What child doesn’t look forward to recess? With the exception of those who might be bullied, judged, or gossiped about (which is another topic for the lunch table, hint hint), most children love recess. It is a wonderful time during the day when they can rest from their book learning and actually interact with those around them and even rest their minds. Our society recognizes this need for rest by requiring mandatory breaks throughout the day, whether at school during recess or at the office or job site; and studies show that breaks throughout the day away from one’s work increases productivity. Continuing with the school theme we began in August, let us examine the importance for the student of Christ to make sure they take a recess from their daily work as well.
Sabbath Rest Created
So the heavens and the earth and everything in them were completed. By the seventh day God completed His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work that He had done. God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, for on it He rested from His work of creation. Genesis 2:1-3
In the bible study, Breathe: Making Room for the Sabbath, Priscilla Shirer, after referencing a 20th-century Jewish rabbi’s thoughts regarding this rest that God entered into on the 7th day, makes this statement:
The 7th day wasn’t the Sabbath day until God made it so. God did, in fact, introduce a concept that did not previously exist: Rest. Menuha. On the Sabbath day, He provided a portrait of fulfillment, completeness and blessing that would be the framework for Sabbath in generations to come. The purpose of God’s Sabbath day was not to put up His proverbial feet, take a load off, and chill out after creating the universe in the previous days. He wasn’t tired. He was expressing satisfaction. Creation was complete, so He rested. And in doing so, He introduced the concept of rest to humanity.
God’s work was complete when He created rest. As a student of Christ, we should be able to walk onto the playground and rest from the work we have been striving so hard to complete. God’s example is that our work is complete when we can rest in the work that has already been done.
Sabbath Rest Commanded
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy. Exodus 20:8-10
Did you see who was commanded not to work? Sons, daughters, male and female slaves, livestock and foreigners. All people and even animals were told to break from their work. This weekend our nation will celebrate Labor Day as a way of honoring hardworking Americans. The weekend will be filled with students and workers who have been given a four-day weekend to rest and relax from their everyday duties and responsibilities. There will be multiple opportunities for people to invest in the relationships around them because of the recess that is given to our society through Labor Day. It is also why the Sabbath lends itself so freely to being able to love God and love others more.
Marva Dawn in her book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly includes this benefit during the Sabbath:
This is what we celebrate on the Sabbath day. We join the generations of believers—going all the way back to God’s people, the Jews—who set aside a day to remember that we are precious and honored in God’s sight and loved, profoundly love, not because of what we produce.
To celebrate God’s love on our Sabbaths also transforms us so that we can more deeply value others in the same way. When we are not under the compulsion to be productive, we are given the time to dwell with others, to be with them and thereby to discover who they are.
Recess, Sabbath, allows the student to be more intentional in their focus on love for God as well as a love for those around them.
Sabbath Rest Created for Man
On the Sabbath He was going through the grain fields, and His disciples began to make their way picking some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry—how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the sacred bread—which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests—and also gave some to his companions?” Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Mark 2:23-28
Anytime there is a discussion of Sabbath among evangelicals, the issue of legalism arises. Yes, Jesus did “work” on the Sabbath, but in His own words as read above, the Sabbath was made for man and as we read in Genesis and Exodus, God Himself has declared it holy and placed great importance on it. The regular practice of taking a Sabbath is not to become legalistic or ritual, but to give freedom to the individual. Through a consistent rhythm of keeping a Sabbath, Dawn wisely states: “God’s design of the Sabbath rhythm was never meant to impose a legalistic duty.” Therefore, the student of Christ should not shy away from the rest that the Teacher created, but embrace it and implement it in their growing walk with the Lord. When the student does, they will experience a freedom like no other.
Sabbath Rest Brings Freedom
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28),” is always a comfort to those seemingly stressed out and anxious ridden individuals. However, how many truly follow through and obey? We are reminded of this obedience to rest in the book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly when Calvin Miller states: “Learn to obey. Only he who obeys a rhythm superior to his own is free.”
We can only be truly free and find ultimate rest when we actually obey the Teacher. We have to make every effort to enter into the rest God created for us, or we are in danger of fallen into a pattern of disobedience, even in the pursuit of being obedient as Hebrews warns us:
Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9-11
God is not lazy. He actually knows how to rest!! He created rest!! So this weekend, while many are off from their normal job responsibilities and time with friends and family remember to take some time to rest in the care of God’s hand. God will give you the rest He knows you need.
Enjoy the recess the Master Teacher has created for you!!
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