Just recently it was brought to my attention that the fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath, has been getting some “bad press.” While the other commandments are the subject of many sermons, Sabbath keeping is pretty much ignored. And yet, this commandment takes up an entire paragraph, while the “biggie” commands only use five words. God does not waste words. Apparently, He puts a lot of importance on the subject.
Volumes have been written on keeping the Sabbath but due to my limited space, I want to share some of the truths that I have recently discovered.
- All living (and some non-living) need rest. In our culture, overwork is celebrated by some and demanded by others. People in agriculture tell us that even dirt needs to rest. (See Exodus 23:11) Pastors violate this principle of rest more than any other profession. Doctors tell us that pastors have one of the highest rates of heart attacks due to stress.
- God gave us this commandment so that we would take the time to develop intimacy with Him. I need to be reminded of what He wants me to do and of His kindness and goodness toward me. ““Be still, and know that I am God;…” Ps 46:10
- While we do benefit from keeping the Sabbath, the Sabbath is to center in God and not ourselves. God intended that we spend quiet time with Him and ask questions such as: “Lord, am I putting You first in my life?’ “Am I hearing Your voice?” ” Am I leaning on Your wisdom?”
If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything. — Eugene H. Peterson