Mention the word “Sabbath” in most churches today and those who know their Bible well will often reply, “Oh, that’s not for us…It’s Jewish!” And so it is.
The word Sabbath literally means cessation from Labor. Israel had served the pharaohs of Egypt as slaves for more than 400 years. Day after day they made bricks and built the great cities of ancient Egypt. As slaves, the Israelites did not receive sick days or vacations or holidays from their work. They labored until they died.
When the Lord freed the nation from the bondage of slavery, it was important to the Lord that they remember the pattern of work established at the time of creation: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.” (Exodus 20:11)
There are two important principals found in this verse: rest and consecration. Clearly, the Lord intended for His creation to physically rest, and went so far as to model this for us. The first purpose of the Sabbath was to give the nation of Israel something it had never had—a day off! The Lord knew that physically, men and women need rest in order to live an abundant life.
But the Sabbath was more than just a day off. Its primary purpose was to set aside–or consecrate–one day a week to focus on God and to worship him. What was God’s commandment to the Israelites regarding the Sabbath? Simple: keep it holy.
Yes, the Sabbath day is a commandment for the Jews, but are there principals for us to learn? Do we need rest? Do we need to be reminded to set aside one day a week to keep our focus on God? The answer to both of these questions is yes! Does this make it easy? No. Setting aside one day a week to rest and focus on God may require a lot more self discipline than we are willing to admit. But the Lord’s desire for us is simple: Remember to take a day off. Keep it holy.
Lord, I desire to follow your lead and consecrate one day a week to focus on you and to worship you individually and collectively within a fellowship of believers. Lord, help me to discipline myself in this area.