As we begin to prepare to observe 40 days of Sabbath rest as a church, it’s important to understand what “Sabbath” really is. When it comes down to it, Sabbath reminds us to, above all, trust God.
Hebrews 4:9-11 says that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God:
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”
Most people’s understanding of Sabbath rests completely on Exodus 20:8, leaving us with an incomplete picture of what Sabbath really is intended to be.
Paul speaks to this in Colossians 2:16-17
Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
The Colossians were holding on to what was a shadow of what God had intended when the fulfillment had already been given.
They had long lists of rules on how to exactly keep the Sabbath – things they could do and things they could not do.
Today, we set rules around Sabbath such as what day of the week the Sabbath day is supposed to fall on.
We often view the Sabbath as a way for man to get to God, however man was not made for the Sabbath, but Sabbath was made for the man (Mark 2:23).
The Sabbath was given after man was created – it was given as a gift to man, a gift that was never intended to stop or be confined to a set of restrictions.
Sabbath is not about rules, but relationships. Rules weigh people down.
But He said, “Woe to you lawyers as well! For you weigh men down with burdens hard to bear, while you yourselves will not even touch the burdens with one of your fingers.
Jesus came not to give us a set of rules to put around gifts like the Sabbath but to replace the shadow of what Sabbath could be with a relationship, fulfilling what sabbath really mean.
Seven times we read about Jesus removing the shadow and replacing it with a relationship.
John 5 – Pool of Bethesda.
Luke 13 – Healing of a crippled woman.
The point of Sabbath was always to remove the burden.
We are always aiming to “try harder,” but the reality of Sabbath is not to try harder but to trust more, which by the way, leads to doing less.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
The way that we demonstrate trust in the Lord is by giving to Him all of the burdens that have been placed on us, exchanging the shadow for the real thing.
- What has been your understanding of Sabbath, and how might that understanding reflect the shadow but not the real thing?
- What burdens are you carrying, either placed on you by others or yourself, that you are going to give to Jesus as we focus on sabbath this summer?
- Where in your life do you need to trust God more?