Having established a pattern or work in our lives we are now ready to look at Sabbath and the implications of seventh day rest to our lives.
History of the Sabbath...
In Genesis we have the first mention of something that somehow relates to the law of Sabbath.
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
After six days of creating, God, on the seventh day rests from all his work.
He blesses the seventh day and making it Holy.
He creates a new type of time or a new state of being – a state and a time of rest.
The seventh day is a new period of time, a new session, a new state, which is blessed and is Holy.
Its creation in its completed and good state.
This seventh day state of rest is not just a day but is ordered creation as God intended things to be.
- Where man and God now dwell together.
- A time of right relationship with God, with each other (Adam & Eve), with oneself, and with creation.
- Where everything is as it was created and meant to be.
- Where one worked, but not a work of labour and toil, but of fruitfulness and dominion, humankind as stewards over creation.
- It’s a state of rest in that creation is complete and now can be enjoyed, developed, savoured, and celebrated.
Then in Genesis 3 we have the fall.
Humanity falls short of all God desired and created them to be.
As a result God pronounces some serious curses on Satan, Eve, and Adam, on humanity and all of creation.
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Sin now has a massive foothold in the world.
- Man and God no longer dwell together like that used to.
- There is failure of relationship.
- No longer right relationship with God, self, each other, or with creation.
- Fruitfulness and dominion, is now painful toil, sweat, thorns and thistles.
- Nothing is as it was created and meant to be.
This seventh day state of rest is now lost. That which was blessed and holy is now cursed.
Moving from Genesis now to Exodus and Deuteronomy we discover God commanding the Israelites to keep the Sabbath, to keep a day of rest.
8"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall work and do all your work, 10but 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. 11For 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.
Here in Exodus, the seventh day of Genesis has now been substituted for the term Sabbath.
- Therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
- Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
The Sabbath is essentially a celebration and imitation of God’s resting on the seventh day after the previous six days of the creation narrative.
The Israelites remember the Sabbath, they take a day to rest and cease from work in imitation of God.
They rest even as God rested.
Although it may be all these things, the…
Sabbath is not about relief from work.
Sabbath is not about rest in order to be more efficient in one’s work.
Sabbath is not about a massive sleep in so you can recover from last week and get ready for next week.
The Sabbath is about remembering that there is more to life than work.
It’s about remembering that God worked for six days only in order to create the seventh day state of rest in which humanity could be fruitful, take dominion, and relate with God, self, each other, can creation as they were designed to do.
Through the remembrance and observing of Sabbath rest, the Israelites remembered and worshiped God, (not worship as in band and song, or service) worship as in lifestyle that prescribes worth to God.
Through rest they remembered, worshiped, and honoured God as creator God, and remember than in fact creation was good, and that the work of creation was in order that God and man could dwell together.
The Israelites remember the wonder of the seventh day state of rest that God originally created.
They rest for a day and symbolically enter that rest of the seventh day, knowing that it has been lost, but that it was always God’s intention for humanity.
They celebrate that God is faithful in that he is working towards restoring things to as they once were as well.
That God still desires to dwell in relationship with humanity.
We now go to Exodus 21:12-17.
12 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 abstained from work and rested.' "
Here we see that as well as keeping the Sabbath as an imitation of God...
The Israelites kept the Sabbath as a sign and reminder of their unique relationship with covenant God.
They are to remember that God is the one who blesses them and makes them holy, even in the same way that he blessed and made the Sabbath, the seventh day holy.
That God has set them apart as a special people and is going to restore the original rest and blessing of the seventh day of creation to them.
Even though that was lost God is going to somehow recreate and re-establish things as they are meant to be.
They remember that God is the covenant keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
He is the God that they are making a covenant with at Mount Sinai.
They remember the promises of God to Abraham.
God is the God who has and will bless them in order that they might be a blessing.
They can trust in his promises and his faithfulness.
These things are remembered and celebrated through the Sabbath.
We now go to Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 14 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
Here we have a third reason why the Israelites are to observe and remember the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a memorial of God’s faithfulness in delivering them from the captivity and slavery of Egypt.
The analogy is that six days the Israelites worked, laboured as slaves, but on the seventh day God delivered them and brought them into rest, brought them into a place of freedom.
God delivered the Israelites from slavery back into a place of freedom, and dominion, and relationship, beginning with deliverance from Egypt to the wilderness and completed upon entry into the Promised Land of Canaan.
They celebrate that God is restoring and bringing them back to the seventh day rest of Genesis 2:1-3.
So for the Israelites…
The Sabbath is…
- An imitation of God’s rest and a reminder of how God intended creation to be.
- A reminder that life is not about work but about community and relationship, with God, with others, with self, and with creation.
- A reminder that God is the creator God, worthy of all worship and that creation was good.
The Sabbath is…
- A reminder that God is a faithful covenant keeping God.
- A reminder that God has chosen them as his covenant people, that he will bless them in order that all the nations of the world might be blessed.
- A reminder that God’s desire is to dwell amongst and with them, that he will be their God and they will be his people.
The Sabbath is…
- A reminder that God delivered them from Egypt, from slavery.
- That God is a faithful deliverer.
- That God will bring them again into the rest he originally intended for all creation, which for Israel is pictured in the Promised Land.
To be continued...