The Sabbath has special meaning in my life. It is a time for me to rest and to draw closer to God. I do not always do this perfectly, but it is helpful to set aside a day for the purpose of rest and spending time with God. God set precedence for keeping the Sabbath in Genesis 2:2-3. God commanded Israel to keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a sign for them. My goal in this article is not to discuss the issues concerning a requirement for keeping the Sabbath, but rather to look at the practical and spiritual benefits of keeping the Sabbath. I also want to look at the Sabbath in the whole of Scriptures.
What is the Sabbath?
The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week and that historically has been Saturday. In Hebrew, the verb form of the word Shabbat is also shabbat and it means cease, desist, or rest. According to Merriam Webster, Saturday is defined as “the seventh day of the week.” In many circles, Sunday has become the Christian Sabbath, but it is not the Biblical Sabbath. The Lord rose on the first day and so it is a meaningful day for Christians, but God is the one who set aside the seventh day for keeping the Sabbath. I take the seventh day, Saturday as the Sabbath and see Sunday as a separate day commemorating the Lord’s resurrection.
The Sabbath of God
I really believe it is beneficial to use the example that God set for us in the second chapter of the Bible concerning a day of rest, the Sabbath. It says in Genesis 2:2-3 that “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
It is incredible for me to think of God resting on the Sabbath. Certainly, it does not seem like God would need to rest, but He gives us an example to follow with keeping the Sabbath. Are we better than God that we do not need to rest? Exodus 31:17 says that God was refreshed when He rested. How much more could we be refreshed if we kept the
The Sabbath of Israel
When God gave Israel the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11, He referenced back to creation in commanding Israel to cease from all their work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath observance was to serve as sign to Israel that the Lord sanctified them (Ex. 31:12). Another reason that God gave Israel for keeping the Sabbath had to do with their time as slaves in Egypt. In Deuteronomy 5:15, God tells them to remember their time as slaves and their deliverance by God from Egypt.
It is likely that when the Israelites were slaves, they were not able to keep the Sabbath in the way it was intended. Once they were free from slavery, they were then free to keep the Sabbath and rest from all their labors. Israel had other Sabbaths besides the seventh day that were associated with the Biblical Feasts and even the land was to have a Sabbath every seven years.
The Sabbath in the New Testament
True rest can only be found in the Lord and the New Testament has a bit to say about it. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” He says in Matthew 11:29, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.” The book of Hebrews deals with the issue of the Sabbath rest for God’s people in Hebrews 4:9. Hebrews 4:10 says, “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.” The writer of Hebrews also refers back to creation when God rested on the Sabbath.
Benefits of Keeping the Sabbath
There are physical benefits to keeping the Sabbath, but more importantly spiritual benefits and significance. I have heard about studies in the news stating that people who rest are actually more productive. The reports show that people get more done if they take time to refuel. We should try this. For me besides the physical benefit of rest, I find it valuable to have time to focus on God and try to clear my mind of the clutter of the world on the Sabbath.
I listen to uplifting music in place of my normal country music. My goal is to cease from my work as well. I am easily distracted by the things of the world and find it beneficial to keep the Sabbath as a time to lay aside the things that can distract me. I am not always successful in my endeavor, but if I did not have any time set apart, I would have no chance at all. Keeping the Sabbath gives me the opportunity to focus on God and not the things of the world.
I would just urge anyone out there who needs to refresh both physically and spiritually, to take time to rest and fellowship with God on the Sabbath. If you cannot keep the Sabbath due to work or something else, I would encourage you to find a day that works for you. It is certainly better than no day of rest. You may be surprised how much more you achieve and by how much more you can draw nearer to God. Our true rest is in Him. He has given us the Sabbath to help illustrate this truth. Keeping the Sabbath is a way to renew our hearts and mind by focusing on God.
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright (C) 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.”
Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. electronic ed.Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000.