Sabbath. Rest. Sabbath. Rest. Sabbath. The words keep running through my head like a stuck record. They have been there swirling around in my thoughts for some time. I have been studying Leviticus for my devotions this month. Since I started studying this year in Genesis that means I have been reading about the Sabbath in Genesis, Exodus and now in Leviticus.
I wanted to study the Feasts of the Lord more in depth as I went through Leviticus 23. After reading about the Jewish custom of observing the Sabbath, I began to feel like I was putting in a 40-hour work week on my Sabbath. I'm not Jewish, but that doesn't make the Sabbath any less important or holy for this Gentile.
Fast forward to Leviticus 25. The Sabbath Year. Perhaps it is best not to go there until I have managed to grab hold of the Sabbath day.
Leviticus 26. Rewards for Obedience. Ahhh, this I want to soak in. First, do not make idols or set up images of stone and bow down to them. (my summation of verse 1.) Got it. Verse 2: "Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD." Hmmmm. Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary. I am the LORD. Wow. Although a list of wonderful rewards follows in verse 3 for those who observe the Sabbath and revere the LORD's sanctuary, it suddenly didn't pique my attention as much. My desire was/is to pursue and come to a place in my walk with the Lord where I allow the Sabbath to be the gift that God intended it.
Every single week, God offers us the Sabbath. It is a spiritual discipline to observe it. It means that we have to deny self. Putting aside the tasks of the day or the things we didn't get done on Saturday because we were too busy and filled our day with more than necessary, is a discipline. Our human nature too often wants to get up, go to church, maybe take a nap or watch a ballgame and then get back at it. Our Sabbath might consist of the hour or two we spend at church. But God wants more for us.
The Sabbath is a gift to us from God. It is also a day for us to truly trust Him by resting in Him. The other six days of the week God gave us to get everything done. One day he set aside for resting. From Genesis through the New Testament, the Sabbath carries great significance.
As I wrote above, God has been so impressing it on my heart that my version of observing the Sabbath is not His version of my observing the Sabbath. Same for the resting. Then tonight as I was reading a book by Marilynne Robinson, I came across this sentence: "The Sabbath is faithful". Yes, the Sabbath is faithful. Every single week that we continue to draw breath, God gives us another Sabbath. 52 of them every single year of our lives. That is a lot. No matter what we do or don't do during the other six days, God faithfully presents to us the Sabbath. It is our gift to take and to receive and to enjoy.