This past Sunday I concluded a sermon series called “Running on Empty.” If you have ever run low on fuel in your vehicle, you know what you need to do – Stop and Refuel. But even with all the warning lights in our vehicle, sometimes we run out of gas.
I think God gives us warning lights in our life when we are running on empty. Stress, sickness, distractions and many other events cause us to be overwhelmed with the complexities of life. The best thing we can do is stop and refuel our mind, body, and soul.
God has provided a weekly stop for our life. It is called a Sabbath. It is God’s maintenance for our mind, body, and soul. It is also one of the 10 Commandments.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” (Exodus 20:8-11).
How should we remember the Sabbath?
Sabbath means rest. Rather a day or longer time period, a sabbath is a time to pull away from the ordinary tasks of life and give us a chance to be renewed. Even God modeled a day of rest after 6 days of creation, though He was not weary (Exodus 8:11).
Many have abused this day of rest. The Jews had 39 different classifications of work. For example, carrying a burden was work. But they needed to define what a burden was. A child was not a burden so you could carry your child. But a rock was a burden. So you couldn’t carry your child if he had a rock in his hand. Then they had to define what a ‘rock’ was. It soon become more work to define what work was than the work itself.
But the Sabbath was given to help people, not make more work. It was reported that years ago in London a donkey that worked 7 days a week could carry a burden for about 15 miles a day. But if the donkey was given a day of rest each week, the donkey could travel almost 30 miles a day fully loaded. Rest gave the donkey strength to do more work. You can accomplish more by giving your self a day of rest each week.
It is well known that reasonably spaced and carefully used work breaks increase productivity. But too many people take too much rest. This command not only commands rest, but it commands working for 6 days.
The Sabbath was not designed just a day of inactivity. It was a day of worship. Primarily, the Sabbath was to be a holy day.
In 1924 Scottish runner Eric Liddell trained to win the 100 meter race at the Olympics. He was predicted to win. Then Eric learned the race was scheduled for Sunday. This posed a problem because Eric believed he could not honor God by running on the Lord’s Day. So he dropped out of the race. His fans and the entire country were stunned. He was called a fool. Suddenly a runner dropped out of the 400 meter race, scheduled on a week day. Eric offered to fill the slot even though it was 4 times longer than the race he trained for. When the race was run, Eric Liddel set a world record of 47.6 seconds and won the gold medal. His example has helped others to keep God first in their life.
But all this talk of keeping the Sabbath holy begs to ask the question, ‘What day is the Sabbath?’ To the Jews, the Sabbath was Saturday, the seventh day of the week. But notice this command doesn’t say to honor the seventh day of the week. It only says to honor the ‘seventh day.’
For many Christians, Sunday has become their Sabbath – their day of rest and worship. Reasons include:
- Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday.
- The Holy Spirit was given to the apostles on a Sunday.
- The early church met regularly for worship on Sundays.
- The history of Christian churches has worship on Sunday.
But Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. Nowhere are we commanded to rest or worship on Sunday. But we the principle is still the same. Every seven days you need a day to rest and worship.
As a pastor, I do a lot of work on Sunday. So Sunday is not my Sabbath of rest. But it is my Sabbath of worship. God gets my whole day, not just Sunday morning for an hour of worship service. My day of rest is generally on Friday.
I would encourage you, if at all possible, to make Sunday your Sabbath day. If Sunday is not your day, find one. It was Jesus’ custom to rest on His Sabbath and go to worship on His Sabbath. Follow the example of Jesus.
Is Sunday a holy day or a holiday?