Tag Archives: Sabbath

The Rest of the Story

Violently persecuted in his home land, he joined a group who fled by boat, hoping for safety on some different shore.  But, what they found was terror – from pirates, from storms at sea and even from one another.  In desperation, he jumped overboard.  Soon, he was exhausted from his futile attempts to swim, surrounded by sharks and coughing up sea water with every breath.  A ship drew near and a life ring was thrown.  Should he take it?  Nothing to lose, he thought, and grabbed it.  The next thing he was aware of was waking up in a comfortable bed, washed, rested and fed.  He made his way up on deck, found a place to hide and watched intently for any kind of danger.  When the men working on deck noticed him, he raced away to the rail, preparing himself to fight or jump.

That is when he heard the voice of the captain, saying, “You are safe here and we will not hurt you.  You do not need to hide, or dash back and forth, watching and worrying about who is coming.  If you trust me, you can rest from all that.  Of course, if you are too frightened to trust me, too used to scheming and fighting to protect yourself, you can keep doing so.  I cannot force you to rest, but rather, I invite you to do so.  How about it?  Don’t you want to leave all this stress behind and rest?”

Could this be real?  Could it be true?  He had to decide: either listen to his old fears, try to protect himself and jump overboard or trust the captain and rest.

Hebrews 4, an extended warning about failing to trust God and missing out, also contains these lines about His promise of rest for those who trust:

“Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.”   (Hebrews 4:1)

“Now we who have believed enter that rest, …”  (Hebrews 4:3a)

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  (Hebrews 4:7b)

“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest,…”  (Hebrews 4:9-11a)

Rest Assured

The most intimate conversations with my wife tend to happen when we are out for a walk – away from the phone, the TV, the dishes, etc.  Something about the pace of walking together draws us closer.  Taking the time for that, periodically, breaks the gradual crescendo of stress and distraction of daily life and helps us re-connect.  God knew that principle and blessed us by commanding us to periodically observe a Sabbath rest.  Think of the Sabbath as God saying, “Hey, let’s go for a walk together…”

But then the religious authorities (an oxymoron?) layered the Sabbath with so many do’s and don’ts that their rules actually separated people from the heart of God.  The Sabbath became a burden instead of a rest and time of re-connection.  Naturally, Jesus’ approach to the Sabbath caused conflict, especially among those who tried to use religion as a way to control others.  Jesus said, “Come to Me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).  That, in a nutshell, is the idea of the Sabbath!   But an invitation like that was a threat to the makers and enforcers of strict religious rules.

 “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” (Matthew 12:9-14)

I wonder if they called their meeting on the Sabbath?   No doubt.  Do you need rest? Do you wish you could be close to God?  Stay away from people like that.  Go to Jesus.  Find your Sabbath rest in Him.   He said,

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6b)