Exodus 20:8-11 To observe the sabbath is to rest in Jesus, the Lord of the sabbath
Exodus 20:8-11 To observe the sabbath is to rest in Jesus, the Lord of the sabbath
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11
This is the fourth commandment of the 10 commandments. The Hebrew word Sabbat connotes “to rest, cease from work”. The sabbath day is tied to the act of creation. God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh day. And on this seventh day, God sanctified it and blessed it. God instituted the sabbath as a covenant that man will rule over creation; to prosper in one’s soul, health, family, career and all aspects of life. To observe the sabbath is to rest in Jesus, the Lord of the sabbath. In so doing, we receive His grace to enter the sabbath rest and bring salvation to the world.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work…
The commandment explicitly states that no work is to be done on the sabbath. In the act of resting, creation (people, animals and land) may be restored by grace and filled with the blessing of God. Leviticus 25:3-4 commands that the land must not be sowed or the vineyard pruned during the seventh year. Therefore, the sabbath commandment applies not only to people but animals and land as well.
Therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
By blessing the sabbath and making it holy, the Lord He pours out His covenantal blessing on His children as they observe the sabbath. Therefore, the sabbath is a sign, a covenant that God’s children will rule over creation and prosper. The Lord spoke to Moses,
“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you… So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.'” – Exodus 31:13, 16
When God instituted the sabbath on the seventh day of creation, it serves as a sign that creation is to be an inheritance for God’s children. And all who follow God by observing the sabbath will rule creation and feed on its riches. Prophet Isaiah said,
“If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the Lord,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 58:13-14
To observe the sabbath is to rest in Jesus, the Lord of the sabbath
What is Sabbath rest?
The sabbath rest is a sign between God and His children that they will rule over creation and be fruitful. Since the fall of Adam, the righteous continue to uphold the sabbath in hopes of entering the sabbath rest. During the time of Moses, God barred the Israelites from entering the promised land to experience the sabbath covenant because of disobedience (see Psalm 95). God had determined that Moses’s generation of Israelites will not conquer the promised land to possess it. God said,
“For forty years I loathed that generation,
And said they are a people who err in their heart,
And they do not know My ways.
“Therefore I swore in My anger,
Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” – Psalm 95:10-11
Even after Joshua’s generation did conquer the land years later, there was still no rest for Israel. For they were either at war with external enemies or with each other. The book of Hebrews says,
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God… Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. – Hebrews 4:8-11
Indeed, what prevented them from experiencing the fulfilment of the sabbath covenant are not external circumstances, but disobedience and unbelief.
To rest is to come to Jesus
True sabbath rest is not achieved by observing religious laws or overcoming external hindrances, but by coming to Jesus, the Lord of the sabbath. For He sets us free from the curse of sin and disobedience. Jesus said,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-29
Jesus explained to the Jews that the sabbath is not about following laws. It is all about coming to Him, the Lord of sabbath to be healed. Like the Jews, many in the churches today observe the sabbath by going to church on Sunday and reading the Bible occasionally. Their focus is not to love Jesus, but to receive material blessings and be set free from eternal hell. Even though they work very hard by rising early and retiring late, they cannot enjoy the fruit of their labours and experience abundant living.
How do we observe the sabbath?
Firstly, there is rest in the heart. Secondly, rest in the mind. And lastly, rest in the body.
Rest in the heart
The Spirit of Christ grants rest first in the heart, then in the mind and in the body. The discipline of self-reflection removes unbelief and restores peace. Many are perpetually tired and drained out because they doubt and their hearts are not at peace. Jesus said,
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. – John 14:27
The wounds of abandonment, injustice and failure drain the soul of peace. As a result, the wounded are constantly afraid, lost, negative and angry. Jesus calls all to come to Him so that they may receive peace and healing. Healing involves recalling and releasing the events of the past and the people that caused us hurt. By opening our soul to the Spirit of Christ, He heals the wounds therein and our hearts become whole and rested. A rested heart naturally dwells on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute (see Philippians 4:8). If you find your heart dwelling on anger, bitterness, and malice, it’s time to rest your heart in Him.
Rest in the mind
To rest in the mind is to break out from circular thinking by seeking a revelation from God. Worries exacerbate circular reasoning causing a person to spiral into depression. To experience rest, one must trust in God’s promises and live by His directives. Proverbs says,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
In resting in the mind, we converse with God unceasingly to receive wisdom to solve daily problems. To rest is not to cease from mental activity but rather to allow our thoughts to be directed by God.
Rest in the body
To rest in the body is not to cease from physical work. But rather to submit our will fully to God. Jesus said,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel…” – John 5:19-20
Jesus’s secret to great power is full submission to the Father. He will not do anything unless He sees His Father doing it. He professes that He is completely powerless without the Father’s consent. When we rest in the body, we submit ourselves fully to God. And God grants us divine authority to accomplish His will. Prophet Isaiah said,
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. – Isaiah 40:29-31
Indeed, when we rest in the Lord, we will rise up with great power and courage. Jesus rested in the body when He gave up His Spirit to the Father. Subsequently, the Father resurrected Him giving Him divine authority over all creation.
In observing the sabbath, we receive rest in our hearts resulting in peace, rest in our minds resulting in wisdom and rest in the bodies resulting in divine authority. In the process, we work out the sabbath covenant and bring salvation to the world.
Come to Jesus and release to Him all hurts and disappointments. Let His Spirit sanctify your heart and heal your wounds. And you will find rest in your heart.
Come to Jesus and believe in His promises concerning you, for He will never leave you nor forsake you (see Hebrews 13:5). Do not depend on your own understanding but seek His wisdom. And you will find rest in your mind.
Come to Jesus and submit to Him fully. Do not do anything without God’s consent. You will find rest and success in all your endeavours.
Dear Lord, I release my hurts and disappointments for I desire to experience complete rest in you. Sanctify my heart and make me whole. I will not lean on my own understanding but will seek your wisdom continually. I submit myself fully to do your will. Anoint me with your divine power so that I may accomplish your will. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.