Ten Covenant Words (Commandments) Rest
The Next Commandment
Psalm 107:31-32 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men. Let them exalt him in the assembly of people and praise him in the council of elders.
Exodus 20:8-11 (NLT) “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.
Part of the covenant God made with the children of Israel included remembering that on the seventh day even God rested (Genesis 2:2-3). God provided work for men and women and he also made a provision for rest. That’s why the Sabbath is holy. God knew man would need to work hard to till the land and man would need to recover and take time to play as well.
Remembering…Is important. God knew if man worked for seven days and didn’t take time to stop he would wear out, grow discouraged, and lose hope. God also knew that physically man would need to rest.
God’s provision on the Sabbath included time to relax and play. The children of Israel had been in slavery for hundreds of years and they needed to be reprogramed to take time to relax. The children of Israel needed to learn how to celebrate what God had done. With the covenant God was establishing a way for them to remember by celebrating what God had done. God was laying a foundation for the children of Israel to celebrate their heritage and hope.
The other side to the Sabbath covenant involved taking time to spend with God. Resting in God means we spend time with God. In doing so, they would develop a deeper understanding of YHWH, the God of their fathers. God wanted his children take time for Him.
The Hebrew word for ‘remember’ means to recall or to bring to your memory. Just like Mary the Mother of Jesus treasured or ‘held in her heart’ what she had seen, we are to treasure and hold in our hearts a time of rest. Essentially God was making a covenant with his children to separate time for themselves and consider it holy time.
The word ‘Shabbat’ in Hebrew means Sabbath. The specified amount of time was one day – a marking of time – the seventh day in creation when God rested. A day for them was from sundown to sunup. The Hebrew word for rest is Nuach which is a verb that means ‘to rest’. In the wilderness God gave Israel a double portion of food on the sixth day so they would have food for the seventh day of rest (Exodus 16:5). Find more information here: reformjudiasm.org/mysterious-origins-sabbath.
Since the wilderness journey followed living in Egypt for 430 years (ending with years in slavery), Israel would have been indoctrinated with Egyptian gods. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have been known to them, but they would have also known the Egyptian gods. As a result, God was very intentional with Israel after the left Egypt. The ten covenant words (commandments) included specific ways for them to live. That included a time of rest.
A day of rest in ancient Israel would have included spending time with family, eating a simple meal that had been prepared prior to the Sabbath, and spending time with God.
In today’s world, setting aside 24 hours for rest can be difficult if you work a job that isn’t conducive to a Monday to Friday work week. Plus, if you have small children it’s going to need to be intentionally planned. It was also difficult in ancient Israel. Children do not rest for 24 hours, nor do livestock. In other words, it stands to reason that some activity would have been necessary.
At the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had established a specific set of rules for the Sabbath. They watched Jesus and often chided Him for what he did on the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). However according to scripture Jesus did not come to destroy the Sabbath (Luke 16:17, Matthew 12:7-8). Jesus’ intent was not to destroy the words of the Law or the Prophets. His intent was always to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).
That is what we need to focus on today. Jesus’ intent was to help us understand what a ‘holy’ time of ‘rest’ looks and feels like. God knew when He created the world that man was finite and would need to rest and spend time with God. In the wilderness, God made a way for Israel to eat and rest by giving them two days of provision on the sixth day. At the time of Jesus, He intentionally healed someone on the Sabbath. I say that because Jesus WAS intentional. Jesus was saying, ‘don’t let someone suffer’.
We are reminded that Sabbath (the time period from 6 p.m. Friday evening to 6 p.m. Saturday) was/is the designated time period for Holy Rest. Today, the people who follow Jesus rest on Sunday. We traditionally worship together on Sunday (but not always). That’s because we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection day which took place on Sunday.
It all seems a little unclear as a holy day of rest has been defined by our culture, but it doesn’t need to be confusing. God’s intent was for us to set aside time for Him. Whenever we do it, make it a holy time. Pray, worship, and celebrate your relationship with God. Spend time with people you are close to, people who love and value each other. That may or may not be family.
And, rest. Rest in God. Take a good nap. Begin with a short prayer and fall asleep in God’s arms.
That is holy. It is a holy place. It’s sacred. That fulfills God’s intent with the covenant.
God loves us and doesn’t want us to suffer. He wants us to sit in His lap and rest.
Rest Psalm 84:1-2 (NLT), “How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies. I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord. With my whole being, body and soul, I will shout joyfully to the living God.”
Holy Exodus 3:5 (NLT), “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.”
Restoration Psalm 80:19 (NLT), “Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.”
Today’s Spiritual Practice: Rest in God
BE thankful for Sabbath time and consider it holy time. BE thankful for fellowship with other believers.
Take time to sit with GOD. Sitting in silence with GOD is a very powerful practice!