have one day a week – where you could relax, chill out, do the things you love and enjoy, have extra sleep, enjoy your family, take a hike, go on a picnic, grow in an intimate relationships with God and your experience of His love, how would you like one day a week, guaranteed, for that?
The question then becomes, do Christians GET to practice the Sabbath? Because that is what the Sabbath is all about!
Genesis 2: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 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.
The word ‘Rested’ here is the word ‘Sabbath’
To cease. To stop.
The seventh day – everything was completed – God had finished all of His creative work – and at that time, everything stopped – everything is completely done and finished. God rested.
There are ways that we misunderstand this. We tend to look at it as a separate event – not connected to what comes before and after it.
If we don’t look at it in its cultural context, and understand what God is doing through this, to point to, as the video said, something entirely different that what we first see - that there is something greater than just this day of rest.
The word – SEVEN – the number plays an important role. Seven is seen as a completion – a fullness – something completely finished. SEVENS AND SEVENS AND SEVENS appear throughout the Bible, as the Bible project video said. Each time, it shows that God has completed something – and as we look at Genesis 1,2,3 – God is showing how He is going to write His Bible – these patterns, filled with things we understand to help us understand things we don’t understand.
Genesis 1:1 –IN the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… Consists of 7 Hebrew words – and verse 2 contains 14 Hebrew words… - (7x2)
And then here in Genesis 2 – there are 21 Hebrew words – 7 on each line of the Hebrew Bible. This is not to show numerology or trying to find conspiracies or anything – but that there is something in this that is finished – something meant to be in this – and something went desperately wrong.
The word God is repeated 35 times – 5 * 7. The word heavens – 21 times – the word, earth – 21 times, “saw that it was good” – 7 times.
In this little bit of the Bible, the entire Bible is being told.
Everything from this point is just repeating what has already been told – Creation, new Creation, Redemption/Battle of light and darkness, and all of it comes out and points to Christ.
When we see this as a command to have a Sabbath – we are missing it – the command doesn’t appear for thousands of years after Genesis 1 – it all points to this ideal of a Sabbath – and then to a future, perpetual Sabbath. Humanity is supposed to live in a perpetual rest (someday). Even in the Garden, it was an enjoyable rest – and then the Fall comes in, and ruins it all…
Exodus 20:8 8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
This is part of the Ten Commandments – and when we focus on it, we
We honor God as the creator and sustainer of all things. If Israel actually rests, they must demonstrate that they trust that God provides everything for them. It is about trust – not about work, performance, effort, or striving. It is a time to stop those things.
The command is repeated in Deut. 5 – and there is some new stuff added…
Deuteronomy 5:14 in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you (These words were not in Exodus) – The Sabbath is about equity, justice, equality, and fairness.
What God does through the Sabbath, He levels the playing field. No one’s efforts can get them further. No one’s talents can get them ahead – there must be utter and complete reliance on God on that day.
'You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.
He is saying – this is about justice, equity, and fairness – and a celebration of our liberation from slavery. SO theologically – it is a redemption day – a salvation day – where all of us have been redeemed from slavery. Slavery to sin – Slavery to all kinds of things – and the Sabbath is about being freed from that.
Israel, in the Old Testament – failed to fully experience the rest that was designed for them. Then Jesus comes on the scene and says -
Matthew 11:28 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Jesus comes – when He uses the word yoke – He is referring to His teaching, way of living and the ways of his life. If you follow His way of doing things – it will make things easy. Kingdom work is like the work in the Garden – a rest, not a struggle – and He is trying to draw us in to that kind of work.
I’d like to give us some practical things – how to practice a Sabbath rest.
For the Jewish people, it begins Friday at sundown. Tim (from the Bible Project) spent a year studying in Israel – and he lived next to the largest market in Israel – ½ hour before Sundown – men with black coats would blow the horns – and then again with 10 minutes left – and then Boom! The doors would close, and everyone would be in their homes – Celebrating!
You don’t have to do it sundown to sundown – the first thing that must come to mind is to STOP.
First – stop work or labor – that which we do to provide for ourselves. We need a day a week. I know it is hard in America – but it is more than that – it is a time to cease our efforts and our striving. One day – to cease striving. We all have our striving – control – to get ahead – what is your striving? You need one day a week to cease from striving. Stop, rest from cultural pressures and expectations. Stop.
It is a day for emotional rest! Think of setting aside one day a week where you cease anxiety! Fear! Shame! Whatever it is! How would that go? How beneficial would that be? For us, Friday night to Saturday night is the best! It doesn’t matter when it is for you… These are gone for this day – then pick it up again, if you must!
It is also a time for relational rest – a time of peacemaking – reconciling relationships – setting aside holding grudges. No judging! Cease from bitterness on that day!
Things to do:
Make a list of activities to avoid! Things that give you stress and make you feel like you need to get stuff done– a day where those activities don’t become part of that day.
Plan extra physical rest – curling up with a book! Staying in bed longer
Do activities that refresh and give you joy! If they don’t give you joy, throw them away – (like Marie Kondo!)
Plan time for God – enjoy God on that day. And I don’t mean studying or praying through your one-hour list – unless that gives you joy! Our focus needs to be on those things we enjoy in our relationship with God.
Luke 4: 16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
When you look at Jesus’ life – it is amazing how many things happen on the Sabbath…
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
There are 2 aspects to the Sabbath – the rest – and the work of rest! The work of rest is the work of equity, justice, fairness, and equality. As Jesus talks on the Sabbath – and the Pharisees criticize Him on the Sabbath.
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Matthew 12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.
3 He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven't you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent?
6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."9 Departing from there, He went into their synagogue.
10 And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"-- so that they might accuse Him. 11 And He 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? 12 "How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."