“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” (Gen. 2:2 AV)
Today, I am presenting a verse of Scripture for your consideration that takes into account the activities of God as He created the heavens and the earth. What is ironic though, is the verse that I quoted lists God’s final activity as that of resting. Scripturally, this is the foundation for the formal sabbath that would later be enshrined in Israel’s code of conduct in the Pentateuch. Indeed, one of the ten commandments instructs Israel to, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Ex. 20:8 AV)
Although I do not believe that the church by any means is required to adhere to a formal keeping of the sabbath day, I do believe that the principle of the sabbath is one that transcends all scriptural dispensations and ages. In a nutshell, God wants us to rest. He set the pattern above in Genesis 2:2. Our Lord Jesus Christ modeled the principle when exhausted from ministry to the multitudes. Matthew records it on this wise: “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone” (Matt. 14:22–23 AV). Our Lord took for Himself a day of replenishment in prayerful isolated downtime.
For our Jewish brothers and sisters, today is their sabbath day. They have ceased from all labor, sunup to sundown. Although we do not esteem sabbath in the same sense that they do, why not consider the principle and take a couple of hours of downtime today—just you alone with your thoughts and, moreover, the thoughts of God. It need not be formal; just step aside in your home or wherever you might be and have some moments of sabbath that God might replenish and restore you. Perhaps this is something we can fit into our weekly schedule, i.e., a few hours of personal sabbath, especially while we’re locked down at home amid this COVID-19 crisis. You might be surprised at what the Lord does for and to you. We need a break amid the heavy bombardment of life in this hour as we are stressed and stretched mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and spiritually.
If we take the invitation to sabbath with God for just a few hours, we might find a new sense of revelation in the following Words of Jesus: “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28 CEB).
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.