Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.’
Exodus 31:13, NIV*
For a people liberated from slavery, being commanded to observe a weekly day of rest would be a definite switch.
The Old Testament is filled with visual aids: markers and activities that remind the people who God is and what He has done for them. Exodus 31:13-18 twice calls the Sabbath “a sign between us”.
Mark Buchanan (The Rest of God, Spiritual Rhythm) said recently that the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments that Christians don’t seem to think we need to keep. Not that we’re perfect at the other nine, but at least we either try or feel guilty about failing.
Ignoring the taint that legalism has given the Sabbath, I see some benefits to this gift from God:
- work without a break is not healthy
- identifying ourselves by our work isn’t healthy either
- allowing work to take first place—making it an idol—is dangerously unhealthy
- abstaining from work lets us be still and know that God is God, and it lets us seek Him
I think this is where the Sabbath (for Christians, Sunday or whatever day our work schedules allow us to observe) is a sign between us and God. It’s a spiritual marker that celebrates our freedom from slavery to the world’s ways and praises the God who rescued us.
And it reminds us that our God is good.
Holy and Almighty God, who chose Israel to show Your glory to the world, thank You for Jesus’ blood that makes a way for all people to belong to You. Thank You for the gift of Sabbath rest and its benefits to us. In the bigger picture, it’s still about revealing Your glory to all who can see: You rescue. Your way is best. You are a good Master.