The True Sabbath Rest
In those days I saw in Judah people treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in heaps of grain and loading them on donkeys; and also wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day; and I warned them at that time against selling food. Nehemiah 13:15
Nehemiah was concerned by this disregard for the Law. He is trying to correct the difficulties that had caused problems for Israel in the past. So, he orders the gates to be closed at sunset on Friday. He requires the Levites to cleanse themselves and to guard the gates so that no one violates the Sabbath.
Should we also keep the Sabbath by refraining from work and travel? As seen throughout the book of Nehemiah, these regulations imposed upon Israel were what the New Testament calls shadows, pictures of something even more important that God wants observed. You observe the Sabbath when you fulfill what the Sabbath portrays.
At the heart of the Sabbath is the word rest. The Sabbath is intended for people, that they may learn to rest. The Sabbath is God’s stress management program! It is how to prevent burnout-how to recover from too much pressure and catch up with yourself. It is how to gather yourself together and become able to handle the work you must do.
There are two primary reasons given in Scripture for the Sabbath. The first one is found in Exodus 20:11. There we are told that because God finished creation in six days and then rested on the seventh day, He asked His people to rest after six days of labor. Why did God rest? He accomplished His objective. People too must recognize a limit to their work. There is a need to stop, to allow the body, mind, and spirit to recognize their limitations.
The second reason the Sabbath was given is often ignored. God said to Israel, Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day (Deuteronomy 5:15). They were to rest in order to reflect on God’s ability to work beyond the labors they had already completed. A chance to remember that God is God and they are not.
So, there are two aspects of the Sabbath-creation and redemption. There is a rest of cessation, a ceasing from our own works our own creative activities. But then there is the rest of rejoicing in the mighty delivering power of God. A time of resting in peace where we can just be the creation and acknowledge God as the creator.
I leave you with this quote from Mathew Sleeth as he is talking about the creation story, “Up to this point, everything has been created out of nothing, but on the morning of the seventh day, God makes nothing out of something. Rest is brought into being.” May we learn to rejoice in Sabbath Rest.
Grace & Peace, Pastor Bob
Sunday school will be starting up in person on Sunday September 12th. There will be more information to follow.
Stepping In Faith – Come & Walk with us!
Where – Otsiningo Park. Starting Wednesday, May 12th; 5:30 PM. “Every Wednesday, weather permitting. Bring a face mask or one can be provided. Sponsored by The United Methodist Church of Chenango Bridge.
Meeting Place—North Entrance of the Park, take Howell Drive to Parking Lot. Bottled water & fruit will be available on a first come first served basis.
Led by: Michelle Stoll & Kathy Smith, for questions call 648-4339 (Church Office)
“Bring a friend, Make a friend” – Just do it!