The Sabbath (Hebrew Shabbat, meaning “to cease”) was (and is) observed every week from sundown on Friday (6pm) to sundown on Saturday (6pm) and had a two-fold significance. It was both a remembrance of creation and a remembrance of the nation’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. The Israelites were to imitate God’s example and rest on the seventh day, as the Lord rested on the seventh day of creation. Also, remembering that they were once slaves in Egypt, they were to rest themselves and allow their bond-servants to rest (a day of rest was a radical concept in ancient times).
Shevet, related to Shabbat, means to “dwell, abide”. This speaks of God desired to dwell and abide with us as He did with Adam & Eve in the Garden (Gen. 3:8-9).
In this sense we find the deeper meaning of the Sabbath, that of God’s desire to relate to us.
There are 5 ways this happens-
First, as His creation we are to relate to Him. Genesis 1:26-28 said God created only us, mankind, in His image. He did this so we could relate to Him and authentically represent Him in the world. So many try to dress like someone, act like someone, or be like someone famous. Like the lady who’s had multiple surgeries to look like a human Barbie doll.
God breathed His breath of life into us and created only us in His image. He wants us to find rest in that unique and special place in all of creation. When we are at peace with this, we can be an authentic representation to others of His accepting, favored love He has for all of mankind.
Second, as His redemption. We are redeemed for God. Deuteronomy 5:15 God said, “remember you were slaves in Egypt. The Lord brought you out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God demands you to observe the Sabbath.”
As Believers we’ve been redeemed from the slavery and curse of sin unto God through Christ Jesus. This is not just to escape punishment, but to have reestablished relationship with God. Our ultimate rest is found in our relationship in Christ which allows us to enjoy peace and harmony with God and others. Shabbat Shalom – “peaceful rest”.
Third, we are to find our rest in Him. Apart from Him we create our own gods and strive for things and positions and relationships for our security. But there’s no lasting rest in these things. They just can’t measure up to the complete and perfect rest we find in Christ. We won’t find rest in our finished works. Only in Christ and His finished work can we truly find rest.
Cease your striving and labor for things and positions and other pursuits that will not satisfy. Find your Sabbath in Christ.
Fourth, we are sanctified in Him (set apart). Sabbath reorients our lives back to God, reprioritizing our relationship with Him. Exodus 31:13 says, “You shall surely observe My Sabbaths for this is a sign between you and Me throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you (sets you apart)”.
Think of a wedding ring. It reminds you that you are set apart for your spouse. Sabbath is a reminder of that sanctifying relationship we have with God, one that is holy and set apart for His purposes and glory.
We are sometimes called saints of God. Saints means “set apart ones”. To the degree we as saints of God set our lives apart to God, to that degree we are demonstrating how much we value our relationship with the Lord.
Sabbath is a constant reminder to that end.
Fifth, our eternity is in a Him. Exodus 31:17 says, “Sabbath is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel eternally…”
To this end, Sabbath is an eternal sign pointing us to our eventual rest for all of eternity in His new Creation, where is says in Micah 4:4, “Every man will sit under his vine and beneath his fig tree, and none will ale them afraid.”
Sabbath is realized in Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-29, “Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Romans 5:1 says, “since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So Sabbath exists for us to relate to God as His beloved Creation, as a reminder of our redemption to Him through Christ, of our rest and satisfaction in Him instead of worldly pursuits, of our sanctification, and being set apart in relationship for Him alone, and for eternity, where we will experience our ultimate forever rest in Him in His new, perfect creation.
Sabbath reminds us of not only what we are living for NOW, but Who we are to be living with FOREVER. It’s a relationship of rest IN and WITH Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath.
Let me encourage you to take a restful approach to the next 24 hours and find times of rest In and WITH Jesus.