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. Genesis 2:2
Honoring the Sabbath conjures up ideas of closed stores, quiet homes, and lazy days. A day of do-nothing. You go to church and then, you simply do . . . nothing. My wife grew up spending Sundays, the traditional Christian sabbath, at her grandmother’s home. With a house full of laughing, playful kids, it was down time for the adults after lunch. The kids had one rule – stay on the porch. You got off the porch and her grandmother would get a switch.
Man rules rules. When I began pastoring Living Waters, I was faced first with rules from the very beginning. Some was spelled out on nice engraved signs. Others were verbally shared – don’t bring food in the auditorium, clean kitchen after use, etc. Rules can be restrictive. To another, they can be liberating.
When it comes to the Sabbath, man has historically applied rules. The ‘rule enforcers’ faced off with Jesus when He was healing on the Sabbath. (John 7) Jesus responded with simply a question about who makes the rules. If anyone knew the rules regarding the Sabbath, it was Jesus. He was there the first Sabbath as God looked at everything He had made, said it was good, and rested.
God appreciated the rest. Though He did not need it, He created it for man (Mark 2:27) and led by example in partaking in the first inaugural Sabbath. He did one thing. He rested. Unlike other things – diets, hygiene, etc. – where He created explicit guideline, He did not with the Sabbath.
So when God made His top ten, the Ten Commandments, He placed it in there. Yet, the problem with us relating to the Sabbath, He didn’t clarify the rules for the Sabbath. Or did He? He didn’t make rules. He didn’t say any ‘thou shalts’ or ‘thou shalt not.’ He didn’t specify, dictate, or make clear.
God is so simple and He made it is so simple. He created the Sabbath for us for one reason – rest.
I believe more than ever we as Christian believers need to institute the Sabbath. If we have any rules, guidelines, or boundaries in our life regarding the Sabbath, it is to simply observe and celebrate the Sabbath. I enjoy Mark Buchanan’s golden rule of the Sabbath he provides in his book, “The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Your Sabbath:” Cease from what is necessary. Embrace that which gives life.
Let’s make Mark’s golden rule our golden rule or our mantra for the Sabbath. Let’s throw off man made rules self imposed by ourselves, our friends and families, or others in our lives. Let’s enjoy and celebrate the Sabbath by ceasing from what is necessary and embracing that which gives life.
The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. – Jesus (Mark 2:27)
As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope by which man rises.