September 17, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”—Exodus 20:8–11 (NIV)
Have you ever had someone make something just for you? Maybe someone made your favorite meal or cake for your birthday or maybe your kid made you a super special craft or drawing. Whatever it is, there’s nothing like getting a gift that was made just for you.
Today’s passage lays out the fourth commandment. Now, while every commandment serves to both glorify the Lord and benefit us, we’re told by Jesus that this commandment in particular was a special, personal gift from God! In Mark 2:27 (NLT), He says, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath is defined as “a time of rest.” It’s a day where everyone is commanded to stop working and rest. God modeled this for us when He made the universe in six days and then rested. Was He tired? No. He was setting an example.
How so? Well, it’s often said there aren’t enough hours in a week. But is that true? Consider your average week. Here’s mine:
That which drains . . .
That which refreshes . . .
* Research shows that time in front of a screen is more detrimental than it is beneficial.
Do you see the disparity in the draining activities vs. life-giving ones? Almost twice as long. Not enough sleep, so much wasted time. Even on weekends, I end up cleaning, running errands, doing random projects that need to get done, taking the kids to events, and participating in stuff. I’m my own worst enemy! But even if I were given more hours daily, I know I’d waste them.
On our own, we’re not capable of doing what’s best for us, to rest physically, mentally, and spiritually. Instead, we do what overworks, overstimulates, and overwhelms. So, God gave us a gift dressed up as a commandment—He commands we rest, to trust He will sustain and provide for all our needs as He refreshes us and we enjoy Him. So you see, Sabbath rest is both an act of faith and an act of joy!
Shabath also means “to celebrate”—something we often miss about the Sabbath. It’s not just a day to not work, it’s a day to delight. In Sabbath, we delight in the Lord, in the people He’s surrounded us with, and in the blessings He provided the previous six days. It’s a directive to delight in the life God has created you for and in God Himself. It’s a day to behold and be grateful, to experience rest, be refreshed, recharged, and restored in the presence of the Redeemer. Sabbath is a gift, a promise of provision, and a necessity for genuine physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wholeness. May we cease squandering it!
Pause: Why is the institution of the Sabbath a gift from God and not just a law? What makes this one so difficult for us to properly honor?
Practice: As I did above, make an honest assessment of your week, broken down by hours. How much time do you spend at work? In front of a screen? Running errands or doing activities? Doing chores? How much time do you rest? Sleep? Spend engaged in spiritual disciplines like devotion, prayer, and worship? How often do you attend church or experience Christian community? After honestly evaluating, pray and ask the Lord to help you shift your priorities, adjust your schedules, and enjoy Sabbath rest.
Pray: Father, Lord of the Sabbath, thank You for such a personal, beautiful, life-giving gift. Thank You for the Sabbath. Thank You for instituting a consistent holy, set apart day of reflection and restoration, of thanksgiving and refreshing community, and of quality time with You! May I keep this day as holy as You do, may I no longer take this gift for granted, and may I commit to resting in Your grace, goodness, and provision. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.