Sabbath, or Shabbat is the Jewish holiday observed every week from sunset on Friday evening to sunset on Saturday evening. Sabbath is a time of rest as we remember that our Creator called us to rest in his goodness and grace. But how is this lived out in the life of a believer today?
Sabbath calls us to practical rest and worship. We do not celebrate it today as some kind of religious attempt to find God through it, but rather to see his lovingkindness in it. Sabbath is a moment in time when we cease from work. So here are five practical ways to live out Sabbath in today’s world:
FIRST, SABBATH IS AN INVITATION TO CEASE FROM WORK
It reminds us that we are no longer slaves to work. Just like the Israelites who were redeemed from Egypt celebrated Sabbath in the wilderness, so can we. We are reminded of the provision of the Lord and we are invited to trust him to provide for us, even when we don’t work. You can choose to intentionally take time away from your busy life and rest. When we stop working, mowing our lawns, and buying clothes, we get an opportunity to step away from life, we spend time in the presence of God and in the presence of those we love. When we physically rest we are blessed. We may ask, “how do we step away from work when my boss needs me, or my children’s soccer game is on Saturday afternoon?” It is a matter of choice. We can actively make the decision to choose to rest and we can step into trusting God to provide us with what we need. We trust Him enough to leave our provision in His capable hands.
SECONDLY, SABBATH IS AN INVITATION TO COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Sabbath gives us an opportunity to engage in church and community. Sabbath in the Bible was always a communal experience, whether it was the Jews gathering in the temple in David’s day, or believers who met in the synagogue during the time of the early church in Acts. Sabbath is meant to be shared. The communal experience of unity with other believers allows us to intercede for miracles to be performed on Sabbath like when Jesus was on earth. What does this practically look like? This means we attend church and spend time in community on Saturday. We may ask the question, “What if I cannot find a Sabbath-keeping church?” The emphasis of community can be celebrated in good formative God-fearing communities on Sunday as well, but this does not mean we forget Saturday as the day of rest ordained by God.
THIRDLY, SABBATH IS AN INVITATION TO DELIGHT
Sabbath is meant to be a time of delighting and rejoicing in the Lord and the good things he has done for us. Taking time to delight in the Sabbath rest is about the fragrance of Heaven working in our lives so we can enjoy him. Practically this can mean many things: spend time with your family, enjoy time in nature, reading a book or take a nap. The physical act of resting our bodies and souls brings refreshment and wholeness to our very minds and bodies. We receive the fullness of joy when we receive the rest the Sabbath offers.
FOURTH, SABBATH IS AN INVITATION INTO GOSPEL RESTORATION
Through Jesus we are able to engage in the practical application of Sabbath so we can receive grace to be restored. We can then extend that grace to others on this day. The gospel story is bigger than all of us, and we become a part of this story when we celebrate the tradition and rhythm that has been a part of our world since it began. Celebrating Sabbath as a tradition just like millions of others through thousands of years of history, shares the gospel with those who need Jesus. When we live our lives in a way that reflects the gospel story people desire to celebrate with us, especially in our Sabbath celebrations. The gospel story is told through the tradition and rhythm of Sabbath.
FINALLY, SABBATH IS AN INVITATION TO FUTURE HOPE
Sabbath is not just a marker in history of creation and the Exodus from Egypt. It is not just a time of peace and a reminder of God’s command to rest. It also points to the future of being in eternity with Jesus. Sabbath in the present strengthens the hope and the promise that we will be resurrected and in Jesus presence forever. When we celebrate Sabbath over dinner with family and friends, consecrating the time and creating an atmosphere of worship, we step into that future life now. We get a little taste of our eternal life with Jesus. When we create that atmosphere during the Sabbath dinner, we increase our hope for eternity and get to experience the wholeness of Jesus in our lives in a very real and tangible way.