God rested on the Seventh Day
This past Sunday we were all challenged by the text from Hebrews 4 concerning sabbath. People have become eager to tell me two important facts about their week: 1) they are not tired and 2) their schedule is really not that busy. One of the things that I have noticed personally is that my family schedule becomes more of a challenge each year.
A few weeks back my wife and I started filling out the calendar on Sunday evening for the upcoming week. We try our best to be exhaustive and include every detail. Unfortunately after reflecting over Hebrews 4 one major detail that we have not included is down time. You know very well that if you don’t plan for down time it will never happen. Hebrews 4 is a healthy reminder that God established the rhythm of working six days and resting one day. In fact, Hebrews 4:4 is a quote from Genesis 2:2 and it serves to remind the church that this rhythm of work and rest should be essential because it was modeled by creator God.
As I consider the fourth commandment I often think that this is the one out of all ten that should be easy. It is perplexing but there is something in our nature that finds it difficult to rest. The American culture comes close to idolizing a busy life. We feel guilty to say that we are taking time off or resting. Unfortunately we fail to truly understand God’s command to “remember the sabbath and to keep it holy.” Sabbath is more than simply laying on the beach and scrolling through Facebook. We live in seven day units to remember on the seventh day that God is creator that rested after six days of creating. The sabbath also serves to remind the people of God that He sustains the universe and is the provider of all good things. Throughout Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 we see that disbelief prohibits entry into God’s rest.
It is important to remember that the rest identified in Hebrews and throughout the New Testament is the “rest” of salvation. It is also important to remember that there is never a command given in the New Testament to keep the sabbath. All commandments are repeated in the New Testament except the forth commandment. At this point I think it is important to also consider the words of Romans 14:5-9 One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
The point I want to stress is that we keep sabbath not because it is one of the top 10 but simply because it was modeled by God at creation. Violating the sabbath was never observed by the leaders of New Testament church and that should speak volumes for those who stress keeping the sabbath as a religious observance today. Yes we should be wise and keep an eye on our schedule. We should absolutely remember that God is creator, sustainer and giver of all good things. However, Hebrews 3 and 4 teaches us that we have been freed from the penalty of sin and by His grace we can enter His rest.
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