The Sabbath - Why Is It?
February 20, 2022
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts’” (Leviticus 23:1-2).
The Sabbath day was established by the Lord as a day of rest. He set the example. (Genesis 2:1-3) Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. Why was this necessary?
God established shabbath (stop working; rest) and nuach (settle down; rest) at the end of six days of creating the universe (Genesis 2:2-3). This means shabbath and nuach work together in God’s idea of rest. To shabbath is to stop working. To nuach is to settle down and enjoy the rest. A few verses later (2:15) the Bible says, Then the LORD God took the man and put (nuach) him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. C. F. Keil said, “Man was placed there to lead a life of repose, not in inactivity, but in fulfilment of the course assigned him, which was very different from the trouble and restlessness of the weary toil into which he was plunged by sin.”
The Apostle wrote (Hebrews 3:17-19) Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. When Israel was freed from Egypt, God promised they would inhabit the Promised Land. God also promised He would drive out the Canaanites in front of the Israelites so they would not have to fight to conquer the land - they would simply walk in and possess the land, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. But Israel sinned in disobedience to God and therefore they would not enter His rest.
Christians are encouraged to obey the Lord in all things and not forfeit God’s rest in their lives. (Hebrews 4:2-3) For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’” although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. We work to provide a living and to advance our culture, but it need not be burdensome or life breaking work. We are to work as Adam did in the Garden and as Israel should have done in Canaan.
Sabbath rest is an invitation to regularly and intentionally engage in God’s presence and reign in our life on earth. We have to shabbath (stop working) in order to nuach (rest in God’s presence). When we practice this, we make room for Him in our daily and weekly lives. When we do this together, corporately, we’re making room for Him in the community of faith, the church. Amen.