Don't Waste Your Summer: Resting Rightly, Resting Well
During the busy summer season, we’re taking some time to look at some ways we can strive to use our summers intentionally, for the glory of God and the good of others.
Here’s what we’ve covered thus far:
- Don’t Waste Your Summer
- Plan Your Seasons
- 4 Ways To Vacation Well
- Rest Rightly, Rest Well
- Reliving And Living
Supposedly, one of the things about summer that is so enjoyable is the concept of sabbath, a day to recharge with God through worship and rest.
As I write this, I’m absolutely exhausted. For one, it’s hot. And muggy. I don’t do hot and muggy. I’ve been blessed to travel to, serve in, and attend numerous weddings, with more on the way. Work is busy and getting busier. And in the midst of the busy-ness, I often forget the sabbath, which God instituted for my good.
The sabbath has its origins in the creation narrative in Genesis 1. God created the heavens and the earth, gave the world form and the means to sustain life, and populated it with animals and the first humans. After this, God rested from His labors, to show that the work was done, and that humanity was His crowning achievement – there was no creature to left to create, and He stopped to enjoy it.
When God gave the law to Moses and the Israelites on Mount Sinai (Deuteronomy 5), the third of ten commandments given was “remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”, and it is contrasted with the days of slavery in Egypt, when rest was not an option for the Israelites.
The sabbath has historically been celebrated on a specific day. To the Israelites, it was a Saturday. The early church began celebrating on Sunday, because of the day of the week of Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
Because the sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ (Colossians 2, Hebrews 4), the Law no longer binds us to celebrate the sabbath on a particular day. However, God gives us His law for our good, that we would live in such a way that we would prosper.
Here are four things to remember about Sabbath:
1. The Sabbath Points To Jesus
The sabbath is not just a day. Colossians 2 says that the point of the sabbath is not merely rest on a physical level, but points to rest on a spiritual level. Jesus has fulfilled the sabbath (Heb 4), and is the ultimate sabbath; through faith in Christ, we rest in His labor, and are credited as if we had done the work ourselves.
I myself am not much of a sports fan, so one of the strangest things to me is that people have adopted the use the pronoun “we” when discussing the outcome of a game. They aren’t part of the mechanics of the team, or how the game was played. They didn’t score a goal, touchdown, or home run. And yet, they speak, and celebrate, as if they had.
That’s a bit of how it works with Jesus. Even though we didn’t do anything, as far as our own salvation is concerned, God sees us as if we had lived the perfect life that Jesus had, and adopts us into His family as sons and daughters. He did all the work, and we get the benefit of resting and celebrating what He’s done.
2. Sabbath Was Made For You. (Mark 2.27)
When God created the heavens and the earth, He didn’t take a day off because He had to. He took a day off because He chose to.
Humans, on the other hand, were created with limits. Some have more energy than others, to be sure. But all of us suffer without sleep or food or a moment’s respite. When Adam rebelled against God in Genesis 3, he declared through his actions that he desired to be God himself.
The commandment to sabbath serves as a reminder that while we desire to be more than human, we are not. And we can’t be. We all have limitations, and rather than push ourselves to be more than human, we should embrace the way we were made, seeking to enjoy God and the work that he has done in us and for us.
3. The Sabbath Isn’t Necessarily A Day To Do Nothing.
If you read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry, you will find that He was traveling, preaching and teaching, performing miracles, and tending to people in general for the better part of four years. And yet, he kept the sabbath perfectly.
So while we celebrate, enjoy, and rest in what God has done, the sabbath rest is not “doing nothing.” Jesus regularly healed on the sabbath, even traveled long distances. The religious leaders confronted Him on this numerous times, and He continued to do good despite their opposition.
We should be willing to help people, to serve, and to give in light of how we’ve been served in Jesus. Do you have to say yes to everything? Certainly not. But it can be easy to pull the “resting” card when you have a friend that is moving and you’re the only one that can help, or your kitchen is dirty and needs to be cleaned, or someone is sick and needs help, but you’d rather go fishing or watch television.
4. The Sabbath Looks Different For Everyone
Figure out what works for you. How do you rest?
People are different, and rest differently. Some may like to spend seven hours reading 18th century English literature. Others may like to get together with 800 people and hang out at the park.
Now, it’s probably not a great idea to do something that is exhausting. Just as the sabbath is not an excuse to do nothing, it’s not an excuse to do whatever you want, either. For the Israelites (and for us, I would suggest), it was “do no work.” God even ordered that a man who was gathering sticks on the sabbath be put to death (Numbers 15.32).
But outside of the Law that Christ fulfilled, there aren’t a ton of rules about the Sabbath, and that’s intentional. The opposition that Jesus encountered over these issues was because He refused to obey the rules that the religious leaders had instituted over time. Whatever you decide to do in remembrance of God on the Sabbath day, spend it enjoying what Jesus has done.
As we enter the last few months of summer, remember to rest in the gospel, to say yes to some things and unafraid to say no to others. Remember the sabbath, and keep it holy.
If you’re interested in going deeper on this topic, check out the sermon "God Works, We Rest" from the Deuteronomy sermon series.