“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work….” Genesis 2:3

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work…….For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…..and rested the seventh day.”  Exodus 20: 8,10,11

If you were to look up rest on dictionary.com (which I did) you would find an overarching theme running through each of five definitions:  refreshment and tranquility.  Doesn’t sound much like a harshness or divisive command does it?  I want you to be refreshed.  I want you to experience tranquility.  Yet ever sense God gave that fourth commandment, it has been a bone of contention and judgement.  They wanted to condemn Jesus for “working” on the Sabbath.  Even today, the concept of “the Sabbath” is used to make judgement about others and conversely, the concept of rest  and those seeking it is the purview of slackers and those who are lazy.

So to start with, is there an significance to seven days?  I for one believe that all things, including science are blessings from God and are revelatory as to the Nature of God.  In the case of seven days, there is scientific evidence based on studies reported in the National Academy of Sciences and the University of Minnesota that show there is a circaseptans rhythm or cycle which is based on a seven day progression (not necessarily starting on Sunday and ending the following Saturday).  This cycle has shown to be critical to cell growth and the processes like hormone release and tumor formation.  An additional thing that has come from the studies show that there is a pronounced degradation in health and performance over time when a person works all seven days in a cycle without rest.

So science and the process of nature shows us that seven days is a cycle and rest is an essential component of that cycle.  Yet we are not just natural beings but spiritual as well.  Remember, we are made in the image of God.  So God, the Creator of all things, omnipotent and omniscient, felt the correctness of resting on the seventh day.  I obviously would not attempt to speak for God, so I can not say whether it was a need of His or an example for us.  The “why” behind His taking the seventh day to rest, I believe is irrelevant.  That He made it a commandment for us, shows that we are in need of it.

Okay, one might ask, let’s say I need it; so what should that day look like?  That is indeed the overarching question to this discussion.  I believe the answer goes back to two concepts: rest and holy.  Remember rest has the aspects of refreshment and tranquility.  So let’s say I do cease from the vocation for which I get paid but I just trade it for another effort which causes me similar or greater anxiety or stress (have you seen me play golf?) then it would be hard for me to say that I am appropriately observing the day (that is not say all golfers would fall into that category – not anti golf).  Second and equally as important; holy.  Several important aspects of holy deal with a purity of thought and action as well as a dedication to God.  For holy to exist, God must be the focus and not just an afterthought.  Thus I should be far more focused on my intentions toward the day then trying to find fault in yours.

Now comes the issue, now comes the judgement, now comes our potential downfall as we look to this commandment.  For holy, the idea of purity and dedication to God are subjective concepts by their nature.  And our nature is to fall back on rules that we can comply with.  Thou shall not __________ (fill in the blank).  Perhaps thou shall not pick ears of wheat to eat or thou shall not heal a person with a withered hand.  Those are two of the things that the authorities tried to punish Jesus for.  Yet Jesus admonished them, that they didn’t understand His (and Our) Father’s commandment.  Jesus was bringing both refreshment as well as dedication to God so He was in no way profaning the spirit of the Sabbath.   But the prince of this world wants us confused, judgmental and divided.  He wants us pointing fingers at each other, accusing each other of braking the rules and ignoring God.  The devil wants us adhering to some earthly code/commandment that is far from the reality of Our Heavenly Father’s intention.  There is one more thing the devil wants, if we decide to make the seventh day holy and dedicated to God, to leave God out of the other six.

The Truth is, Our Heavenly Father is the God of Love.  The commandments that He has given us are out of His Love for us and for our benefit, not His.  God knows that we need Him; all seven days.  Yet God knows that we need out of those seven days, a day of rest.  He knows that we need a day that if we will make it about bringing ourselves; body, mind and spirit into a tranquil place, dedicated to Him, He will supply a refreshment for each of us, in our entirety beyond anything we can do for ourselves.   It is up to us to understand how much we need that rest and come to Him in praise, to receive it.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, this is a world that will try and wear us down, drive us from You as it wants us to focus on the every day toil.  Help us, Most Merciful Father to heed Your example and make room for a Sabbath Day of rest.  Further help us to not just trade one toil for another; but truly come into a place of tranquility and dedication to You, Oh Father.  That in doing so, we know that You will provide a refreshing for our mind, body and soul.  We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

 

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