We Need Sabbath Rest

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Picture of a man resting on a park bench

Among other things in today’s Bible reading*, God expounds on the Fourth Commandment: Sabbath Rest

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female servant, your livestock, or the resident alien who is within your city gates.
Exodus 20:8–10 (CSB)

Of all of the “Big Ten” that God gave Moses, this Commandment is probably the most frequently abused by God’s people today. The Sabbath is the Seventh Day of the week which is Saturday. When Jesus rose from the dead on the First Day of the week, His disciples began worshiping together on Sunday in addition to going to the Temple or Synagogue on Saturday. Then when Gentiles became Christians, Sunday became the predominant day of Christian worship.

The principle of Sabbath rest was initiated when God rested after the Six Days of Creation. God didn’t need to rest because He was tired. He’s the Almighty God! Instead, He rested as a model for His creation.

Notice in today’s reading that God even wants the land to rest in the seventh year; there is to be no planting or harvesting that year. Instead, the fields are to rest and whatever orphan crops grow can be taken by the poor and wild animals. God even says that work animals need to rest every seven years. (Exodus 23:10-12)

For God to spend so much time talking about Sabbath rest, it must be pretty important, huh?

In Twenty-first Century Western society, we generally have a five-day workweek. In recent years, the two days off have been split during the week for the convenience of the employer, but their employees only go to work five days each week. That’s true for people who only have one job. But people are increasingly having to take on more than one job to make ends meet.

But for most of us, we’re off on Saturday and Sunday. the weekend is generally set aside for rest. But do we? Unfortunately, with all of the kids’ sports and other leisure activities on the weekends, I think most of us are so busy on our days “off” that we find it helpful to go to work so we can get some rest. For many people when they take a vacation, they have to work more the weeks before and after the vacation to make up for the week off.


My in-laws recently bought a new oven with “Sabbath Mode”. Yes, that’s a thing! I learned that ovens and other major appliances with a “Sabbath Mode” help remind Jewish and other Sabbath-keeping religions that they need to rest.

How about you? Do you practice the principle of Sabbath rest? I’m not talking about religiously and legalistically not doing work on Saturday. Again, I’m talking about the principle of Sabbath rest.

God thought it was a big deal to rest. Perhaps one of the reasons our bodies have so many stress-related illnesses is that we don’t rest enough. Perhaps God built it into our bodies to need rest. Many people are talking about our need for “Self-care” in light of all of the additional stresses that the Coronavirus Pandemic had on so many of us.

Prayerfully consider taking a day off. Don’t do any work. Don’t do any yard work. Don’t do any housework. Don’t plan a trip.

Just. Rest.

You may find resting more difficult than you would have thought. At the end of a day of truly resting, prayerfully consider how you might incorporate more Sabbath rest into your life.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
– Exodus 22
– Exodus 23
– Exodus 24

This devotional was originally published on February 9, 2021.

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