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. Exodus 20:9–10
The sabbath was made for man. Mark 2:27
When I was a young boy in Sunday school, my teacher was a godly man, a carpenter, and one who spoke a very real country dialect. “He done [sic] a bad thing, when he took the life of that slave down in Egypt,” he would say. He had an impact on me much more by his presence and example than by his teaching of the Sunday school lesson.
One such lesson was on the Sabbath. There was no subtlety about questions of Saturday versus Sunday. There was no discussion of our freedom to worship on any day we choose. The message was simple: Sunday was for church and not for fishing. Yes, even fishing was not an acceptable Sunday activity in those days – not to mention that all the stores were closed and there was little else to do on a Sunday afternoon. Golf or even football had not reached its prominence as distractions or passions in those days. The idea of not fishing didn’t exactly appeal to me those many years ago. But often the idea of not doing something in order to keep the Sabbath involved doing just that.
Little did I realize at that time that this commandment is an invitation to something far better than giving things up. It is an invitation to find rest in God. There are so many good reasons to do this:
- You discover that the world can continue to function without you.
- You discover that you are feeling and experiencing things that were heretofore numbed by busy-ness and hyperactivity.
- It requires you to acknowledge that you are not God, nor can you function as though you have his resources 24/7.
- You learn that God has deep truths to speak to quiet hearts.
- You discover that “in repentance and rest is your peace,” but too often we “would have none of it.” (cf. Isaiah 30:15).
- You realize that you can accomplish more with fewer hours if you take the time to rest before you begin to work.
- You enrich your own life and the lives of others as you gather for public worship.
- You honor God, saying in effect, “I want to give this day to you, Lord God.”
None of this is for God. Nor is the Sabbath something we should serve. Indeed, as we embrace this invitation to worship and to rest, we discover that we are the better for it.