Content & Images © 2008-2014 - Rachel Miller, Ink Road Originals LLC, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Luxury of Rest

I'm writing my Monday blog on Tuesday, because I've been busy with a million little tasks the past few days. I'm not complaining.  However, I do find it ironic that the subject God has been talking to me about a lot over the past week has been rest.  Specifically, the nature of the sabbath.

I've been reading a book about the sabbath this week, on loan from my sister, called Sabbath Keeping, by Lynne M. Baab. I also keep stumbling across articles in magazines and on the web stressing the importance of rest and vacation time. Here are some key points I've gleaned from it all.

  • Doctors and office workers are pretty much united in the health benefits of periodic rest from work. I've also read several articles this week touting the benefits to creativity and innovation of taking a break from the routine, or from stress-inducing activities.  Why do we refuse to stop work, with all this evidence for the benefits of rest? Could it be a fear that we'll be left behind in the rush and information deluge? Could it be a fear of financial catastrophe? Whatever the cause, fear doesn't seem like a good place for Christians to live. The sabbath, as it was established, was like a weekly vacation or a celebration to remind us that God (not our own efforts) protects us and prospers us.
  • Sabbath in Hebrew can be translated "rest," but it more generally means "stop." So when the Bible says that God rested at the end of creation, it means that He also stopped. He stopped to enjoy all the things He had made, and He took a whole day to do it.  He invites us to step back and enjoy what He created, with Him.
  • When God first instituted Sabbath observance in the Ten Commandments, He reminded the nation of Israel of their slavery in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5: 14-15). They had no break from their work as slaves, but the Sabbath distinguished them as free people under God's covenant, with no cruel masters to keep them working without a rest. The Sabbath symbolized freedom and the luxury to enjoy that freedom.
  • The Sabbath also symbolized God's abundance. The Israelites had to live hand to mouth every other day of the week, gathering only enough manna for that day, but on the Sabbath, they ate the extra manna, the extra blessing that God had sent them (Exodus 16: 21-26). They did six days of work but got paid for seven, in essence.
  • The origin of the Sunday celebration among Christians had to do with the day of the Resurrection, the "Lord's Day," not the timing of the Jewish Sabbath service, which is on Saturday. In essence, Sunday service for most Christians is a combined celebration of God's completion of Creation (the old sabbath) and Christ's completion of our redemption through His death and resurrection (the new sabbath, the new creation).
 I shared these points today because I want to encourage my readers to consider taking a Sabbath of some kind, perhaps not on Sunday or Saturday, but maybe on another day of the week. I'm not suggesting legalism or empty ceremony.  I'm talking about celebrating the luxury, freedom, and abundance that we have because of the God we serve.