“God spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites, ‘Above all, keep my Sabbaths, the sign between me and you, generation after generation, to keep the knowledge alive that I am the God who makes you holy. Keep the Sabbath; it’s holy to you. Whoever profanes it will most certainly be put to death. Whoever works on it will be excommunicated from the people. There are six days for work but the seventh day is Sabbath, pure rest, holy to God. Anyone who works on the Sabbath will most certainly be put to death. The Israelites will keep the Sabbath, observe Sabbath-keeping down through the generations, as a standing covenant. It’s a fixed sign between me and the Israelites. Yes, because in six days God made the Heavens and the Earth and on the seventh day he stopped and took a long, deep breath.’” Exodus 31:12-17 (MSG)
If you are tired, the ordinary tasks of a day can seem like an extra burden. The physical or mental drain of weariness can lead to burnout. We become overwhelmed by tasks and uninspired by life. However, God never intended for us to drive ourselves into the ground.
When God gave Moses specific instructions about how the Israelites were to live, He gave some additional instructions about observing a day of rest. The Israelites were to observe a Sabbath, known as a day of rest to honor God. However, there would be severe consequences to ignoring God’s instructions. Working on the Sabbath would get you excommunicated from the community. The people were to take this very seriously, as the consequences would be significant. The seventh day of the week was to remember that even God rested after creating the world in six days. It would allow the Israelites to have a signpost each week to turn their hearts and minds back to God. The Old Testament commandment is now a New Testament promise for us.
Yet, sometimes we can think that God’s institution of a Sabbath is unkind. We can equate it with God just being full of a bunch of rules that no one can keep. When we view God’s commandments as a list of do’s and don’ts, we miss it. Since we associate church with the Sabbath, we can live our life thinking that the day of rest is for God. While we worship Him and take time to pause and reflect on His goodness in our lives, it is not for Him; it’s for you and me. The Sabbath, in all reality, is a demonstration of a loving God desiring the best for you. Rest can seem like a foreign concept in our culture. After we run from work to church activities to family obligations and more, we can easily fill up every second of our day. Then, we lay down at night, tired and exhausted, dreading all the things we have to do tomorrow. God knew that we could not go and go without rest. Hence, He made one in seven days as a day of rest. I don’t know about you, but I need a signpost every week that causes me to pause for more than a few minutes and be reminded that God holds the world together- not me.
But don’t let your day be spent just watching TV for hours, dreading Monday morning. Use the time to let your heart and mind slow down, reflecting on God’s provision in your life. Taking a Sabbath rest could be the most productive thing you do all week. God never inteded for us to run ourselves into the ground as a result of our businesses, ministries, jobs, or other commitments. How do we avoid burnout? We avoid it through establishing patterns of rest in our lives. God is concerned about us sustaining the pace of our life for the long haul. Burnout impacts our family, our desire to be involved in church, and our willingness to reach out to people. A day of rest can act as a reset button for you. Do all of the problems and challenges automatically disappear? No. But, God is able to renew our minds and strengthen our hearts through rest. He is able to give us direction and insight as we quiet our minds and slow down the speed of our lives on one day every week. God is presenting us with a gift. When we see the Sabbath as a gift, we gain a whole new appreciation for the wisdom of God and are able to enjoy a “long, deep breath” that rejuvenates our soul.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.