Quote from the Book:
The fourth commandment reads: Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work (Exodus 20:8-10).
The Jewish understanding of sabbath embraced a special twenty-four-hour rest time that was different from every other day. God’s stop day reminded them that they were no longer slaves that could never stop. They had been freed from Pharaoh’s rule, and the God that ruled them was a restful God – a God who designed all creation for work and rest. Sabbath reminded people that they were finite. They could not constantly be on the go. There were limits in their energy. And to honour these limitations was to honour the infinite God, who himself worked and rested.
I’ve never thought about Sabbath this way. That God gave these commands after the Israelites came out of Egypt where they were slaves. They had to work day in and day out. There was no rest for their souls; they were driven. Through this Sabbath command God shows that He is not a slave driver, as the quote says, “He is a restful God.”
Today, we have different Pharaohs driving us. God’s invitation is the same. He has created us for life and rest and cares deeply about our humanity. I really want to think about who my Pharaoh is. Is it some unrealistic expectation of fitting it all in? Is my Pharaoh a driver who lives inside me that moves me away from awareness of my need to rest and to be?
Another line in this chapter of the book says, “Sunday generously hands us r to look into the eyes of those we love. We have time for loving and being loved. Rhythmically, the Sabbath reminds us that we belong to the worldwide family of God. We are citizens of another kingdom – a kingdom not ruled by the clock and the tyranny of the urgent. God’s sabbath reality calls us to trust that the Creator can manage all that concerns us in this world as we settle into his rest.”
1. What difficulties or compulsions make it hard for you to stop?
2. What makes a sabbath day nourishing and replenishing to you?
3. What happens to you when you go without regular rhythms that allow you to rest in God?
Spiritual Exercises (A few ideas from the book):
1. Plan a 24-hour sabbath you can enter with anticipation. The night before your sabbath, remind your body how it has to luxuriate and rest in God. Consider the things that would nourish you: worship, music, a nap, making love, walking, reading, playing with children, afternoon tea. Plan them spaciously into the day.
2. Begin your sabbath gently on Saturday evening. Light a candle. Invite the presence of Christ to guide you through your sabbath. Eat with friends and family. Go to bed early, speaking peace to one another. Pray for Christ to give you deep, refreshing sleep. Rest in his arms. Commit your dreams to the Lord.
3. Awake gently to your sabbath day. If it is possible, don’t set an alarm. Let your body wake naturally. As you come to consciousness, take several deep breaths and open your body wide to God for the new day. Stretch out and feel the full length of yourself. Thank God that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank him for the gift of the day before you. Is God speaking to you in a new way? Listen and respond. Get up slowly and attend to your desire to encounter God today.
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