Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.”
When most people think of the 10 commandments they tend to focus on the rules and miss the relationship. The first 4 commandments deal with our relationship with God and the next 6 our relationship with others. What is interesting is that of the 10 commandments keeping the sabbath is often the one taken most lightly. Against the other commandments like, “Thou shall not kill”, “Thou shall not steal”, and “Do not commit adultery”, “Remember to observe the Sabbath day” seems rather mild and innocuous. Yet nothing could be further from the truth, as the final commandment dealing with man’s relationship with God it concludes with all that we need to know in order to have a full life. The problem is that when we hear the word sabbath instead of thinking rest we hear rules and regulations. Sabbath is not about rules and regulations it is God’s gift of Sabbath rest. You may be asking “How can we afford Sabbath rest in the midst of the craziness of modern life?” Perhaps the better question is, “How can we afford to IGNORE the Sabbath rest in the midst of the craziness of modern life?” If we would value God’s gift of Sabbath rest enough to embrace it we would discover the key to living a life of tranquility even in the midst of turmoil. When we rediscover God’s gift of the Sabbath we rediscover rest. In our modern world of more and more, go and go, do and do the margins become blurred and our boundaries erased. God our Father created us and knows our limitations, He knows our need for boundaries when it comes to work. Many of us choose to ignore this God given gifts, the blessing of boundaries, we see them not as rest but restriction. We think we know more than our Maker, we start to resent His rest and rebel, referring to them as Old Testament rules that don’t relate to us. Yet God has given us boundaries about the marriage relationship, no extra-marital affairs or boundaries for our tongue, be quick to listen and slow to speak or boundaries about chasing after, accumulating and putting our trust in wealth, when he said “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” So too God gives us boundaries regarding work, to keep work in its proper place. His boundaries keep us from becoming “human doings” and allow us to become the “human beings” that He created and intended us to be. Keeping the sabbath is not about ritual or rules it is a boundary marker meant to be a guardrail to keep work from consuming us.
These lists of the 10 Commandments can be found in two places, Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. In each of these lists the commandments, boundaries are the same but each passage gives a different reason for the boundary. They have a differing explanation as to why Sabbath is to be honored and each reason for Sabbath is significant. Exodus 8:11, gives us this reason. “For in 6 days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the 7th day.” We keep Sabbath because God himself did, the created order, His work was done. When God concluded a boundary was set and He modeled for us a weekly rhythm. From the very beginning God was teaching us that this was and is His design, plan, model and intention. We need to remember that Sabbath is pre sin, it was created before sin entered the world. So when we honor it we are participating in something that sin hadn’t touched. Yet for many we forgo God’s pleasant plan of rest opting instead for self. What if we stopped viewing this as ritual and rule and instead participated in His plan of restful relaxation? What are you resting in?