Keeping it Holy (Seven Ways to Keep the Seventh Day)
First Things First
It is interesting to see that the first thing God did after 6 long days of creating the universe and everything in it (to include the human race) was to take a break and kick back with his newly formed people(Genesis 2:2). It doesn’t take a professional theologian to notice that the reason God “rested” on the seventh day was by choice and not because he was worn out. (This is profound and we should take note of it. The God of all creation just got through whipping up a universe (that we still don’t fully understand) and would make spending time with us his first priority after it was done is incredible!)
God apparently became quite fond of his little “take a day of the week off” idea and worked it into Ten Commandments. He liked it so much that he was deathly serious about us keeping it (just look at the fiasco in Exodus 16:29). So he made this Sabbath tradition to be an everlasting (Leviticus 24:8) act of sanctification of His people.
However, before we dive too deep into the seven ways to keep the seventh day there are a few things we need to know about the Sabbath. Firstly, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it was made for man and not for God (Mark 2:27). We are not divine and are still creatures of this earth. We need our rest much more than we often realize or admit. God knows this and has engineered our bodies for this need to humble us.
Secondly, God is the provider of the Sabbath day. Which means he makes it possible. There may be work to be done “that you just MUST get to” before Monday morning, but God makes it clear that he won’t let your life go crumbling down (unless it needs to) just because you closed the laptop, turned off the phone, and took a good ole Sabbath. So trust him and obey, after all this is for your good, not his (see the paragraph above.)
Thirdly, don’t miss the point. This is a spiritual event to commemorate your salvation and God’s awesome power. Don’t go all Pharisee on us and turn it into drudging legalism that suffocates the soul. Jesus constantly fought them about him healing, eating, or doing pretty much anything on the Sabbath because they had taken following the rules to a whole new level. Don’t be that guy.
Now, the Seven Ways to Keep the Seventh Day
- Remember it and Set it Apart This one is pretty simple, yet profound. This is an everlasting promise that God has with his people. He is our author and creator and for some reason, He wants to spend time with us! So we “keep it holy” by making it the most special day of the week. There are things we do on the Sabbath that we don’t normally do on the other days of the week. In order for this to work, you have to actually BE DOING SOMETHING the other six days for the Sabbath to be special. That means you need to work, be working out, have home projects you do, whatever it is God has laid before you, pursue it with all your heart, mind, and soul for six days out of the seven, because that is how you prepare for an awesome Sabbath with your Creator.
- Rest and Relaxation Yes, you can sleep in. One of the smartest things that has happened in churches is the 11:00 am service. The rest of the day should be casual, nothing overly stressful with plenty of quite, quality time that will facilitate time with your friends, family, and recuperation from the daily battle you faced the other six days of the week. Go casual, loaf around, and just enjoy being a human alive under God’s grace. Don’t think about all the various things that you have to get done, the challenges you will face the next week, or be consumed with any worries. Give those to God and just enjoy his blessings for a day.
- Talk to God By yourself and with other people. Come up with a system to just adore God for a day. This doesn’t mean that you must be down by your bed on your knees (though nothing is wrong with that), it could be simply taking a walk through the woods or a park. Enjoy looking through old photo albums of people that you care about or take a drive and appreciate the diversity in the human race as you roll through different neighborhoods. Drink in his creation and think about how awesome he is to have designed all the intricacies that you see, then let him know about it. Think about the good things in your life that you have enjoyed and thank him. Think about the bad things in your life that you have been challenged with and thank him for creating situations that humbles you, causing you to rely on him all the more. Gather with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or just friends and talk to God. This is what Sabbath is all about, time with God.
- Take Time to Learn, pay attention in church, listen to a podcast, read a blog, or even a book. Crack open the Bible and just browse through one of the many stories in there, prayerfully considering what God may have for you in each passage. Sabbath is about spending time and appreciating God, one of the best ways to do that is by simply learning about Him. What’s an area that you have always been curious about, but never seemed to have the time to google and read up on it? Apologetics? Reformed Theology? Noah’s flood? Cuss words and farts in the Bible? What about that John the Baptist guy? Embrace your little curiosities because they are often Gods way of teaching you things that you would otherwise never encounter in formal settings and literature. The Sabbath is a day that is perfectly designed for this.
- Talk, Teach, Explain something to another believer. Sometimes we learn best through just simply talking to one another about what God has and is doing in our lives. Maybe we have just had a spiritual encounter or have just haven’t really felt the presence of God in a long time. Talk about it. One of the reoccurring themes concerning the Sabbath in the Bible is community. Whether it’s going with the family to make a burnt offering at the Tabernacle or the Early Church locked in an upper room together eating, community is always one of the key ingredients to a successful Sabbath. Tell other people something neat that God showed you this week. Tell other believers that God hasn’t shown you anything new and neat lately. Come as you are and just embrace the fact that we are all sinners, fallen in need of grace and just talk. Its really that simple.
- Do a Good Work , even better if you can do it and get away without anyone knowing you did it. Pull the neighbors trash can back up the driveway or pick up some trash. Be a servant and don’t be boastful about it. Pay for the guy behind you in the drive through or that family across the restaurant. Park in the back of the parking lot and let someone else have the space close to the door. Mow the grass for the neighbor that’s out of town. Serve and ask God to hide your deed from the world so that only He may know what you did. Worship God through actions like this and feel your walk with him deepen just a little more.
- PARTY, that’s right, drink some wine (though you will have to preplan and get it the day before if you live in the Bible belt). Feast with your family and friends (which means you can’t pig out the other six days a week, or else the Sabbath wouldn’t be holy). Go out and have a steak. Stay in and cook with everyone you love. Go to bed well rested with a full belly and a full, humble heart. It is interesting to note that the Sabbath is often included or referenced in several of the Old Testament passages about festivals. The Sabbath should be a mini-holiday every week. God created us for good times (he uses the bad times to sanctify us and push us up another degree of glory) and the Sabbath should always be a good time. When I was a teenager we used to always ride four wheelers on Sunday afternoons. It grew us as a church group. We would eat whatever we could get our hands on and then go racing through cow pastures. Fellowship of any sort should be a key ingredient to your Sabbath day.