We often like to tell people just how busy we are. “I’m so busy; I can hardly keep up!” As one author described the struggle, “I wanted to figure out why I was so busy, but I couldn’t find the time to do it.” One of the reasons we keep ourselves so busy is that we find a sense of value and worth in constantly being productive.
One of the most distinctive elements of Israel’s faith was their practice of Sabbath. The command is rooted in Creation. Over six days God created the universe and on the seventh He rested (Gen. 2:2–3). It was important enough that God illustrated this command by example.
Today’s reading reminded Israel of one of the purposes of Sabbath: it was to be a “day of sacred assembly” (Lev. 23:3). The community would come together in rest and fellowship with each other and with the Lord. Sabbath reminds us that life is not about being productive all the time. After all, God is the Lord of time.
The practice of keeping the Sabbath puts a check on our ambition. It reminds us that we can take the time to rest in God’s presence because we trust Him to provide for us. It reminds us that it is not our work or frantic activity that makes us holy, but our relationship with God. Without this principle, work can become an idol or an oppressor. The Sabbath was to be for everyone; men and women, children, servants, foreigners residing in Israel, and even animals (Ex. 20:10).
As members of the New Covenant, we are not required to observe Sabbath in the same way Israel did (Col. 2:16). However, having a pattern of work and rest is still authoritative for us. Jesus invites His followers to find their rest in Him (Matt. 11:28).
>> Take a few moments to evaluate your own life and pattern of rest and work. Do you devote regular time to rest in the Lord? How can you set aside that time this week?
Bless our rest, we pray. Help us relinquish, if only for a time, the endless tasks we must accomplish. Instead, we want to reflect on You, rejoicing in the peace of a quiet morning. As we rest our bodies, please rest our souls.