Sabbath RestApril 27th, 2012 by Lauren Lombard
I once heard a story about how various week lengths were implemented to try to increase income and productivity by working more days between breaks. They found however, that this was not at all effective. Rather than the desired result of increased revenue from more working days, they found that productivity dropped off dramatically at the end of the lengthened week, and was no more profitable than before. In addition to this, the workers were not able to maintain this altered week long-term without falling prey to illness and mental breakdowns. No matter what combination was tried, they found that the 7-day-week worked best after all. (An example of this is a 10-day week that was implemented after the French Revolution).
Even now we try to manipulate creation to adjust to how we think it should be—just as the Pharisees did. We were created together with the Sabbath to meld in perfect harmony. God created the Sabbath yet we still try to impose our own thoughts and ideas on this day. Jesus emphasized His authority by saying: “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:8 (NKJV)
A favorite college professor of mine, Chris Blake, once told me something that really stuck with me. He said: “People often think that we have the week to prepare for the Sabbath, but they miss the fact that it’s the Sabbath that prepares us for the week, not the other way around.” There is something about those hours that recharge us…that restore us. God longs to spend time with us and it’s this time that affords us glimpses into the character of God and helps to sustain us through the days ahead.
As we struggle away trying to do things in our own strength Jesus says: “Learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29. But what does it say at the beginning of this passage? “Take my yoke upon you…” We associate a yoke with force and restriction, but this yoke of faith and obedience is what truly sets us free. The Sabbath is the absence of calculated efforts, the absence of worry, the essence of rest.
Author and speaker Ty Gibson recently said: “The Sabbath conveys salvation as an act of creation. Sabbath rest is the gospel enfolded in a weekly rest period.” Creation and salvation all wrapped up? That’s kind of mind blowing isn’t it? A verse that comes to mind is Isaiah 30:15 that says: “ For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’” I always thought of this as trusting in God, but as I recalled this verse, it spoke to me about Sabbath rest.
I understand that Shabbat (the Hebrew word for Sabbath) means to cease, to end, to rest. In essence, it means to stop. I am so thankful for the Sabbath, this crowning jewel of creation. An intimate time which God invites us to spend with Him. May we indeed stop. And may we find true rest.