Rest

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There remains then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Hebrews 4:9

We have mainly dealt with the idea of a Sabbath day, a day of  rest in the following manner. 

First we cannot come to an agreement on what day that day should actually be.

Is it Saturday Sunday or another day during the week.

Then the question comes how do we observe this day of rest?

Some ritualize the day as the Jewish people did making so many rules that it was hard work to even know how to observe the Sabbath. So much for rest. Or we dismiss the idea of a day of rest because we’re so busy during the rest of the week that’s the only day we have to do anything.

I believe in all the scenarios above we miss the purpose and the spirit of what God commanded in a day of rest, the Sabbath. It is not about rules. Or rituals, or a certain day. I believe it is about two things.

Externally observing a Sabbath or day of rest is when we  cease from ordinary tasks in order to meet with God. The focus is not just on staying in bed all day, watching football in your favorite chair or ceasing from physical labor. Nor is it about quantity of time but rather quality of time. To cease from everyday things that occupy and keep us busy to take time to focus on God.

Internally, it involves ceasing from all self-sufficiency in order to rest in God’s grace. Sinclair Ferguson write,

We rest in Christ from our labor of self-sufficiency, and we have access to the Father (Eph. 2:18). As we meet with Him, He shows us Himself, His ways, His world, His purposes, His glory.

We still struggle to rest from our labors; we still must “strive to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11). The weekly nature of the Sabbath continues as a reminder that we are not yet home with the Father. And since this rest is ours only through union with Christ in His death and resurrection, our struggles to refuse the old life and enjoy the new continue. But one may ask: “How does this impact my Sundays as a Christian?” This view of the Sabbath should help us regulate our weeks. Sunday is “Father’s Day,” and we have an appointment to meet Him. The child who asks “How short can the meeting be?” has a dysfunctional relationship problem—not an intellectual, theological problem—something is amiss in his fellowship with God.

This view of the Sabbath helps us deal with the question “Is it ok to do … on Sunday?—because I don’t have any time to do it in the rest of the week?” If this is our question, the problem is not how we use Sunday, it is how we are misusing the rest of the week.

This view of the Lord’s Day helps us see the day as a foretaste of heaven. And it teaches us that if the worship, fellowship, ministry, and outreach of our churches do not give expression to that then something is seriously amiss.

Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be “Father’s Day!” Thus if here and now we learn the pleasures of a God-given weekly rhythm, it will no longer seem strange to us that the eternal glory can be described as a prolonged Sabbath!
Amen

 

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