Sabbath is a gift of time that God has given to humanity from the beginning. But it is only through faith that we can enjoy the rest offered by the Creator to our families.
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Continuing the series The 10 Commandments of the Family, we will see that Sabbath is sacred to God and how to practice the weekly rest discipline with our family.
Sabbath is the secret to avoiding fatigue. And its benefit goes far beyond recharging your energy, but it serves as an opportunity to glorify God in your family. This is the most important thing in the life of every human being. Everything you do to glorify God will help you a lot, bring you well being and blessings on your family.
Constant fatigue and low time performance are the first symptoms for those who do not rest regularly. I watch people say that it is impossible to set aside an entire day a week to just rest. But it is not. I have been practicing this discipline for several years since I noticed that it is a clear ordinance from God for all mankind. I love working six days a week but the seventh is my favorite!
This weekly day of rest is called “the Sabbath” in the Bible. This word comes from the Hebrew Shabbat which means to cease, to stop completely. Pay attention that the important thing here is not the day of the week we call Saturday, between Friday and Sunday, but the concept of an exclusive day of rest after six days of work completed.
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”Isaiah 58:13-14
Sabbath: Sacred or Common?
John Wesley wrote in his Bible Commentary “the sabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocency, the former for the preservation of the church, the latter for the preservation of mankind”
Note that the practice of rest is presented in the Bible before the institution of family and marriage, at the beginning of Genesis 2. Just as marriage should be valued in the family, so should weekly rest. In fact, both are essential for the preservation of life, both individually and collectively.
And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.Genesis 2:2-3
Not Just For The Israelites, But For Everyone
It is not a suggestion but an ordinance for the man to rest after six days of completed work. So it is a great mistake to consider the weekly rest day an exclusive practice for the people of Israel. As soon as God rested, he ordered the man to do the same. At that time, Israel did not yet exist as a people. There was no Mosaic law, which would remember this principle later (Exodus 20: 8-11). Adam and Eve were not Israelites. Therefore, the Sabbath was not made for Israel alone, but for all mankind. Jesus reaffirmed this principle for all humanity:
And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”Jesus, Gospel of Mark 2:27-28
The Greek word anthropon found in the original of this text means the human being, making it clear that the Sabbath is not just for the Israelites but for everyone. God sanctified the Sabbath and rested on it. Now, if He rested himself, why wouldn’t you? God certainly did not need rest. But he practiced it to show his importance to humanity, and to enjoy the result of his work.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.Isaiah 40:28
The Lord of the Time
Just as the prophet Isaiah wrote that God is not tired, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man. And he also introduced himself as the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus is not the master of sin, or disease, or anything bad. Thus, it is clear that when Jesus proclaims himself Lord of the Sabbath, he is reaffirming the value of the weekly rest day.
For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.Jesus, Gospel of Matthew 12:8
Jesus was criticized for healing on Saturdays because of the envy and relentless persecution of religious leaders. He made it clear that the Sabbath is not an ordinary day for work, nor should it be a reason for one person to judge another’s agenda. The apostle Paul also said this:
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.Apostle Paul, Colossians 2:16
On our first trip to Israel Rapha was warned in an elevator for pressing the button, choosing our floor in the hotel, instead of waiting for the elevator that would stop on all floors because it was Shabbat. Do not worry about other people’s judgment or judge others. Understand your family’s values and practice them with a clear conscience.
Although I prefer to start my rest from Friday to Saturday afternoon, I often need to work on weekends, and I rest one day during the week. This is increasingly common in contemporary society. Each person must take care of their own agenda. In fact, the idea of the Sabbath was never to keep an eye on the other, but each one to watch over their own time well.
Time is More Important than Things or Places
God is above the concept of time, but he chose the time to reveal himself to humanity and also to show us the limits established in that relationship. Throughout the Bible, you will see that men and women on their walk with God have always moved from one location to another. But the revelation of God and the commitments between him and humanity are always related to the concept of time, not places. We observe this at biblical feasts marking special occasions, for example.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, an Austro-American rabbi, noted very well that time is more important to God than things or places. When you open the Bible at the beginning of Genesis, it all starts “at the beginning” pointing to a beginning time. At the end of the Apocalypse, we have God himself presenting himself as “Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End”, referring again to the idea of time.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.Revelation 22:13
Temples and cities are destroyed. But God chose an abstract concept as a roadmap for our relationship with him, time. And in this context, the rest day has a special highlight. Many, however, go about their lives simply ignoring the opportunity for rest, and suffering immeasurable losses as a result.
Sabbath, A Gift of Time
Bonnie Saul Wilks, in her excellent book “Sabbath, a gift of time” says that what some call the superstitious practice of laziness is a link that brings successful generations together. She also highlights three purposes for observing Shabbat:
- A ceremonial celebration for the Jews to recall their redemption from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 13: 1-16);
- A ceremonial celebration honoring God as the Creator of the Universe in six days and his rest on the seventh (Genesis 2: 1-3);
- A glimpse of the “Age to Come” (Ezekiel 36: 16-38)
I highlight the second item. Shabbat goes beyond the benefit of recharging your energy, but it serves as an opportunity to glorify God. This is the most important thing in the life of every human being. Everything you do to glorify God will help you a lot, bring you well being and blessings on your family.
3 Steps to Practice the Discipline of Weekly Rest
See below how to put this discipline into practice with your family. Remember that you must take the first steps and the next steps will be made easier. Like any discipline, it is important for you to understand that small habits will create a path for them to be more constant in the future. Expect results with consistent practice over time. Then you will enjoy the benefits of weekly rest.
- Get ready for the weekly rest day. Go to the market and buy groceries, clean your house, prepare food, take out the trash, and …
- Complete your work. There is no rest without work completed. Much of the value of Sabbath is in completing what you need to complete. And if you don’t, you won’t be able to rest. There is nothing worse than the burden for an ignored responsibility. Lastly…
- Do not let others dictate your agenda. Again, don’t worry about those who might criticize your values. Soon, they will be inspired by your discipline and its results for your family. Everyone sits at the table, pray as a family, eat together. Enjoy Sabbath as a gift of time for your family.
A Sacred Ritual
The father has a greater role in this responsibility. He must learn the path of that discipline. And as an example, you will have the opportunity to give your wife and children words of blessings and empowerment for each new week.
There is a timid but real awareness of the value of Sabbath arising around the world. This sacred ritual for the family will consolidate values and maximize your time and energy. So, I invite you to take the first steps and start celebrating the Sabbath with your family.
The 10 Commandments of the Family serve as a guide for you to identify the values that your family must regularly observe in order to successfully fulfill your mission. And accepting the Sabbath as a weekly day of rest that God gives to your family requires an attitude of faith on your part. Decide from now on to honor the Lord God by practicing your weekly rest day with your family. You will experience supernatural blessings as promised by the Word of the Lord.
Prayer: God, thank you so much for giving me a day of rest for every six days of work. I acknowledge your kindness and love as you instruct me in a life of well-being for me and my family. Please help me prepare and practice the weekly rest discipline from today on, in the name of Jesus. Amen.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
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