The Gift and Command of Sabbath
November 29, 2020 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: The Gift of Rest // Sabbath; Resting and Expectantly Waiting
Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Genesis 2:1–2:3, Exodus 16:22–16:30, Exodus 20:5–20:11, Deuteronomy 5:15
As you turn in your Bible to Genesis, chapter 2, I’ve been thinking about this past year and If there's a lesson we've learned this year, it may just be that ‘time’ is not our main issue. think of it, many of us had all these plans for quarantine... Reading that stack of books, going through that stack of old papers, learning that new language. Some people tried new workout routines or had this pandemic wreck our work and life schedules entirely.
Perhaps what changed the most is the show that you've binge-watch or that you now know how to make sourdough bread.
you may have started off strong but, now you feel more like Thor in Endgame vs. Ragnarok
What does this expose for us? I believe it’s this: time is not our main issue, our heart is.
Earlier this year, before all covid broke loose, as a team we were studying the topic of Sabbath together and talking through what the Practical implications of this in our lives as individuals, our homes or families and then here in the church would be. One of the difficult questions we were wrestling around was: are there areas that our schedule as a church encourages people to break the fourth Commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?
That struck a chord with each one of us on the leadership team. Many things changed for all of us during quarantine, for us as a team many dynamics changed, even the preaching we were going through changed in a number of ways but there was something we all agreed on, we still needed to closely look at Sabbath during the Advent Season just as we had planned.
Time is something that we all Wrestle with but I think it would be helpful for us to realize that it wrastles with us.
You may wonder what do I mean buy wrestle or wrastle? Wrestling is where you’re paired up against someone in your own weight class, it’s an even match, there are rules of engagement.
Wrastling is a different thing all together. It’s going to throw everything at you, it’s unfair, it’s down on the ground and scrappy… it might better be considered a scheme of our enemy who is most certainly seeking to steal, kill and destroy - what better way than to take an already tired church and exhaust them all the more?!
I want to lay out a bit of a biblical theology of sabbath for us this morning, if you're new to that term; ‘biblical theology’, all it means is you trace a subject matter through the library of scripture, and as it develops, you notice key ideas.
Have your bible, or app, handy - we’re going to start in Genesis 2 and then move into Exodus with a brief fly-by in Deuteronomy this morning to look at the foundations of this principle that is both a Gift and Command for us as God’s people…
The Gift & Command of Sabbath
Genesis 2:1–3 - Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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.
God said, Okay, now it is time to rest... That word rest is Shabbat in Hebrew. Where we get the word Sabbath, it literally means just to stop, cease or to finish.
He Establishes the Rhythm within 7 days where six of them are for work and one is set aside for rest. It's intentional, it's blessed, it's holy but it's a part of this natural Rhythm from creation
We recognize here that God is the creator, so when he establishes things it's right for us to look closely and carefully add it to bring correct order to our own lives. As it relates to the definition of Sabbath, I can struggle with this at times because it means to finish something... Too often my to do list is not finished.
This can bother me, my natural temptation is to try to work harder, work smarter, work longer, do or accomplish more… try to figure out what am I doing that I shouldn't be doing.
Sabbath flies in the face of everything that I try to accomplish on my own and it causes me to pause long enough to look up to one who can actually finish what he starts out to do (we’ll return to this finished work at the close)
I wish that were part of the rhythm of my life. One of the things that we talked about as a team in preparing for this series was asking questions of one another what will it look like to introduce this Rhythm into our own homes so that we're speaking out of things that we're working to grow in as well.
Our home’s Rhythm can feel all over the place depending on the season, mine and Stephanie's days off don't align, my children are in three different seasons of school between college high school and middle school. Sports schedules don't ask my opinion or availability, the list can go on. Work schedules for our two oldest can change week-to-week.
If I'm not careful, it would be very easy for life to become untethered. Losing its anchor to our faith - I need healthy rhythms to remind me that all of these other things, even things that are good in creation, shouldn't overtake the Rhythm that I'm called to in order to mirror my creator. To slow down and look to him for all that I need.
This concept of Sabbath as rhythm is often recognized and distorted these days, let me explain what I mean:
Concept of Sabbath can easily be distorted Under The Heading of self-care.
Self-care is certainly part of sabbath but, I prefer to say that soul care is the point of it.
self-care can, for some, disproportionately raise preferences for entertainment or Recreation or hanging out with friends, even isolation to a place that may seem wise to us in the moment but actually does harm to our own soul. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone but I’d want to ask about what we are consumed with filling that time with, the entertainments engaged in or the purpose of the recreations and gatherings to better understand how those things point you to the one who created all of this in the first place.
*Don’t hear what I’m not saying*, I do believe self care is important, but I see in God’s Word that soul-care is vital in our faith.
Sabbath is also often easily recognized by a world that doesn’t actually engage in it - A couple of years ago I was working for an employer who, during the Christmas season especially, required my shift to work Sunday mornings. That would have been difficult to do and be here to lead worship at the same time. So they requested that I have a formal letter sent stating that Sabbath is a practice for me personally and that I am regularly engaged in it. I was able to take the letter, several other friends that I worked with of faith were able to do the same and because of that, we didn't risk losing our jobs during that busy season.
I want to ask us today, do we do something Beyond merely “recognizing” the Sabbath? Do we see it is vital for our good and for a deep abiding in our faith? Do we experience the fruit or benefit of that in our own lives?
Exodus 16:22–30 - On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’” So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”
On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” So the people rested on the seventh day.
I hope that everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving this week. I know that the holidays for some can be difficult but on a National Day of thanks I do hope that we paused long enough to think deeply about and even express gratitude. Around many tables one of the most common things that you hear gratitude for is provision - providing for the needs of the individual or family.
This is again where we see and experience God’s kindly rule over his creation, including us, where he creates and sustains by His own hand. The practice of Sabbath is a very practical outflow of the doctrine of creation.
This account in Exodus captures a practical moment where God is giving instruction what to do with the provision that he is making for his people after he has already rescued them from slavery in Egypt.
Even in this provision, he upholds the rhythm of Sabbath, reminding them to work six days and on that 6th day to gather a double portion to be prepared for the seventh day.
We also begin to understand how God's laws and Commandments are intended for our training and instruction. His provision here in the desert is said to be a test of our own obedience with blessings for obedience and consequences for not following commands
Observing the Sabbath recognizes the true source of our provision - it’s not in our efforts or abilities. We actually take a moment to not be productive - why would we do this?
It is for the producing of a deep work in our soul, good fruit for others to benefit from but God’s the source of these things… not us.
Sabbath is an invitation to set aside worldly gain or profits for something that will profit our soul - what kind of price can you put on that? How much would we have to try to accomplish to gain that, only to realize that apart from Christ we still fall short…
In Egypt - the concept of Sabbath would have been a foreign practice to them, and we don't know if the Israelites had been continuing in this practice at this point because the Ten Commandments haven't come to them yet. But God of firms the practice of Sabbath keeping even in the way that he provides for his people
An observation on both of these passages up to this point is the use of the word holy, Sabbath is Holy, made that way by God as he's resting from his creation. It is Holy in the way that we are to remember it - this word holy, in this form, isn't talking about an attribute or a part of God's character - it is holy meaning consecrated or set apart.
Genesis 2 is actually the first use of this word in scripture so it sets the precedent for future use - Holy: set apart, consecrated, sacred, other than normal… all of this related to time.
I mentioned earlier that our family's rhythms can be all over the place and so for us to put some of these things into practice in our own home has been a struggle. We have claimed Sunday night as Sacred Space in our house.
I know for many families this is a night to get things ready for the week ahead, wrap up any of the projects from the weekend, find that lunch box that's been sitting since Friday or even put the finishing touches on that work assignment that's due tomorrow.
We know all of these moments, they’re a normal part of life but we can set out convictions for our homes to live by and we need to do that otherwise we’ll experience that wrastling away from the things of God by the World - we’ve had to instill in our family a knowledge that Sunday night is sacred for us.
We’re not to the place where we light a candle as some do, or even have a specific meal as others may - those can be great things - I just want to be at a place where I am submitted to God enough to say not only are you sovereign over my life but you rule and reign over even the time in our household.
That’s the conviction I want to live out of, set an example for my children from and build on in the years ahead as we look forward to the seasons of life ahead for us as a family.
Sunday is a night, often for Stephanie and I to get some time together (which our kids recently called us out for - I guess the grace for that season is over for us now