Keeping the Sabbath holy: How we can rest in a way that honours God


Exodus 20:8 tells us, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." It sounds simple enough, but take a look through the long list of things to do and not to do on a Sabbath day in the Mosaic Law and it may not be as simple as we think! There are rituals, food laws, a long list of prohibitions and so on.

Many of the Sabbath laws are no longer binding today, but one thing we can learn from all of these guidelines written in the Bible is that rest matters to God. In fact, rest is of highest value to God.

The Bible tells us that even God Himself chooses to rest (Genesis 2:2), not because He is tired or sleepy but because rest is enjoyable and the natural outworking of a time of good, honest work. Here are some points to remember about rest that will give us a strong understanding of God's concept of rest.

Rest in Jesus Christ

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Jesus invites us to rest not just for the sake of taking a break, but He wants us to rest at His feet. That means being centered on Him, being mindful of Him, having a close relationship with Him.  This gives us the opportunity to grow in our relationship with Christ and to stay atuned to His capacity and His will for us.

Jesus, not the walk in the park or even the sofa, is the starting point of our rest. Without Jesus, there can be no rest because God declares in Isaiah 48:22, "'There is no peace,' says the Lord, 'for the wicked.'" But in Jesus, we are no longer wicked but are made whole and sanctified through His precious blood.

Rest as a sign of trust in God

Many people find it hard to rest because there is a need to meet deadlines, finish projects, make more money or run operations even on days off. God asks us to rest and give Him the responsibility of keeping our things in order.

In fact, when we put things in God's hands, they may even go better than when we are in charge. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."  But we also need to do our part?  Are we working hard when we're supposed to be working hard?  Or did we let our schedule slip because we got distracted checking Facebook or chatting with colleagues one too many times at the drinks machine.  Do as much as you can on the days of the week God has designated for work and resist the urge to check those work emails until Monday.  

Rest to enjoy God and His blessings

The reason why God rested on the seventh day of creation was so that He could enjoy a day with His all of his creation and with Adam. Jesus desires for us to rest so that we can enjoy Him and all the blessings that come through Him -- our family, relationships, leisure, hobbies and talents.  If you are giving thanks for your blessings, enjoying them and investing your love back into them, how can you fail to feel rested!