The Practical Sabbath
In September, we have been looking at various Scriptures concerning the Sabbath. We have established that the Sabbath, a day of rest, was instituted alongside of time (Gen. 1.1-4). The Sabbath day rest is not a Law like the other Mosaic Laws, but an actual part of and natural experience of creation itself. A time to rest, a day to rest, is as natural to the created order as sleeping, eating and procreating. The Holy Trinity has established a rest period for His creation since the founding of time (Gen. 2-1-3).
I have received many questions about how to practice the Sabbath, I have received questions such as “Why do we practice the Sabbath on Sunday, not Saturday?” and “You said that working on your garden is not breaking the Sabbath, but I just think we shouldn’t do anything like that.” These are all great questions, and we need to decide for ourselves, each one, what energizes or drains us, and stay away from those draining activities on the Sabbath. Hopefully many of these questions can be answered during the message “Sabbath Made for Man,” go ahead and listen to it if you have any other questions.
Concerning how to practice the Sabbath in a meaningful way, I have added links to a couple of articles that I found that I think answer that question well. But here are some guidelines, a sort of synthesis of these articles. The Jews practice Sabbath with two biblical elements, Remember and Observe. I will use these as a guideline.
How to practice a restful Sabbath:
- Remember – Remembering the Holy Trinity’s saving action toward humans
- Reading Scripture: The Sabbath is meant to be a restful experience, where we reorient ourselves back towards God. Scripture is the primary way that God reveals Himself to us.
- Pray: If Scripture is the primary means of God’s communication towards us, then prayer, conversation with God, is us engaging with God.
- Community: If you practice your Sabbath on Sunday, this is fulfilled by your church family, if not, try to meet with fellow believers andpray or share stories of your life. Take time to explore what God is doing, how He’s moving and changing you.
- Observe – Observing the Sabbath has to do with how we are practicing the Sabbath.
- Take time to do something “unimportant”: Schedule some time in your day to enjoy nature, or read a book, or chat with your spouse about something insignificant.
- Find what energizes or drains you: Once you have identified those things that drain your battery, don’t do them. Stay away from those things. If doing yard work energizes you, if you enjoy yard work, go ahead a do it. But if tending your garden is draining, if it feels like a chore, stay away from it. If you enjoy being around a lot of people, if that energizes you, spend time with a group of friends. If you are drained by company, spend some alone time.
- Organize your day around your time with God: Like I wrote about in the “Remember” section, the purpose of the Sabbath is to reorient ourselves around God’s work in our lives. And prayer, Scripture Reading and worship need to be the climax of our Sabbath. Organize your day around your reading and prayer time.
Ultimately, the practice of the Sabbath depends entirely on the individual. If we somehow miraculously reinstated the “Blue Laws” and made it illegal to work on Sunday, or any one day for that matter, there would still be Christians who wouldn’t practice the Sabbath. We would go on, draining our battery, going our own way. And we would be just as tired and weak as we are now. The integrity of the Sabbath relies on individuals taking seriously what God takes seriously, and practicing the Sabbath for themselves.
Here are two articles, 5 Practical Ways to Take a Sabbath and Biblical & Practical Applications for Establishing a Sabbath Rest that will help usbegin to reimagine the Sabbath’s rest for each one of us.
Depart in Peace, in the Name of the Lord.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord, henceforth and forevermore.