THE ABIDING LIFE
By Gwen Sellers
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Rest. What comes to mind when you hear that word? I asked some friends on Facebook and here's what they said:
Naps; Being free from responsibility; Revitalizing; Dependence; Getting out of the daily grind to fill whatever is empty in me. Typically that means socializing or any type of "play"; Surrender; Elusive; Christ! He is our Sabbath rest; Gift from God necessary for life and success; Something I don't do enough; Sleep; A release from what currently occupies us. Sometimes we need to take a rest from our leisure time just as much as we need a rest from our work; Being on top of a mountain hike where you hear silence. So peaceful; Pray and play; Matthew 11:28...Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Most of us would agree that we need rest. But what about "Sabbath rest"? I've been told that Christians are not required to keep "the Sabbath." And I agree to a point. Christians are not under the Old Testament law and certainly need not abide by the extra restrictions placed on the Sabbath by religious leaders of old. However, I think we do ourselves a disservice when we relegate "Sabbath" to the Old Covenant.
Exodus 20:8-11 is where the Sabbath is found as part of the Ten Commandments. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Here we see that the Sabbath is meant for everyone — servants, animals, and even visitors. We also see that God set the example for Sabbath during creation. He created in six days, then rested on the seventh. Genesis 2:2-3 says, "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." Doesn't that just ring with a sense of satisfaction and contentment? Perhaps it is similar to the peace my friend feels on top of a mountain.
The Ten Commandments as stated in Deuteronomy 5 give the Sabbath command this way:
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)Here we see the concept of Sabbath linked to God's deliverance. The people rest because it is God who brought them out of Egypt. They did not escape by their own efforts, but were wholly dependent on God's mighty work. This is also why they grant rest to others (servants and livestock).
Ezekiel 20 demonstrates just how important the Sabbath is to God.
Thus says the Lord God: On the day when I chose Israel, I swore to the offspring of the house of Jacob, making myself known to them in the land of Egypt; I swore to them, saying, I am the Lord your God. On that day I swore to them that I would bring them out of the land of Egypt into a land that I had searched out for them, a land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. And I said to them, Cast away the detestable things your eyes feast on, every one of you, and do not defile yourselves with the idols of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. But they rebelled against me and were not willing to listen to me. None of them cast away the detestable things their eyes feasted on, nor did they forsake the idols of Egypt. Then I said I would pour out my wrath upon them and spend my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt. But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So I led them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned. Ezekiel 20:5-13
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Image credit: IronRodArt; Creative Commons
Tags: Christian-Life | Controversial-Issues | Health-Wellness
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Published on 3-12-2014