It is hard to believe that we have made it through another tough holiday season. Tough for lots of reasons: Tough for all of the extra activities added in December, school programs, church programs, Christmas and New Year’s parties. Tough for the extra debt that a lot of us accumulate to make this season “festive.” Tough for all of the extra expectations that we place on ourselves and our families (cookies, cards, gifts, decorations, traditions). Tough as we are reminded of those who are no longer with us for whatever reason: death, deployment, divorce, school, jobs.
I don’t know about you but I need rest! A day off! My problem is that my weekend, my time off, is already spoken for between house work, and the kids’ activities. Even when I think I have a couple of moments, they quickly get filled as well. Facebook, text messages, emails, TV and even the newspaper fill those extra moments. Before I know it, even the little bit of extra time I thought I had is gone. Again, I say I need rest!
Let’s take a moment and reflect back on the Old Testament book of Exodus Chapter 20 where the Lord gives Moses the 10 Commandments. One of the Commandments being, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. And later in the chapter it is explained “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
To be “holy”, according to the original Hebrew text that the Old Testament was written in, means being withheld from ordinary use. A holy day, a day set apart, a day of rest for both man and beast. As God rested on the seventh day, in love He instructed His people to do the same. The Sabbath day of the Old Testament points us to the Holy One of God, Jesus, who came for an unordinary purpose. He came to die on the cross in our place for the punishment of our sins. He is the Rest that we need. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus say’s “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Unfortunately society has taken the New Testament understanding of no longer “requiring” a specific day set apart to an unhealthy extreme. We have come to believe that it simply means a day of rest, no work, just play. We think that we no longer need to attend worship and hear God’s word. Which misses the meaning altogether. If God gives us true rest in Jesus, and one place where we can receive that rest is in worship, then it makes sense that we should attend.
Daily rest is the true gift of the Sabbath, Jesus, our rest, is with us always. He makes Himself available to us daily through His Word and prayer. I challenge everyone reading this article to daily receive rest in 2014. Find a Bible and commit to read through the books of Psalms and John this year. And receive the rest that the Lord has prepared for you.