What is a Sabbath Day?


The Ten Commandments: a clear guide for right and wrong behavior presented in the Old Testament. They are easy to keep, right? Dont murder, steal, or lie; I can follow those rules. Some of the commandments are a bit more nuanced. Not being jealous of others can be tricky. Many people seem to have problems with modern day idolatry or adultery. You would think that ten commands would be easy to follow. But there is one in particular that we tend to disobey. In fact, we tend to ignore it all together!

Embedded in God's famous guidelines for living is the fourth commandment: we are to remember the sabbath day and to keep it holy. Most of us think, no problem but the truth is that we generally fail to take a day of rest. Think about the last time you rested. Let me qualify rest. I do not believe that God was talking about watching television. He wasnt talking about cleaning the house or making a run to the grocery store. Sabbath observance is more than not going into work. Dallas Willard is a guy who has a good grasp on rest. He describes it as such in his book Renovation of the Heart. He says,

Sabbath fulfilled in human life is really celebration of God. Sabbath is inseparable from worship, and, indeed, genuine worship is Sabbath. As the fourth commandment, Sabbath is the fulfillment in practice of the first three. When we come to the place where we can joyously "do no work" it will be because God is so exalted in our minds and bodies that we can trust him with our life and our world and can take our hands off of them.

Dallas Willard. Renovation of the Heart: Putting On the Character of Christ (Kindle Locations 2462-2464). Kindle Edition.

Have you ever considered taking a day of hands off living?  A day of worship and celebration of God? What exactly would that look like? Can you imagine a whole day where we dont fret about the future? A day where we allow God to be in complete control; where the passing of time is not filled with tasks and chores? Our world does not celebrate this type of behavior. We measure success and productivity with the same reed.

A day of rest is a day focused on being with God and not doing for God. There is only way to observe a sabbath day and that is over time. Realize that you cannot pound out a sabbath experience. I challenge you to observe a sabbath day. It will require some planning and preparation. We see the Israelites preparing for a day of rest throughout the Bible. A day of rest wont happen by accident. You must go out of your way to create a restful experience. Be intentional about drawing your attention towards God.

Brent ColbyComment