What is the Sabbath?
Sabbath is a cross-section between our emotional health and our spiritual life.
Sabbath becomes more than just a practice to a follower of Christ.
At the end of the day, there’s a restfulness that comes for a follower of Jesus that is deeper than just the practice of a 24-hour thing where you don’t work that is rooted in the rest that we have in Christ.
The fact that all is done and that our identity is rooted and secure in Christ. This is something that goes beyond the practice itself to what the practice opens us up to.
Sabbath is a day to rest
In Genesis 2, at the end of the creation story, we read, “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.”
The creation starts with God working and ends with God resting.
After six days of world making, it’s done. The universe is completed.
Then we read that God rested.
God, who doesn’t need sleep or a day off or a vacation, who doesn’t get tired or worn down or grouchy, who is without parallel to any other being in the universe, rested.
He set up this rhythm in the fabric of creation.
God works, so we work. God rests, so we rest.
What is Sabbath a rest from?
Let’s remember that we are made in His image. We are made to mirror and mimic who God is like to the world.
Put simply, it is a rest from work.
But obviously, work is a broad, wide-reaching term. I’d like to say that Sabbath is also a rest from the thought of work.
Work and rest live in a symbiotic relationship.
If you don’t learn how to rest well, you will never learn how to work well (and vice versa). After all, the opposite of work isn’t rest — it’s sleep.
Work and rest are friends, not enemies.
After six “days” of universe-sculpting work, God rested. And in doing so, he built a rhythm into creation itself.
We work for six days, and then we rest for one. And this pace of work and rest is just as vital to our humanness as food or water or sleep or oxygen. It’s mandatory for survival, to say nothing of flourishing.
We are not machines. We can’t work seven days a week.
We are humans. All we can do is work for six days and then rest for one, just like the God whose image we bear.
Some people say that they just don’t have time to Sabbath.
Let me ask you a question and be very honest with your answer to yourself – are you really too busy or just wasting time?
Again, let me remind you that how you spend your time is how you spend your life.
It’s like what some parents say that the reason they spend so much time working hard is for the future of their children that they literally miss the ‘growing up years’ of their children.
Sure, they’re around, proximity-wise, but they’re detached from all that’s going on emotionally and mentally in their children’s lives because by the time they come home or have a day off, they’re exhausted. And they wonder why their children are emotionally-detached from them, too.
Sabbath is a day to delight in “the work of our hands.”
The word rested in Genesis 2 is ‘shabat’ in Hebrew, where we get the word Sabbath. It essentially means “to stop” or “cease” or “be complete,” but it can also be translated “to celebrate.”
Sabbath is a day to look back over the work of the last six days, and just enjoy. To delight in the life we’ve carved out in partnership with God, to delight in the world around us, and to delight in God Himself.
There’s a Hebrew word ‘menuha’ translated “rest”. To the Jews, this is something you create. It’s a very specific kind of rest. It’s not just that you stop working and take a nap. It’s a restfulness that’s also a celebration, cultivating an environment, an atmosphere to enjoy life, the world and our God. It’s often translated “happiness.”
We all need a little menuha once in a while. For six days we wrestle with the hard work of building civilization. But on the Sabbath, we savor the work of our hands. We slow down, take a deep breath, and drink it all in an attitude of gratefulness. Whether we have a lot or a few.
The Sabbath has a life-giving ability to procreate, to fill the world up with life.
No matter how much you love your job or fine-tune your work-life balance, by the end of the week, you’re tired. Your fuel cells are on empty.
But rest refills us with energy, creativity, vision, strength, optimism, clarity and hope. Rest is life-giving.
Sabbath is when we push the reset button.
Here’s my point: there is a rhythm to this world. For six days we rule and subdue and work and draw out and labor and bleed and wrestle and fight with the ground.
But then we take a step back, and for twenty-four hours, we Sabbath, we enjoy the fruit of our labor, we delight in God and his world, we celebrate life, we rest, and we worship.
The Sabbath is a day when God has my full attention.
A day with no to-do list, when I don’t accomplish anything, and I don’t feel guilty.
A day when my phone is on a Do Not Disturb mode and you can’t reach me.
The Sabbath isn’t a day to be sad or be a hermit, it’s day to enjoy my God. It isn’t a day to buy or sell, it’s a day not to get more. It’s a day to enjoy what I already have.