Have you ever traveled to Israel? If so, you know what happens if you land there on a Saturday. Stores are closed, and hotels run a skeleton crew. Lavish buffets are set up for guests but without wait staff. Our tour group had been advised this inconvenience would happen, so we expected it. However, the real surprise was that Jews, unlike Christians, still honor and keep their Sabbath day for a full twenty-four hours. Instead of working, they go to Shabbat services followed by a big meal at a restaurant or at home, surrounded by family. Their Sabbath is a complete day of rest.
Let’s begin our study by looking at Genesis where God originally created the Sabbath, and let’s explore why God created such a day. Genesis 1:2-3 will also serve as our Scripture memory verse.
Genesis 1-2:3: God’s creation
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 NKJV).
Genesis 1 outlines creation. On the first day, God created light, dividing it into day and night; the second, the heavens; on the third, the dry land, seas, grass, and trees; the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth, sea creatures and birds; the sixth, cattle and creeping things. His masterpiece came last: man and woman, whom He created in His own image, giving them dominion over the earth and every living creature.
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).
Isaiah 58:13-14: God’s promised blessings
God always teaches by example and by precept, laying a path for us to follow.
He also promises great blessings for keeping His Sabbath Day, as He outlines in Isaiah 58. “‘Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord, And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father’” (Isaiah 58:14a NKJV).
Mark 2:23-3:5: God’s purpose
Jesus confronted criticism about His breaking the rules of the Sabbath.
The Pharisees closely followed the Law, including the Sabbath. Since no man was allowed to work on that day of rest, they highly criticized Jesus for healing the sick. Jesus answered back, pointing our their hardness of heart. (Click HERE to read the story.)
The Pharisees also condemned Jesus and His disciples for plucking heads of grain to eat on the Sabbath. Jesus reasoned with them, pointing out that King David and his hungry men had eaten the showbread in the temple, reserved only for priests.
“And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’”Mark 2:27-28 NKJV
Are we still obedient in 2020 to observe the Sabbath day? And how long does it last–just until noon when the church service ends? Let’s look at God’s instruction about it through the ages.
The Ten Commandments
The fourth commandment is the law of the Sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV).
Click HERE to read the details about what God directed Moses to tell His people about the Sabbath, including the consequences of not keeping it.
A Sign of Sanctification
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you’” (Exodus 31:13 NKJV).
What does sanctification mean? Growing in the grace of God, His blessings, His purity, and His holiness. Keeping the Sabbath has great spiritual benefits, doesn’t it?
The Fruit of Peace
Sabbath rest yields the fruit of peace. As we pause our busyness, we walk into God’s tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose. This seventh day creates something good in us by allowing the Holy Spirit to commune freely with our spirits. It transcends the natural, physical world, bringing calm and quiet to our buzzing thoughts, burdened minds, and heavy hearts.
As we set the Sabbath aside to worship the Lord, we cease, stop striving, and trust. The physical practice of a day of rest changes our hearts and frees our souls from chains of worldly bondage.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”Galatians 5:1 NKJV
As Jesus stated, the Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is God’s gift to us where we can devote that time to honor and worship Him. Let’s partition off this sacred day with pleasant boundaries to protect it. Let’s enjoy communing with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and be refreshed.
How does keeping the Sabbath bring you peace?
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for creating a day of rest for us every seven days. Just as we park our cars and open fuel caps to fill up our gas tanks, so may we open our hearts to You. Fill us to overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s truth and sweet peace as we prepare for the week ahead. We honor and praise You, giving You all the glory. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
Copyright 2020: Finding God’s Peace in the Sabbath: Author Karen Jurgens: All Rights Reserved
Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, is a Texan transplant for thirty-five years and counting. Retired from a teaching career, she writes for the Lord, edits fiction, and speaks on Christian topics.
Karen is a Senior Editor, Bible Study Writer, and devotion writer for VineWords: Devotions and More. She is the Co-Editor and a contributing author for Love Knots: Stories of Faith, Family, and Friendships (VineWords Publishing).
Karen holds a B.S. and M.Ed. in Secondary Education with majors in English and French. She is currently a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
Karen’s first novella, published in an anthology, became the springboard for Desire’s Promise and A Perfect Fit. Blogging led her to Inspired Prompts Blog, then Heart “wings” Ministry where she served as Leader for the Front Porch Bible Study Series. Some of her blog posts are also published in Heart“wings” Devotional, as well as in other ministries and blogs.
Currently, she is revising her Fruit of the Spirit Bible Study for publication. Her work-in-progress is a memoir about her “Judas Experience,” a celebration of God’s supernatural deliverance from the enemy’s kiss of deception.
Passionate about how to find God’s peace through life’s storms, she blogs at Touched by Him, her ministry blog.
Karen loves to cook, entertain, and enjoy life with her two adult daughters and her amazing 98-year-old mother.
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