March 31, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“A Day of Rest”

Exodus 16:23

He said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord.’”

Vance Havner used to look over the top of his glasses and say to his congregation, “If you don’t come apart, you will come apart.”  

While not all stress is bad for us, too much of it over too long a period can be a killer.  Literally. Most of us are wound pretty tight, which can result in everything from mild anger and irritation all the way to road rage and even a complete emotional breakdown.  The old Greek motto wasn’t far off: “You will break the bow if you keep it always bent.”

For centuries, the people of Israel had lived in slavery to the Egyptians.  They did not have three-day weekends or any vacations. Their lives consisted of working to build Pharaoh’s kingdom.  When God freed His people and called them to worship Him in the desert, He set a new pattern for their lives. Rather than following an endless pattern of work, eat, and sleep, they were to take one day off each week, to rest.

The Lord whom they met in the desert was very different form the slave-driving Pharaoh.  They were compelled to be slaves in Egypt, but they were invited into a covenant relationship with God in the desert.  They had to make bricks for Pharaoh who refused to give them straws, but they received free bread from God every morning in the desert.  They worked endlessly for Pharaoh, but they were commanded to take a day of rest as part of their relationship with God. The Lord was so intent on blessing them that he even preserved their sabbath day bread from the previous day.  

Israel was to set aside time and space to make room for God to live among them.  God’s presence came with the promise of peace, blessing, and flourishing for all (shalom).  Israel would not have seen this as an oppressive command, but as a gift of grace.  

God Himself was the very first Sabbath keeper.  God “rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”  It was God who first started the rhythm of six days of work followed by one day of rest.  He is the one who established the pattern in the beginning. And because we have been made in his image (Gn. 1:27), that pattern is built into the very fabric of who we are.  Our lives, in order to reflect the life of the Creator, are to follow that same “six-and-one” pattern of work and rest.

Have we set aside time in our busy lives to make room for God?   How do you try to observe the Sabbath in a way to reflects the character of God?

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, on the seventh day, You looked out over all that You had created and declared it good!  May we follow the pattern of work and rest that You began. May we remember that true sabbath rest is found in the work of Christ alone.  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Acts 25

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