Tonight I had some tomato soup for dinner. It was upsetting to find no saltine crackers after I already prepared the soup. It just wasn’t the same. It didn’t take me long to grumble because there were no crackers, and then remember that I am blessed to have the bowl of soup.
We often forget how blessed we are by God. He gives us so much. We take it for granted. In Romans 11, we read the question, “Who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid?” This basically says we can never out give God. He gives in abundance. He blesses us greatly. Everything comes from God and if we grasp that, we will live with a heart of gratitude and not cling to the things of this earth.
The Sabbath is a special gift to us. We need to remember it’s not just about taking a rest. The Sabbath is so much more. It’s about remembering where everything comes from— GOD. The people were to collect for six days and rest the seventh. In doing so, they were trusting in the provision of God. The people were trusting that God will give them all they need. They recognize everything is from Him.
I love to celebrate the Sabbath. It helps to keep me focused. It helps to keep me thankful. Today, remember “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” Remember that God is the great provider. Trust Him to meet your needs. Rest knowing that He is faithful.
“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.” – Psalm 24:1 [NLT]
“Or who has ever first given to Him, and has to be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:35-36 [HCSB]
As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
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]
In Nehemiah 10, the people are agreeing to a covenant. A covenant is something we see many times in the Bible. A covenant is also known as a partnership, an alliance. I always like to consider it as a promise which outlines a relationship’s boundaries. When we look at a covenant between God and His people, we can see that it is a spiritual agreement.
The process of entering into a covenant is interesting. It was something pagans participated in, as well as the Jewish people. First, it is important to note the pre-ceremony actions. This is a time when the different sides discussed terms. We see this happening in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham. There is also a time of representative selections. With regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, God and Abraham were the representatives. During the covenant process, there is typically an exchange of belts, weapons, or robes. Then there is the walk unto death part of the process. This is where the people walk around the sacrifice and basically say, “Do so to me as has been done to this animal if I break this covenant.” We see God doing this with Abraham in Genesis 15:17, as the smoking fire pot and flaming torch pass through. There is a pronouncement of blessings and curses, an exchange of names, and a covenant meal to share as part of the covenant sealing process. We cannot forget the seal of the covenant, where we have a sign of the covenant that will be remembered. For Noah, it was the Rainbow. For Moses, it was the Sabbath.
It is awesome to study about covenants, but it is most important for us to understand these covenants with the vantage point of the New Covenant. Remember friends, we entered into a New Covenant. Jesus is our representative (Son of Man), God’s representative (Son of God), and He was the sacrifice (Lamb of God). He took off His robe of glory to come to us, and we now have His righteousness (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus’ walk unto death was His walk from Gethsemane to the Cross. The sign of the New Covenant is a circumcised heart (Romans 2:28-29). As you share in the Lord’s Supper, and one day as you share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you are sharing the covenant meal. Today, thank God for the New Covenant, and most important, for our Representative and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
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]