One of the most satisfying parts of a home improvement project is stepping back, and looking at the finished product. Isn’t it awesome when a home improvement project turns out right. The paint color perfectly matched the bedroom. The new deck greatly expands outdoor living space. That above-ground pool will provide refreshing entertainment all summer long. Sitting back, and enjoying the fruit of your labor is one of the great pleasures in life.
Scripture tells us in Genesis 1 that God created the universe, and all life therein within 6 days, and on the 7th day, He rested. God rested on the 7th day, not because He was tired, but because He wanted to enjoy the beauty and goodness of His creation. He wanted to enjoy that pleasure of life. Enjoying a sabbath day’s rest, God saw that man would greatly benefit from such a day. So, He told man to remember the Sabbath, and to keep it holy. In Exodus 20:8-11, God told the Israelites that they were to set the Sabbath aside, rest, and worship. They were not to do work on that day, and they weren’t to force others to work for them. They were to enjoy the same day God enjoyed in the beginning.
As with all things, man found a way to turn the Sabbath, a day of rest and relaxation, into a burden. By the time Jesus came, Sabbath laws had become so complex that men were forbidden from picking corn to eat on the Sabbath, and they were prevented from healing on the Sabbath. It is those two issues Jesus confronts in Mark 2:23-3:6 when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”
In essence, Jesus told the Pharisees, “The Sabbath was made to benefit and bless man, not the other way around. Man wasn’t created to worship the Sabbath.”
Taking that statement, we can learn three things. (1) The Sabbath is a gift from God. (2) Observing the Sabbath takes faith. (3) Observing the Sabbath glorifies God.
God gave the Sabbath day to us as a gift. God knew our nature. He knew without a Biblical command to stop and rest, we would continue our daily grind day in, and day out, without rest. He knew this would be harmful to us. Therefore, He commanded us to break the daily grind once per week. We are to take one day to set the struggles of life aside, rest, and enjoy the goodness of God, whether that be by enjoying His creation, or whether that be by enjoying the fruit of our labor. Either way, the Sabbath was God’s gift to us. We should be willing to accept that gift, but doing so requires faith.
Observing the Sabbath, like obeying all of God’s commands, requires faith. It requires faith in God to set aside the daily grind in favor of spending a day in God’s presence and blessings. It requires faith that God is not going to allow us to lose everything by taking a day off. It requires faith that God will provide for us on that day.
A good example of the exercise of that faith would be Chick-fil-A. When Truett Cathy founded the chain, he made the commitment to close the restaurants on Sundays to allow his employees to enjoy the Sabbath. Closing on Sundays is a huge sacrifice and step of faith in the restaurant business. Not only are Sundays the busiest days, but chicken restaurants are especially popular on those days. Yet, Cathy committed to closing on Sundays, which resulted in a number of blessings, including employee retention and increased business the rest of the week. Today, Chick-fil-A is winning the fast food wars, and they are winning on character and image. God has blessed because they honored the Sabbath. This glorifies God, which brings us to our final observation of the Sabbath.
Observing the Sabbath glorifies God. It shows faith in the Lord, and it shows His provision and protection of His people. Therefore, Christians ought to not only observe the Sabbath, but should also be willing to minister to others on that day.
The Sabbath is a beautiful gift God has given. Do we have the faith to accept that gift, and take that day to rest, enjoy His blessing, and worship Him?