So this is a particularly cool class for me because I’m excited to share something with you about me and Jordan that I honestly think is really great. I’m not a bragger, I think most people would agree with that, but there is something that God challenged us on maybe 5-ish years ago that really changed the dynamic of our relationship and our life.
- How many of you would say that you occasionally or often feel a little bit stressed?
- How many would you would say: Occasionally or often feel some financial tension?
- How many of you would say “I wish I had more time with myself”, or maybe “I wish I had more time to spend with my family and friends?”
We all have limits
One specific limitation that we all have is the limit of time. Time is the one thing we can’t make more of. Can’t buy it / steal it / trade it. There’s 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. And you’re not likely to get more than let’s say 100 of those. Unless you’re a decendant of Methuselah of something. Who is said to have lived 969 years. We all have this complex relationship with time.
So if you were to ask someone this week for they’re doing, likely the response you’ll get is this: “Things are going really good, I’m just really BUSY.”
40 Hours a week is a thing of the past. Devices that make us more ‘productive’ like our phones, when in a way make us more productive, they also make it possible for us to carry our work with us wherever we go.
For me personally, if I allow it, it would be rare to go a full hour of being awake without someone texting me or me texting them something about the church. The office used to be something you had to go to, now it’s something you carry with you every moment of every day.
What’s funny: if you read any of the writings of social theorists from the 1960’s, they were all assuming that by this point in time, we’d all be working part time and living the majority of our life in measure. Meanwhile here we are, working like crazy, never resting, no idea how to really relax and detach.
We fill our life to capacity, and perhaps even overcapacity, with our job, and email, and friends, and productivity, and church, and sports, and TV, and music, and family. We speed up our lives to this crazy pace and we don’t even realize how emotionally unhealthy it is. It’s a busyness that goes past our schedule and bleeds into our identity.
Tonight: Talk about the busyness of our culture and this idea of rest, and specifically this things called ‘Sabbath’.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)
So in this story, for 6 days God is busting his butt with work, he creates the heavens and the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the animals, birds, fish, and finally mankind.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Genesis 2:1)
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:2)
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)
And God works for 6 days, and here’s the crazy part: and then, he rested. God did. Let that sink in. This doesn’t mean that God was tired. In fact this Hebrew word is Shabbat. Which is where we get the word Sabbath. It means to rest, or cease, or be done. It’s the idea of after a long days work, you come home sit in your favorite chair, crack open a nice cold root beer, and look at what you’ve accomplished.
In fact, sabot CAN be translated: Celebrate. The idea is an entire day set aside each week to celebrate. To rest and enjoy the beautiful world but got his made, you’re wonderful family, and Your friends. To just sit and relax and enjoy and celebrate you’re one beautiful life. And of course most of all, the delight in God himself.
God works 6 days And then rests for one. And didn’t doing that he sets the example for mankind but we are to work hard and then on the 7th day, we rest. Just like God.
God Blesses the 7th Day.
God blesses 3 things: Animals, human beings, and the sabbath. And with animals and humans the blessing is this: The ability to pro-create.
- When he blessed the animals he says “Be fruitful and multiply.”
- When he blessed Adam and eve he says “Be fruitful and multiply.”
The blessing is the ability to produce life. And then 3rd, God blessed (same word) the Sabbath.
“The Sabbath has the ability to produce more life.”
Life can be draining.
Life can be draining. Even when it’s good and your family is good and you love what you do. It can still be draining.
For me, there will be days that I have 5 meetings, just back to back to back. And I LOVE what I do. But I’ve also learned that it’s incredibly draining.
Work drains & Rest fills.
You might be thinking: “Not me! Work fills me up!” I hear you. You’re just wrong.
Think of it like working out. Some of you LOVE working out, and you might be thinking “Working out fills me up!” Well, try doing it for 48 hours straight. You can’t. Why? B/C it’s depleting. Even if you love it. Work is the same way.
So REST fills you. REST is life giving? Why? B/C God blessed the Sabbath.
God makes it ‘Holy’.
So here’s what’s interesting: The first time we read the word ‘Holy’ is the Bible is right here.
“God blessed the 7th day, and made it Holy.”
Isn’t that fascinating?!
The first thing God makes Holy is a day.
A day in a week.
In the ancient near east – The “Gods” they were found not in time but in space. So the God’s were found at a specific location: a temple, a mountain, a cave, or a shrine, or spring, or something.
So if you were in this culture reading Genesis, you would expect God to work for 6 days then as the climax of the story, God would make a holy temple. / Mountain / Pool. But instead God makes a Holy day.
“The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals, the Jewish equivalent of sacred architecture.” “The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel – Rabbi – book-Sabbath)
Isn’t that incredible?
So here’s some statements that will hopefully give you an idea of what I mean when I say ‘Sabbath’.
- The Sabbath is a day that’s blessed and holy and has the ability to produce more life.
- The Sabbath is a day that’s lived slowly, so that I can notice what’s going on in me and between me and God.
- The Sabbath is a day where I’m fully available to my family and friends.
- The Sabbath is a day where my email is closed, and I’m not taking business calls.
- The Sabbath is a day to remember that the world goes on without me. That I’m not as important as I think. I remember that I live in a story and I’m not the main character.
- The Sabbath is an invitation from God himself to work like he works, and rest like he rests.
But when we DON’T take God’s invitation to rest:
We reject the rhythm that God has built into humanity.
BTW study after study shows that a 7th days of rest is something that’s a biological need for us.
We become emotionally unhealthy.
Fatigue, exhaustion, burnout, stress, anxiety, compromised immune system, lethargy, slower mind, feeling ‘empty’, even feel disconnected from God. So it makes sense then, that through the story of the Bible, God COMMANDS the sabbath.
I had one major concern coming into this week, and that’s this: I didn’t want to enourage people to be lazy. Just the opposite. In fact, I’m saying that you probably need to work hard 6 days a week. Just not 7.
If you don’t know the story: This is the time of ‘The Exodus’ if you don’t know the story, may I recommend the Christian Bale movie called ‘Exodus’. Or just, you know, read the book of Exodus.
But the story: Israel is our in the desert, 100’s of thousands of people without food and water. People in this story and anything but emotionally healthy. So they grumble and complain, and whine, and whimper, “God we’re dying out in the desert.”
Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ” (Exodus 16:9)
While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10)
The LORD said to Moses, (Exodus 16:11)
“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ ” (Exodus 16:12)
That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. (Exodus 16:13)
When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. (Exodus 16:14)
When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” (Hebrew word: Mana) For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:15)
Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (Exodus 16:21)
On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. (Exodus 16:22)
He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ” (Exodus 16:23a)
So this word ‘Holy’ means ‘Dedicated To’.
So that’s the idea of a Sabbath. That it’s a day dedicated to God.
So a Sabbath is not the same as a day off.
So with a day off, you don’t work for your employer, but you still work. You do all the work that you don’t get paid for. A day off is a fantastic American tradition.
But the ‘Sabbath’ is a day dedicated to God. Which is very different. Which is a new idea for many of you, that’s ok. This is why Moses goes on to teach people how to get ready for the sabbath.
He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ” (Exodus 16:23)
So on the 6th day, you bake, you boil, do whatever you have to do, but the idea is that you get ready for the sabbath.
The writer John in the New Testament calls the 6th day, so the day before the sabbath the ‘Preparation Day.’
So for me, one thing that I have to do the day before sabbath is I have to close my laptop. So I don’t know what that needs to look like for you.
Maybe for you:
- Putting school work away for 24 hours.
- Not checking email
- Putting off cleaning the house for a day
- Not scheduling meetings
- Not going to the gym
- Putting your phone in ‘Do Not Disturb’ or worse: Shutting it off.
- Saying no to thousands of social gatherings that drain you, and drain your spouse.
- Putting off that project
- Not reading business books
It’s saying ‘no’ to work, paid or otherwise.
So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. (Exodus 16:24)
“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. (Exodus 16:25)
Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” (Exodus 16:26)
Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it (over achievers), but they found none. (Exodus 16:27)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? (Exodus 16:28)
Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” (Exodus 16:29)
So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:30)
Notice 2 statements:
- “How long will you refuse to keep my COMMANDS?”
- “Bear in mind that the Lord has GIVEN YOU the Sabbath.”
So that Sabbath is a command but it’s also a gift.
So you may be aware of this criticism that says this ‘There’s no talk of the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament.’ There’s all kinds of sabbath talk in the Old Testament – Genesis to Malachi, and then you get to the New Testament – Matthew to Revelation and there’s no mention of it.
So people might say ‘The Sabbath is a part of the law!’ That’s of course not true, it’s there millennia before the law. In fact everything we’ve read so far is before the 10 commandments. And then when you get to the 10 commandments, it’s there front and center. Interestingly: It’s the LONGEST of the 10 commandments. It gets more real estate than any other commandment. – Which I do think says something of it’s importance. But it’s true, that there’s no command anywhere in the New Testament for followers of Jesus to take a sabbath.
BUT it’s still a GIFT from God.
So it’s not a COMMAND, but if you want to live an emotionally healthy life, you’ll do this.
It’s like sleep. There’s no command that you have to sleep at least maybe 7 hours a night, I know it’s a little different for different people. But there’s no COMMAND to get enough sleep, I just feel bad for your spouse if you don’t. Or your roommates, or your girlfriend, or whatever.
There’s no COMMAND no not drink 7 cups of coffee a day. It’s stupid, but it’s not a sin. But if you want to be healthy, you’ll limit it to no more than let’s say 2 or 3. Whatever that number is for you. When you’re so jittery that you can’t get the cup up to your lip, stop!
So it’s not a COMMAND, but it still a gift from the creator, to us, his creation.
Unfortunately, most Christians don’t do this anymore. Why?
1. The Sabbath can seem unamerican.
We know how to work, we know how to play, but we don’t really know how to rest.
It’s kinda the whole ‘work hard, play hard.’ idea. There’s need to be a time where you’re taking it easy too.
2. We misunderstand Jesus.
If you’re familiar with the gospels, the Sabbath was basically a day for Jesus to get in trouble. He was always breaking the rules and making the religious people mad.
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. (Mark 2:23)
The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” (Mark 2:24)
Ok, so here’s a slight challenge when it comes to the Sabbath. “Work” is a little ambiguous.
Jason – long runs.
I know my friend Jason – he likes to go for these long runs. Like we’re talking 12 MILES. No here’s the question: Is running work or rest? For me, running is like Japanese water torture. So much of it depends of you, and how your body works, and how you feel about bugs and wild creatures.
Well this kinda of flexibility is no good for religious people. The religious people of Jesus’s day – the pharisees – they ADDED 100’s of rules about the sabbath.
Whereas the rule was ‘Don’t work’ they added all this stuff about being able to walk a certain distance from your house, this is how much weight you can carry, etc. And along the way, they lost the point.
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
So the Son of Man (talking about himself) is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)
Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. (Mark 3:1)
Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. (Mark 3:2)
Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.” (Mark 3:3)
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. (Mark 3:4)
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. (Mark 3:5)
Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. (Mark 3:6)
If you’re familiar with the story of Jesus, you’ll know the majority of Jesus’s healings take place on what day? The Sabbath.
I for one, think that’s on purpose. It’s b/c that for Jesus, Sabbath is a day for healing.
In the first century, Jesus does some of his best work on the Sabbath, and that’s still true today.
All I’m saying :
All I’m saying tonight is this: Take a sabbath. Not a day off, where you just do unpaid work, take a Sabbath. A day set apart for God and his healing work in your life.
Whenever works. People get crazy about this.
The ancient jewish style is Friday Sundown to Saturday Sundown. And that totally works if it works for you. But you can do it whenever works.
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. (Romans 14:5)
For lots of you, Sunday is a great day for Sabbath. You can take it easy, sleep in, have breakfast, spend time with your family, come here to the table, and then go spend some more time with family or by yourself, that’s perfect.
For me, and for the staff and many volunteers, Sunday is NOT a Sabbath, it’s a work day. And that’s great. So for me, my sabbath, mine and Jordans is Friday. You’ll know this if you’ve ever tried to schedule a meeting with me on a Friday. I bet it didn’t work.
Don’t need to be legalistic about, there will be things that come up and that’s ok. Sometimes we have a busy Friday with work stuff, so we’ll move it to Saturday. Or some weeks it doesn’t work out. But again, whenever works. Just get creative. If you’re married, taking a Sabbath together is the best.
I remember when Jordan and I started doing this a couple years ago, it was crazy! It felt like we were being bad, but now, we both look forward to it all week.
If you’ve never done this before, don’t expect it to be easy. It takes time to learn. Think of it like learning a skill. – That first time you put your phone in Do Not Disturb, it’s gonna feel weird. You might feel bored, or anxious.
Let me just run you through what it looks like for me and Jordan. But it will probably look different for you.
(EXPLAIN HOW WE DO IT.) (Testimony about what it’s done for us.) (What it’s done for us.)
“People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently.” (Walter Brueggemann)
‘Sabbath’ is a 24 hour period sometime in your week. But if done correctly it changes your life. It keeps you up to date in your ability to rest, and relax, and hear God. You learn to live in that spirit through the rest of the week. Even when you work, and strive, and sweat, you’re still at rest.
And that’s what I want for me, it’s what I want for my wife, it’s what I want for my children when the time comes. I don’t want us to be just classic, crazy busy Americans, who don’t know how rest. That’s not who I want to be. That’s not the kind of family I want to help lead.
And it’s something that I want for you, as my friends.
Encourage you: don’t just ‘give it a shot’ but decide to make this a part of your life. Lives can be so hectic that it becomes hard to Pause, and Breathe, and Listen. There is a day that’s blessed and holy, there’s a rhythm inside your body, there’s a rhythm in the fabric of the world itself, work and then rest. Work and then rest. And in this holy day, God is waiting for you there. Not in a temple, or a shrine, but in a day.