Key Text: Hebrews 4:1-13
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, 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.Exodus 20:6
When did we all get so busy? Dreadfully, unhelpfully, exhaustingly, busy. If we say we are busy, it has less to do with the events of our day and more to do with our perception of those events. This isn’t to say that we don’t get busy some of the time, of course we do. But all of the time? No. Our troubles begin when we always feel rushed. When we always do a task with our mind on the next thing to do. When life becomes a relentless trudge through a ‘to do list’, that seems to have no end.
Rest is not a sin. Not resting is. God commands us to rest. God promises us the blessing of rest. If only we would take Him at his word. And if only we would fight our natural restlessness as people. In our highs and lows of life, we need to put aside our doing, our rushing and just rest. But do we know how to?
Continual busyness reveals an unhealthy relationship with our time. It’s an important relationship to get right and most of us are getting it wrong. To get it right means changing some of the things we do. A good starting place is to stop treating every day as if it’s indistinguishable from another; a twenty-four hour unit of time with no unique characteristics.
To do so is not human, it’s mechanical. Days are different from one another and when we standardise them we remove an important sense of rhythm from our experience of time. Is it any wonder then that life can sometimes feel more an endurance instead of an enjoyment?
A possible solution to this loss of rhythm involves a practice that is very old, doesn’t cost anything and almost always works a day of rest.
We are not talking about a specific day whether that is Sunday, Saturday whenever. Because when we rest is less important than making sure we actually do it. There’s no need to feel any sense of failure or condemnation if our Sabbath isn’t on a Sunday.
The Sabbath is supposed to be easy, refreshing and restorative but that’s not to say we are like the Pharisees who refused to even pick a head of wheat or pull an animal from a well. The late, great, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks described what makes the Sabbath unique.
‘We do not strive to do; we are content to be. We are not permitted to manipulate the world; instead, we celebrate it as God’s supreme work of art.’
There’s the point. On the Sabbath, let our strivings cease. This day isn’t about us, it’s about our relationship with God.
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. Hebrew 4:9-10
Driving ourselves can be marriage ending, ministry ending and health shattering. Burnout is not the will of the Lord, it is the strategy of Satan. Rest, stop. Even if it’s the hardest thing we do in our week, have a day off and do not work on it. The sabbath is God’s covenant gift and command to the church today.
Guard our time with spouse and family, if we’re not blessed with them. Maintain and develop good friendships. Take holidays. Take up whatever hobby or activity gets us out of the house and out of the pressures of life. Stay sane, live a normal life. As we rest, we recover from stress and pressure. Rest is a gift from God. Be a human being. God likes it when we act like a human being.
Our struggle is not just a mental or even a private one. It goes to our heart, to our life as a disciple and as a child of God. It’s a struggle that exposes whether we truly believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. How we feel about our soul tells us everything about how we feel about the gospel and how deeply we are believing it.
A Sabbath is necessary because it’s in that where we encounter the presence and power of Holy Spirit. When we rest, focus on God Holy Spirit always shows up.
There points of the justifying Gospel:
1.Jesus worked at the cross to give us the promised rest of sins forgiven and heaven opened up to believers. Jesus sweated and rise on the cross, fought for breath and blood out his life in order to save us. He did that for godless people as well as for God serving believers.
He achieved for us all that we could never achieve and never will. ‘It is finished’ John 19:30 is the declaration of perfection.
The cross speaks peace and brings rest in the forgiveness of all of our sins. ‘We who have believed enter into that rest.’ Hebrews 4:3
Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. That means He is the Lord who commands us to find rest and only He has worked for the rest our soul needs.
2.Listen to the one who worked and died for us and respond to Him. The world can be crushing because those around us can be cynical and hard hearted at times. But so can we though we forget and sometimes refuse to believe the very gospel that saved us. Listen to the gospel. Listen again. ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
The gospel is not something we give to others without first hearing, taking it to heart and staking our all on it first.
3.Our worst days are as much our salvation as our best ones. In other words, we need to believe that we are fully accepted by the Father’s love on our worst days as well as on our best.
We are a ‘justified’ individuals. The declaration ‘righteous’ comes from the mouth of God in the power of Holy Spirit and exclusively on the merits of Christ Jesus.
We shall rest from finding our justification in what we do and rest contented and safe in the finished work of the living word of God, Jesus Christ.
Through His word the Bible, it tells us that we are to enjoy our Sunday’s, not as anxious performers but as Christ satisfied disciples.
We give ourselves to God in worship and to our church families in fellowship. And we refuse to try to justify ourselves by our outward actions and behaviour.
Instead, we yield to Jesus, surrender to His righteousness and rest in His love