Are your relationships struggling to survive? Do you find yourself yearning to make deeper connections with those around you? What about your relationship with God, has it been lacking fullness lately? God has a solution written in stone for you.
The Sabbath was not created arbitrarily. it certainly wasn’t created just to make the Ten Commandments an even number. God created it with a purpose to benefit our earthly lives, and also our life beyond. The Sabbath is a multipurpose, relational law. It is centered in the middle of the commandments and is the bridge in the commandments that connects our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with our fellow man.
On Sinai, God not only verbally communicated his law, but also wrote it into stone. The moral law, the Ten Commandments, was written into stone to represent its eternality. They were to announce to the Hebrews and all of creation that these words are the foundation of God’s kingdom.
Right in the center of the Ten Commandments is the Sabbath Law. In Exodus 20:8-10, it says, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”.
The first word in this law is “remember”. In fact, it’s the only commandment that reminds us not to forget it. God in his infinite wisdom knew that it was the one law everyone would either seek to change, or completely forget.
The first sentence is an introduction, “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”. What follows is an explanation as to how to keep it holy. A few things are required, firstly laboring six days. This is a part of the horizontal relational aspect of the law.
Laziness affects the people around you. Imagine if everyone stopped working and decided to live a life full of leisure. Our economies would crash, everyone would starve, and the world would probably collapse into destruction. The Bible tells us to go to the ant and see how it works. Its work does not only benefit itself, but it benefits the entire colony. 1 Timothy 5:8 says, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”. Laziness is counterproductive in the kingdom of God. It’s self-centered and breaks the relational aspect of the law of God. Thus, God requires us to work because of its benefit to ourselves and those around us.
He also requires rest. This commandment takes the relational aspect a step further. Every Sabbath, not only are you commanded to rest, but you also to allow your family, your employees, your cattle and even your guests to rest. We see both a sociological relationship and environmental relationship in this law. By promoting rest within your community, you are honoring the Sabbath.
How might you share the message of Sabbath rest in your community? Start by inviting your neighbor, your friend or your family over for Sabbath lunch. One of the best benefits of the Sabbath is that it promotes fellowship. If the Sabbath is relational, then by fellowshipping with one another and sharing in the blessing of the Sabbath, we can strengthen our horizontal relationships with those around us.
God never intended us to be constantly on the go. He wants us to find rest in Him. Psalm 62:1 says, “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him”. This brings us to the vertical relational aspect. The Sabbath was not instituted for the Hebrews alone. The last portion of this commandment echoes the story of creation in the book of Genesis. Before the Abrahamic line began, before the flood, and even before the fall of mankind, God instituted the Sabbath.
It is important to note that God is all-powerful. Nowhere in Scripture does it indicate that God requires rest because He is tired. The work of the six-day creation did not wear Him out. For humans, rest serves to replenish and heal our tired and weary bodies. But for God it functions differently. In resting on the Sabbath day, God made it blessed and holy. His act of resting led to a blessing. By resting He showed that the seventh-day Sabbath was not arbitrarily chosen but had a significant purpose.
There are two reasons God rested, to hallow the seventh day and to teach us. God rested to show us that in resting we are mimicking the lifestyle that He crafted for us. We are functioning within the context of His law, which is an expression of His love, and an explanation of His character. By following the fourth commandment, you are growing into His likeness and reflecting His character. This is the vertical relational aspect of the fourth commandment.
The Glory of the Sabbath
When Moses came down from the Mountain with the Ten Commandments in His hand, His face shone brightly. His face was so bright that it actually made the Israelites afraid. Moses reflected God’s glory because he had been in God’s presence while the commandments were given.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit”. Through complete surrender and seeing the glory of God through his law (including the Sabbath), we will be changed from one degree of glory to another. The Sabbath is the crowing jewel of God’s creation, both in the story of Genesis, but also in the Ten commandments.
The Sabbath law is God’s avenue for blessing our horizontal and vertical relationships. It not only brings us closer to those around us, but it also brings us closer to God. The Sabbath reflects the goodness and glory of God, and it is our calling to reflect God’s glory as well. God’s solution to your broken relationships, with Him and others, can be remedied by beginning to keep the Sabbath.
Won’t you give keeping His Sabbath a try? You just might be surprised about how God uses it to bless your relationships.