Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand at the Gate of the People, through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates. 21 This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.
I’ve never considered myself to be a workaholic. I have seen my fair share of people who prefer to be busy, or who need to have a schedule packed to the brim as to not waste a moment; but personally— whether it’s due to my personality, my location (sunny San Diego), or something deeper—I’m not like that. However, this past year brought a lot of changes and transitions in my life, and with that came a myriad of new responsibilities. As work piled up, I found myself getting busier and busier. There was always something that needed to be done or needed to be thought through—and this made it easy to forgo taking any sort of meaningful Sabbath. Why set aside an entire day away from work when that would just leave more to get back to the next day?
Of course, we’re supposed to find our rest in God, and my foolishness in the above account is immediately apparent, even as I’m writing it. We observe the Sabbath day to refresh and refocus our hearts, to remember God’s covenant and creation, and to realize our dependence on Him to sustain us through our communion. God created the Sabbath as a blessing, although it’s easy for us to dismiss it as an unnecessary luxury, or worse, an inconvenience.
Some of us may really love being busy, to the point that we idolize it; while others, like me, might just find themselves gradually with more things to do. That’s where we see the beauty of the Sabbath. Where an every-day work week may have been the norm, God commanded the Israelites to set apart one day without working; he was disrupting their normal perspective of work. In our context, it’s easy to feel good about spending time working and being productive. Conversely, it’s difficult for us to spend an entire day producing nothing tangible with our time and effort, because we feel unproductive. I believe it’s just for that reason why God mentions discipline in this passage—because He knows that even resting in the Lord is something that does not come naturally to us. Instead of being grateful to be able to spend time with God, we become agitated at having to “waste” time we could be spending doing other things. But God wants us to experience real rest. And for us to experience this real rest on a regular basis, it takes discipline—the discipline to stop working and to take a step back to remember God.
Prayer: Lord, I know it’s easy for me to fill my time with things that seem productive and important. And I know You haven’t put me where I am today just to disregard my responsibilities. But God, I want to trust that prioritizing You, finding my rest in You, and committing my time to spend with You, are all going to lead to more spiritual riches for me to reap. Help me to trust You enough to make time and space for You during the week. Fill me up so I can keep pouring out for You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Ezekiel 44
Lunch Break Study
Exodus 31:12-17 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. 14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”
Questions to Consider
- What are the reasons God lists for the Israelites to observe the Sabbath?
- How did the Israelites set apart the Sabbath?
- How can you set apart the Sabbath?
- It is a sign of the covenant between God and Israel for future generations; it is to know God; it is holy to the Israelites; it is holy to the Lord; it is a day of rest; and it is reflective of God’s six days of creation and seventh day of rest.
- It was simple—they refrained from working that day. The Sabbath was to be so holy and set apart that anyone who worked on that day was to be put to death. This would have been presumably in the context of pagan neighbors who were continuing to work.
- Personal response.
We tend to forget the Sabbath because we forget that God is the One who gives us true rest. Instead, we turn to entertainment, traveling, fitness, gaming, and other activities to refresh us. Spend some time asking God to refocus your heart on Him, and that He may continue to give you abundant life.