I wrinkled my face in confusion. My friend just told me how she started “keeping the Sabbath.”
Sabbath? Isn’t that just a day to rest or something?
Even though I knew Sabbath was a biblical concept, I would skip over mentions of it as if it wasn’t applicable to me. The more I heard and studied, I realized how much this delightful and beautiful creation has gotten trampled on and lost somewhere along the way.
God knew humanity was susceptible to forgetfulness, because instead of only telling us to follow the Sabbath, He says, “Remember the Sabbath day” (Ex. 20:8). In order to practice it, we must first remember it.
We’re prone to forget. We’ve gotten away from this practice of rest that God created. Even as the Church, we’ve become so consumed with doing things for God that we don’t spend any time simply being with God.
Sabbath is a pause. We stop striving and working to simply dwell with the Lord for a whole day. It’s a reset, as we let the Lord tune our hearts and minds to Him. Why bother to push pause on the pace of our busy lives? Here are a few ideas.
- To focus solely on God. A day of Sabbath rest is giving the Lord all of our attention (Ex. 20:10).
- God blessed it and made it holy. All days can be considered holy, but God set apart the Sabbath as a day specifically for rest and worship. He made the Sabbath for us (Ex. 35:2; Mark 2:27).
- God rested. He was not tired. Rather, He rested to delight in His creation with satisfaction. We rest because He rested (Gen. 2:2–3).
Maybe Sabbath still sounds like an old-fashioned idea or simply too much work. But before you blow it off, let’s walk through three myths about Sabbath.
1. Sabbath Is Old-Fashioned
Though Sabbath is an ancient practice that started in the beginning of time (literally), it was designed with a purpose. In the beginning, before the Fall, God “blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Gen. 2:3). In Exodus, we see humanity mirroring God’s actions when He spoke to them, “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God” (Ex. 20:9–10).
Sabbath is a gift from God, an invitation to participate in this holy rest. If God rested on the seventh day, why would we not do the same? Why wouldn’t we take God up on His offer to rest and delight in Him?
2. I’m Too Busy to Sabbath
Our fast-paced society tells us we don’t have time to stop and rest for twenty-four hours, but the reality is that we’re too busy not to Sabbath. God built Sabbath into the week. He created us to rest. In order for us to be productive and work well, it is imperative that we rest well.
When God sent bread from heaven to Moses and the Israelites, He commanded them to prepare for the Sabbath on the sixth day by gathering twice as much bread and laying some aside for the next day, instructing them to not gather on day seven. They did not listen and still went out in their normal routine, finding nothing because God had already provided enough. Not only did God set Sabbath as a commandment—He gave it as a gift. We don’t have to worry and fear because He will provide for us as we honor His time (Ex. 16:29).
3. Sabbath Is Boring
When we think of rest, sometimes our minds falsely assume boredom. But Sabbath rest is a different rest. A unique kind of holy rest. Rather than just a vacation or day off work or school, Sabbath is a space for worship and delight. It’s a day to not think about emails or assignments. It’s made for us to stop the bustle of calendar notifications and instead to soak in the wonder of the Lord. Isaiah tells us in chapter fifty-eight that Sabbath is a delight. That doesn’t sound boring to me.
Now that we’ve debunked the myths, how do we actually implement the Sabbath?
Your Sabbath day will look different than someone else’s. Some people, especially pastors who work Sundays, choose to Sabbath Friday night to Saturday night. Others choose Saturday evening to Sunday evening to include Sunday worship service as part of their Sabbath. Like any new habit, it will likely take some practice to develop a rhythm. Instead of getting hung up on logistics, remember that Sabbath is ultimately about reorienting your life to Jesus. Essentially it comes down to dedicated time to worship and rest.
Once you start the regular practice of Sabbath in your life, you won’t want to go back. Let’s stop, delight, and rest in Jesus. It’s what we were created to do.
What are some activities that you find life-giving, restful, and worshipful? Have you ever practiced Sabbath before, and why or why not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!