By Jim Sukup
We are all familiar with the 10 commandments found in Exodus chapter 20. For the most part I don’t have a problem with any of them, except for one…One I didn’t even realize I was struggling with until recently. Verse 8 says “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. OK, I do that. I don’t go on a sinning rampage on the Sabbath, so I’m good, right?
Well, verses 9, 10, and 11 go into detail on what God really intended the Sabbath to be like. It tells us that it is a Sabbath onto the Lord, and on that day we should cease from work and make it a day of rest. After I considered what this verse was really saying I started to squirm. Certainly this is not for us in the 21st century! Maybe the original languages mean something different, or maybe there is a Pauline exception found in the New Testament! Now I don’t have anything against rest, but you have to understand I’m a busy man. I’ve got things to do, people to see, places to go, emails to answer, lawn to mow, a car to wash. Does it really mean what it says. Is it all right if I work like a madman and then rest when I’m done? Unfortunately, it does mean what it says. The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat which implies to cease, desist, abstain and rest from all those things I try to cram into my Sabbath day.
This lesson was taught early on when God rested on the seventh day after he created the world. It’s not just a good idea, God feels it is something that is vital to our life style, especially the 21st century life style.
In the devotional book, “Springs in the Valley” written by missionary Lettie Cowman there is a story about a traveler in the dark jungles of Africa. He hired coolies to carry all of his luggage and supplies. On the first day they made great progress and the traveler was excited expecting to arrive at his destination earlier than anticipated.
But on the second morning the tribesmen refused to move. For some strange reason they just sat and rested. When the traveler asked about their strange behavior he was told that the natives had gone too fast on the first day and were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.
Lettie Cowman then writes, “this whirling, rushing life which so many of us live; does for us what that first days march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference is: they knew what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.” Lettie wrote those words over 50 years ago.
We live in a time where more then ever we feel God like, in that we think we can do it all. We pride ourselves in our ability to create, manipulate and control the world around us. God is not impressed! Instead He invites us to cease, desist, and hand things back over to Him, allowing us to enter in His rest that will restore us physically, mentally and spiritually.