Tag Archives: Exodus 20:9-11

Evangelism and Physical Fitness: What the Sabbath Rest Is

16 Aug

Last week, in “What the Sabbath Rest Isn’t”, we discussed the pattern of rest God established for His followers as well as how that pattern became corrupted.  But recognizing what the Sabbath isn’t doesn’t always help us when it comes to recognizing what the Sabbath is… or even whether it’s something that (medical evidence aside) ought to be observed by believers today. Was the Sabbath merely meant to be the Jewish equivalent of a “day off”?  Or was it intended to be something more?  And if it was, are there consequences involved with ignoring it?

For the answer to these questions, we must turn first to the Ten Commandments.  (Exodus 20)  Delivered to Moses on Mt. Sinai, these ten basic rules outlined the behavior which God expected from His people.  More than just a set of guidelines for righteous living (or, as Paul would later point out in Romans 3:20, a spotlight to help identify sinful behavior), these commands set the parameters for our relationship with God.  They helped the Israelites identify those behaviors which would either deepen or destroy the intimacy they enjoyed with their Creator.

If you’ve taken the time to thoroughly read the New Testament, you’ve probably noticed that each of these commandments is repeated… but with a single exception: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of Jehovah thy God.”  (Exodus 20:9-10a)  Why isn’t there a Sabbath command to be found in all of the teachings of Christ or His Apostles? 

While most of us are familiar with the initial giving of the commandments in Exodus, far fewer Christians are acquainted with the reiteration of these commands to be found in Deuteronomy.  It is here, in chapter 5, verses 12-15 that God explains to Israel that there is far more to this day of rest than simply relaxation.  Indeed, those who follow Him are commanded to, “Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.”  The reason for the Sabbath?  To remember Israel’s deliverance from slavery. 

Since not every member of the expanding Church was Jewish, it’s not surprising to find the Apostle Paul advocating the type of freedom which allowed believers the choice between observing the Sabbath or abstaining.  (Romans 14:4-6)  But even then, the issue wasn’t cut-and-dried.  Many believers both then and now continue to see a parallel between Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and our own deliverance from sin.  And if the Hebrew people were to celebrate the one on a weekly basis, how much more should we as Christians take time to celebrate the latter!

Next week, we’ll dig a bit deeper as we examine the relational nature of a Sabbath rest, but for now, feel free to share your own thoughts on the subject in the comment box below!

 

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Evangelism and Physical Fitness: Rest and the Biblical Case for Taking a Day Off

2 Aug

If sleep is important to our work as evangelists and faithful Christ-followers, then so is rest. Taking a day or even a few hours off at regular intervals allows our bodies to heal and our minds to refocus, spurring our creativity and opening our eyes to new possibilities.  Proper rest allows us the time to explore and enjoy the world around us.  It gives us the opportunity to marvel at God’s creative power and loving care.  And it opens the doors which allow us to better develop our relationships with both our Master and our fellow humans – both of which play a key role in our endeavors to share the Gospel.

For many of us, however, finding time to rest can be just as challenging as getting a good night’s sleep!  Between all of the things we have to do, how are we supposed to find time for the things we want to do?  And how do you create the opportunity for genuine rest when you have a brain that, like mine, never seems to turn itself off?  Do we just surrender to the realities of our modern world… or is there a better way?

To answer these questions, we need to begin with the understanding that God set a pattern for our rest early in the Scriptures.  Genesis 2:2 tells us that, “By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.”  That God intended this to be more than a moment of relaxation for Himself is evident; the following verse declares that, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

This sanctification is clarified in Exodus 20:9-11 in which Moses commands the Israelites, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.”  According to Jesus, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”  (Mark 2:27)  This day was intended to be a special gift from God to us… and it’s up to us to choose to accept it.

So how do we do that in a world packed with deadlines and schedules beyond our control?  Over the next few weeks, we’ll take some time to delve into the issues which help or hinder our ability to embrace the rest that God offers.  We’ll investigate what it means to properly observe the Sabbath, talk about the importance of setting boundaries between work and play, explore the value of developing and maintaining a few hobbies, and discuss what to do when opportunities for genuine rest are few and far between.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to drop us a note in the comment box below!  We’d love to hear about your own journey as we learn to embrace the gift of rest!

Evangelism and Physical Fitness: The Biblical Value of Sleep

12 Jul

In our fast-paced society, resting often gets the short shrift.  There are only twenty-four hours in the day and most of us wake up each morning with plenty of work to fill every one of them!  There are chores to be done, studies to be completed, relationships to be developed, and work to do.  Because of this, it really isn’t that surprising that nearly 41 million American workers (and many more American students) aren’t getting enough sleep![1]  Indeed, according to one recent survey, up to 83% of us aren’t getting quality rest on a regular basis.[2]  We know it’s bad for our health, but is it actually unbiblical?  And how does this lack of sleep influence our ability to fight our spiritual battle?

The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about the value of sleep and, while we might be drawn to passages like Proverbs 6:4-11, 10:5, and 19:15 to justify our lack of sleep, it is laziness, not sleep deprivation which the author is attacking.  Indeed, Scripture has much to say about the sweetness of sleep, particularly the type of sleep which is derived from a life lived in line with God’s commands.  Take, for example, Proverbs 3:19-24:

“The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up and the skies drip with dew. My son, let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck. Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

Or what about Proverbs 19:23?

“The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.”

The Apostle Paul asked the Corinthian church, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  Obedience to this command requires us not only to consider issues like our sexual practices and what we eat, but also how we care for our bodies in other ways through physical activity… and lack thereof.

God took special care in ordering our days to give us time for sleep and rest.  (Take a moment to look up the creation account in Genesis 1 or the Sabbath commands of Exodus 16:22-30, Exodus 20:9-11, and Deuteronomy 5:12-15 for greater details concerning the important rhythm of work and rest which God intended.)  For Christians, this means that we take the time to ensure that we are getting the rest we need.  But this isn’t just a random command; there are practical medical reasons for rest and those medical reasons can have a strong influence on our ability to effectively share God’s love with others.  We will take a look at a few of these reasons next week.  Meanwhile, take time to share a few of your own thoughts on the value of sleep in the comment box below!

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