About the Author
By Andrea Johnson
Can you imagine God walking with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after the completion of the Creation? Do you wonder if He spent some time proudly showing off His creation? I imagine Him saying, “Adam, look at this . . . and this! Look at the way these creatures interact! Eve, did you see that waterfall? Come on, I have so much more to show you. Let’s enjoy it together.”
In similar fashion, I believe God wants to share His world with us as well. Observing the Sabbath is one way we can do that.
When I was a child most Christians I knew tried to follow the Ten Commandments, even the fourth one: “Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy” (Deuteronomy 5:12, NASB). Most did not work on Sundays unless absolutely necessary. Setting Sundays aside was a huge act of faith for people in the farming community, but as I grew older, I noticed more farmers working seven days a week especially during planting or harvesting. Now people are so busy on Sundays that families are left scrambling, trying to fit in even one church service among all their children’s activities, work schedules, and other errands.
Why do Christ’s followers seem to at least attempt to obey the other nine commandments, but this one, not so much? Did Jesus do away with it? Do we no longer need a day of “rest”?
Mike Juntunen’s well-researched article “Remember the Sabbath” [Read Article] helps bring clarity to the issue of Sabbath. I love his first point, that the Sabbath is a matter of lordship. For me honoring the Sabbath is similar to the concept of tithing. My Creator, my Provider knows what I need. Just as tithing demonstrates my trust in the Lord to meet my needs, honoring the Sabbath demonstrates my faith in God to accomplish the tasks He wants me to accomplish even without my working 24/7. Just as the Lord has shown Himself time and again to provide financially for me when it did not seem possible, He helps me accomplish the tasks He has asked me to do. I cannot count the number of times He has provided me unexpected help or creative ideas seemingly out of nowhere.
A friend once told me, “God will always provide what we need; if He doesn’t provide it, then we don’t need it!” Could it be that as we focus on Jesus as did Mary (Luke 10:38-42), we would realize that some of the things we think we “need” to do would be better left undone?
Graciously, the Lord allows us to try to accomplish our own “to-do lists” in our own strength, but how much better would it be if we allowed His Holy Spirit to work in and through us to complete the tasks He calls us to do? When we rely on the Holy Spirit, we leave room for the miraculous.
By Jesus’ day, religious leaders had taken much of the joy out of the amazing gift of the Sabbath by creating an elaborate system of rules that bordered on the ridiculous and were nearly impossible to follow. He needed to remind them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NASB). In the same way, we can become legalistic about the Sabbath. But just because this gift and other gifts from God have been misused does not mean we should cast them aside. Sabbath is a gift we desperately need.
What if we reserved a day to focus on how amazing God is? Corporate church services allow some time for that. But what if in addition we carved out some time by ourselves or with our families to wander out into a park or onto a lake or trail and relish His creation? Try gazing up at the very tops of the trees, study the minute details of a delicate flower or creeping insect, breathe in the unique scent of the ocean on a crisp, breezy day. Notice the giggles of a baby passing by in a stroller or an elderly woman shuffling along, determined to resist the urge to confine herself to her recliner.
Meditate on the Psalms. It’s hard not to contemplate God’s majesty when reading descriptions such as this: “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers – the moon and the stars you set in place – what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?” (Psalm 8: 3-4, NLT). Recall the evidence of God’s hand moving throughout all of history ever since creation – in majestic, miraculous ways and in the tiniest and most personal of details.
Get some much-needed rest. And as you drift off to sleep, instead of counting your stress factors, consider God’s amazing attributes, His faithfulness, and His grace. Let your heart fill with praise.
Obviously our world is different than Adam’s utopia; we face serious concerns. But observing the Sabbath is one way we can bring His Kingdom to earth. And when we focus on who God is, it helps us keep everything in perspective. It gives us peace. It yields rest. And it brings Him glory.
About the Author
Andrea Johnson, a credentialed Open Bible minister, is the managing editor of the Message of the Open Bible. A graduate of Open Bible College with a major in theology/missions, she has edited and co-edited several books, including Servants of the Spirit: Portraits of Pentecostal Pioneers, We Believe: Core Truths for Christian Living, and We Believe for Kids! Her goal is to reveal Christ to those who are searching for Him. In her spare time you will most likely find Andrea enjoying time with family and friends or hiking. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with four children, three of whom are married, and eight grandchildren.