A MUCH-needed Break!

Sabbath is a very simple concept that gets lots of people wrapped around the axle (myself included from time to time). We ignore it at our peril.

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. (Gen 2:2-3)

The first word on Sabbath appears in Torah long before the ceremonial law. Yet, because of the excesses and the externalism of the Pharisees, we miss how deeply rooted in reality is sabbath. In Hebrew, it is a very simple idea. It just means, “STOP IT!”

Whatever you are doing, stop.
Whatever you’re trying to achieve, stop.
Whoever you’re trying to become, stop.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 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. (Exo 20:8-11)

See how sabbath is rooted in creation? Moses doesn’t tell the ancient Israelites to “stop it” because the law says so. He says to rest because God rested in his creative work. We will have no peace until we learn to imitate Him.

“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deu 5:12-15)

But sabbath is not important just because the Father did it. Don’t get me wrong; if that were all we had, that would be more than enough! But its importance grows because endless toil and frustration and soul-crushing servitude is not what Creation was made for! Sabbath matters because Abba made this place in peace and harmony. We who are his people must not live like “the Egyptians” or their slaves. We are FREE!

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Heb 4:9-10)

As with all facets of the life God teaches us, sabbath also has a forward-looking dimension. The with-God life we’ll share after Jesus appears in his glory will not be idle (for who would suggest that God stopped working? Ohwait… that’s a question for another blog), but the Spirit will transform our current life into something invigorating, fulfilling, refreshing, and deliciously GOOD!

I had a small taste of that sabbath last week as Carly and I (and Bryan — our minister — and Dana and Asher Dill , and Hank and Casy — Carly’s sister– and Emily Schweickart) traveled from Frankfort to Williamsburg, VA. Through the “green rolling hills of West Virginia,” through the Shenandoah Valley where Stonewall Jackson’s troops “stood right up like a stone wall,” to Jamestown and Williamsburg and Yorktown, and even a day at the beach and a day in Washington, DC. I cannot adequately express how grateful I am for the life I have now in Christ, and for all those who have given so much (Mom, Dad, friends, family, Carly, and Abba most of all) to make me who I am. I’m truly blessed and refreshed, so I hope to be writing a lot more very soon!

in HIS love,


About Nick Gill

orphan-poet-adoptee-soldier-prodigal-servant-husband- counselor-desperate seeker after my Father's face "I feel my body weakened by the years as people turn to gods of cruel design. Is it that they fear the pain of death, or is it that they fear the joy of life?" - Toad the Wet Sprocket

Posted on 30 June, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I’m much better with godly rest in theory than in practice.

    Any thoughts on weekly rest?

    Grace and peace,

  2. Yeah, me too — I’m great at spotting when other people need sabbath integrated into their lifestyle, except when I’m looking in the mirror.

    I haven’t spent enough time yet thinking about the actual mechanics, so I don’t have any thoughts about weekly rest yet. I think the mechanics are more like a doctor’s prescription — someone who knows you AND understands sabbath could prayerfully help restore someone life to the “unforced rhythms of grace.” (I think that’s a Eugene Peterson line, but don’t hold me to it)

  3. Glad you’re back. I’m sure your trip was great! We headed out to eastern Virginia a couple years ago and loved it! And we just did DC earlier this year.

    I think you’re right about the reason for the Sabbath, and I’m ashamed to admit that’s one of those things I know I should incorporate into my lifestyle, but still don’t. In addition to the well-being of an individual, I think it would also greatly benefit a family unit to have that rest time together.

    • I feel that way every time I look at the Spiritual Formation section of my bookshelf.

      And I think you’re right about the inclusive and communal aspect of sabbath — it cannot help but restore, revitalize, and transform a family that seeks to draw near to God this way.

  4. I think God knew what he was doing when he established “sabbath” rest. Even he rested. Somehow we’ve become people who think “unless we’re busy 24/7 something is wrong.”

    Glad you enjoyed your break.

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