Keeping Sabbath is a Step of Faith

And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. Matthew 8:24-26

In today’s scripture Jesus accomplished more when he was resting than the disciples did while they were desperately rowing and bailing water. Jesus wasn’t being lazy when He was sleeping. He simply knew that the Father would help Him to do all He need to do at just the right time, but only if He rested! As we rest, it teaches us to depend more fully on Jesus. Just like the stillness that Jesus brought to the sea by His word, as we rest, our racing thoughts calm to a hush and in that quietness we can begin to hear God’s still small voice. Keeping Sabbath is a step of faith with our time, in the same way that giving our tithe is a step of faith with our finances.  With our tithe we give the first and best of our financial resources, trusting that God will multiply the rest to meet our needs. We need to remind ourselves that keeping a Sabbath is not just observing some law, but a spiritual recognition that the first and best of part our time is better in God’s hands, than a whole week in ours. As believers in Jesus Christ we don’t “have to” legalistically rest on Sunday. Instead, we discover that we have the privilege at least once a week to find our rest in Him. One day we will finish with all of the work of our life. On that day we will enter into the greatest Sabbath of all as we find our wonderful and complete rest in the presence of Jesus forever and all our work will remain behind!

The Sabbath is For Healing

On this Easter week you might be wondering why I am choosing to share a series on the Sabbath. That is a question I have asked myself as well, but then, what better week than this to consider rest. This week of all the year is like a spiritual Sabbath when we turn from the activities of the world and focus on Jesus and all He has done. Today let’s take a look at the Sabbath as a special day of healing.

And a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Matthew 12:10

In our search to understand the Sabbath let’s begin by seeing how Jesus acted on the day of rest. One thing we find over and over in the gospels is that He seemed to take special delight in choosing the Sabbath day for healing the sick, which upset the Pharisees. In answer to their accusation that He was breaking the law, Jesus explained,

“It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” Matthew 12:12. 

 In other words, our day of rest is not simply a ceasing of all activity. Jesus was no less active on the Sabbath than on any other day. The Sabbath rest can be a day of miraculous restoration. At the finish of creation, God’s assessment of His work was,

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31 

But today when we look out around the world, even the rosiest of the rosiest views is that not all is good any longer. In fact, there is incredible pain, suffering, sin and loss. Jesus came into our dark world to give us the breath of life again. He came to the weary and heavy laden to give a new Sabbath rest for our souls. The Sabbath is there at all times and in all places as God’s special day of healing, hope and restoration. It is a day set aside not simply to get rest while we watch TV, but to switch our focus to a service that gives life and rest to others. Jesus accomplished more as He rested by the well and slept in the boat than the disciples did while buying food or pulling hard at the oars. God has given us the Sabbath day of rest as a gift, and He waits to see how we will choose to use His gift in the lives of those around us. Day one the question was, “Have you received God’s gift of the Sabbath? Day two let’s ask, “To whom have we given it away?”

The Sabbath is Unique

For those of you who are regular readers, you know that I am a fan of “The Chosen” series. In the first season I especially loved the episode on the Sabbath and was deeply moved by the final scene of all the different families in different settings taking time to honor God. This week I will be sharing a series on the Sabbath which I wrote a few years ago but I believe with all my heart is needed now more than ever. As a young man, I belonged to a church that taught us some pretty legalistic forms of Sabbath keeping which sadly obscured the deeper truths and blessings for which God created the seventh day. The reality is that Christ is our Sabbath, and our only rest is in Him. But that being said, there does remain a uniqueness to keeping Sabbath which I hope we never lose. I will be delighted to hear not only your reactions, but how you keep Sabbath and the blessings you have found. So here is day one –

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. Exodus 20:11

This Sunday as I was resting, I began to thank God for having planned for us such a special day. The world is push-push- push 24/7 and 365. No day, no hour, no minute is any different from any other. One day when I was a teen-ager I was driving home from work. I was tired and, in a hurry, so when I found myself behind a long line of slow-moving traffic, I was particularly irritated. I couldn’t remember a construction zone in that area and the speed limit was 60-70 miles per hour so immediately I began to pass as many cars at a time as I could. I thought I was making pretty good time till I pulled out and noticed that the first car in line was a hearse! Oh, how ashamed I felt! The world is a lot like I was that afternoon. There is no time to slow down until we are being driven away to be buried!

But rest is coded into the very DNA of God’s creation. The Sabbath was unique because on that day when He was no longer busy with creation, God set aside an entire day just to spend time with Adam and Eve. God wasn’t worn out or tired from His work but instead He rested by choice. Today is the first in an eight-part series on why God has made the Sabbath unique. I am sometimes afraid that in our modern world we have forgotten how to rest. In our worry and hurry, our pushing and shoving it is so easy to forget the value of Sabbath rest. God’s day is not meant simply as a ritual observance or a duty to be carried out with gritted teeth. God’s Sabbath is His gift for us. Together let’s slow down and allow the wheels of life to cease turning just long enough for us to unwrap His gift and look into God’s humble and unhurried heart.

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, 
not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27