For observant Jews who strictly keep the Sabbath, that day is set apart like no other. No work is performed and even travel is limited to walking a short distance.
I am a Gentile. Does the Sabbath apply to me? “… for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17 HCSB)
As a Christian, I believe the Bible. I know God rested on the seventh day. He sanctified it and gave that day as a gift to humanity. (Genesis 2:1-3) The Law shows us how God thinks about things and it informs our values. My tradition and upbringing honor Sunday as The Lord’s Day, the day Christ arose, not the Sabbath. Have I been wrong?
For weeks the Lord has been speaking to me about the idea of Sabbath. Let me explain that. I don’t mean I’m hearing an audible voice. Rather, I’m seeing unmistakable signposts that keep occurring, drawing my attention to the same subject. It began when I told my wife, “I need a vacation.” I am not over-worked but I do feel weary, as from long-haul labor, more tired mentally than physically.
I think the Lord heard me and began showing me an answer. In one day, I had three different people discuss Sabbath with me. One was a Messianic Jew; one was a Seventh Day Adventist; another was a Bible teacher-Christian missionary. Then I noticed a book on our church library shelf, "The Rest of God" by Mark Buchanan. OK Lord, I’m beginning to get the picture.
We modern Americans live in a fast-paced society. We live outside the healthy rhythm that God established in the beginning when He rested the seventh day. Our Creator placed into our world the boundaries of day and night, seasons of seedtime and harvest, and one day a week to rest. If we don’t get in tune with this rhythm, we burn out or wear out. Stress fractures occur in our souls or disease in our bodies.
Being a Christian won’t protect you from the exhaustion of non-stop labor. With electricity and technology, our work doesn’t stop at sundown. Global commerce continues 24 hours a day. We don’t rest because its winter while we wait for spring. We go day and night, months without end, and never stop. Vacation requires two weeks because the first week we are so revved up we can’t slow down.
So I am listening to the Lord as He helps me establish a new boundary, a holy place in time that will keep me at my peak for the long race set before me. For me, that may be a special day set apart, some quiet time for meditation, more quality time with my family, and certainly, freedom from interruption by the phone.
Cessation of labor, even for a day, is a real challenge to me because in once sense my work never ends. There is always more to do, more people to contact. So the question is this: Do I believe God’s word? Do I trust Him that if I truly rest one day, He will provide for me? Is the Lord waiting for me in His place of rest?
I will never keep the Sabbath like the Jews do, but the principle of rest on the seventh day is important. I realize that I have been violating God’s code for life as I ignore this truth. But now I am beginning my own Sabbath day’s journey.
Ron Wood is pastor of Trinity Assembly of God in Meridian. Hear pastor Ron each Sunday at 8 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. on WZKR SuperTalk radio at 103.3 on the FM dial. Join us at Trinity Assembly for Ministry Training Class Wednesday at 11 a.m. and for Sunday Family Worship at 10:45 a.m. Our website is www.trinitymeridian.com.