In Nehemiah 13, we read that the people were once again not keeping the Sabbath. Today, people do not understand the importance of the Sabbath. Many people consider that since most places are open on Sundays, that we need not celebrate the Sabbath. Some people may consider the Sabbath something people celebrated during “the time of the Bible,” but not something that we need continue nowadays.
I love the Sabbath and thank God for this great gift. The Sabbath was instituted since Creation. It is something that is part of Creation. Consider the rhythms of the world that God has created. Part of the Creation was active, but then there was rest. This is how we were created, as we are part of Creation. We need to have a rhythm of life, where there is an active working part, and then a time of rest. I typically celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, but there are moments when I preach or teach, that I celebrate another day. Understand the Sabbath is about having that day of rest with God.
God gave us the Sabbath as a gift. We should show gratitude for this gift, and we should also want to celebrate the gift. This is a time we can get ourselves realigned with the Father. This is a time we can get ourselves refueled for the next week. This is a time we can grow closer to God. This is a time when we can fellowship with the Lord without distractions. This is a time of rest, reconnection, and renewal. Be sure that you take a day this week, and celebrate the Sabbath! Continue this rhythm in your life each week. You will come to realize the importance of this special, holy day.
“They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day” – Exodus 16:29 [NLT]
Gift of Sleep
For many years of my life I had a problem sleeping. I had very bad insomnia. Then I worked night shift for many years because if I couldn’t sleep at night, at least I could be productive. This crazy schedule changed my mind’s understanding of sleep. It was almost like I forgot how to sleep. On some days I was lucky to get an hour or two of sleep. It was horrible. I tried different methods in hopes of getting sleep. I took pills. I drank herbal tea. I listened to music. The list goes on and on.
God made us as beings who need rest. We cannot keep pushing ourselves along without sleep and still function properly. We need to rest. We need sleep. It’s a fact. Yet in society, we see more products introduced to help keep us awake longer. Rather than rest, people speak of taking the energy drinks—the Monsters and the 5 Hour Energy Drinks are very popular. People want to stay up for long periods of time. They have work to do—overtime to complete, projects to finish, etc. Rather than sleep, people believe enough caffeine will be satisfactory.
The Psalmist reminds us that God wants us to sleep—“He gives to His beloved sleep.” That’s YOU! He gives you sleep. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest.” There should be no reason to get up real early and then go to bed in the wee hours of the night. Rest is important. It refuels us. It strengthens us. It revitalizes us. And it’s a gift—a gift from God. So tonight, accept this gift of sleep. If you’re having problems getting settled in, put it in God’s hands and in time may you find the joy of rest that I found after I gave my insomnia to God. My many sleepless nights are a distant memory—each night I am able to close my eyes and thank God for His great gift.
“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” – Psalm 127:2 [ESV]
Many times we see the commands of the Bible as obligations, as rules that keep us from something that might be enjoyable. But when you actually look at the commands, you can see a loving Father who is trying to do what is best for His children. The Sabbath day was given to us as a gift of rest, not as an obligation. Yet some people find reasons not to accept this gift because something else is more appealing.
God gave us the Sabbath as a day to rest. God gave us the Sabbath day to remind us that He is the Lord. God gave us the Sabbath day as a beautiful gift. It is just that.
Many years ago I was working so much that I didn’t have a day of rest. It made for a bad life. Not only was I not living healthy, but I also was not able to spend the time I need to with God. Slowly I got back this gift from God. Today I can say I no longer work on the Sabbath. It is a day to rest for my family. We have family time. We read. We worship. We watch football or a movie. We enjoy what God has given us and we thank Him for this gift. Life is very different because of this gift of rest.
“And I gave them my Sabbath days of rest as a sign between them and me. It was to remind them that I am the LORD, who had set them apart to be holy.” – Ezekiel 20:12 [NLT]