November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, ‘This is what the Lord commanded: “Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.”’ So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. ‘Eat it today,’ Moses said, ‘because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.’”—Exodus 16:21–26 (NIV)
I don’t care how old you are, there’s nothing like a Sunday afternoon nap. Even Jesus napped (Mark 4:38)! In our fast-paced society, taking time to rest can be viewed as a weakness or a waste of time. But if we look at the Bible, resting is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
Our passage today is nestled within a chapter about gathering food in the wilderness. It explains how every morning the dew would melt and leave behind flakes, which the Israelites gathered to make manna—a type of bread. They gathered exactly as much as their family would need that day, except on the day before the Sabbath when they’d be able to gather double. This way, they’d be able to eat and rest on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath isn’t a new concept. We might think of it as an archaic idea or a rhythm only practiced by Jewish people. However, even as New Testament Christians, it’s important for us to practice a day of rest. We see God, who is all powerful, never needs to sleep, and doesn’t get tired, set up the precedent of resting in Genesis 1 and 2 when He rested on the seventh day of creation. If Creator God rested, who are we, as created beings, to think we don’t need to rest?
Now about the manna in the wilderness (the fact that dew became the substance to make bread every morning is incredible enough), let me remind you they didn’t have any refrigerators and the sun was hot in the desert. Every other time they gathered more than what they needed, it would be rotten the next morning. So, the fact that on the sixth day God allowed the Israelites to keep double for the Sabbath was another miracle.
It shows His character and nature as provider, and it reminds us He’s a God of order and follows the precedent He set to honor time to rest. It also speaks of His desire for us to have daily dependence on Him. We’re wired to work hard, be successful, and only depend on ourselves. We take matters into our own hands. Mind you, it’s good and holy and right to work, but we’re finite beings who need to rest. When we give up a day in order to rest, it positions our hearts towards obedience and surrender to our Father in heaven.
I think what I love most about the concept of the Sabbath is the reminder that I’m human and can’t do it all, but Jesus is enough. In fact, adding on to the bread in the wilderness metaphor, Jesus declared in John 6:35 (NIV), “I am the bread of life.” He promises that whoever comes to Him will never be hungry. We don’t have to gather manna every morning, but what a relief to know that we can come to Jesus every day for what we need!
Pause: Are you able to rest? Do you take a day off each week to do things that fill your soul, don’t feel like work, and bring you closer to God? What can you do to start carving out time to rest?
Practice: If you can’t start with a full 24 hours of rest, try starting with a block of time. Maybe it’s an evening or a morning where you don’t check your e-mail or phone and instead go for a walk outside, cook a nice meal, or play a game with friends or family. Spend a little extra time in prayer or incorporate resting around the time you spend at church each week. Gradually, add a few hours to your block of time until you’re able to have 24 hours of rest.
Pray: God I thank You that I can understand Your character and nature through the Bible. You love me so much! I acknowledge that You value rest and I see that You want to be in relationship with me daily. Help me to live a life dependent on You alone. Give me the discipline to practice resting as I posture my heart in submission, trust, and obedience to You. Amen.
Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.