Sabbath, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, is “a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jewish people from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.”
So, why is it so important that we keep, honor, and practice Sabbath?
In order to properly answer and address this question, we must go back to the Old Testament.
1. God set the precedent for Sabbath rest
One of the very first things we read when we open up the Hebrew Bible is God resting from his work after Creation.
“On the seventh day God had completed his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it he rested from all his work of creation.” Genesis 2:2
God created rest as an intentional, purposed, set aside time specifically to cease from working.
2. Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments
Not only was it something created and honored by God Himself, but honoring Sabbath was part of the ten commandments that God directly gave to Moses and the people of Israel.
“Be careful to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy as the Lord your God has commanded you. You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. Do not do any work-- you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your ox or donkey, any of your livestock, or the resident alien who lives within your city gates, so that your male and female slaves may rest as you do.” Deuteronomy 5:12-14
3. Jesus prioritized rest and Sabbath
The third thing that comes to mind is Jesus, and how he regularly withdrew himself from the crowd, people, and even his close personal friends, to sleep, rest, pray, and be alone with God.
“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” Luke 5:16
And in Matthew 12: 6-8, Jesus declares himself to be Lord of the Sabbath:
“Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
How Practicing Sabbath Impacts Our Lives
It is so ingrained in our Western, American culture to work our fingers to the bone. We are so embedded with this idea that we have to grind, work, slave, and toil in order to get what we want (money, success, accomplishments, possessions, fame, etc). When in reality, not only is that not how many of our Eastern and European companions view life, but it’s not how God intended it either.
Because of where we live and how we’ve been raised to value work, we as a culture can tend, very often, to revere work (and all that comes along with it) as a god in and of itself.
It is when work becomes a deity, or even broaches upon that high place of honor, that we are failing to see God as God and living in a way that even recognizes the cross for the grace-filled, paid-for work that it is and was.
This is why it is crucial to fiercely guard Sabbath’s rest. It is, along with prayer, reading of the scriptures, worship, and meditation, the way by which we honor God as God and put Him in His rightful place as Lord of our lives.
To think we can skip rest but not overdo our work (or anything else for that matter) is to think of ourselves as more able to resist temptation that Christ himself was in the wilderness with the enemy.
Starting to Practice Sabbath
Do you honor Sabbath rest?
If this is an area you’d like to grow in, be encouraged! It’s never too late to start taking Sabbath seriously and protecting your rest day.
Start with planning ahead for what day you’re going to rest and decide ahead of time what you absolutely will not do on those days (answering emails, fulfilling orders, taking meetings, planning schedules, etc). It might even be a good idea to write a list of things you can and will do!
Personally, we practice Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday and we don't use any social media or do any work on this day - we dedicate it to the Lord and spend it with our family and in prayer and worship!
We recommend starting off your Sabbath day with an extended time of prayer, reading, and mediation (don’t forget your Daily Kairos Journal too!)
Really give yourself the time and space to spend in God’s Word. Fill yourself up, so you have what you need to pour out into those around you for the rest of your week.
If you practice a Sabbath or are planning on starting to, we'd love to hear about your own experience! Leave us a comment below and share why it's important to you or how it's impacted your own life and walk with God.