Growing up, I never really studied the meaning of the Sabbath. I knew it was on Sunday’s and that it was basically a day to relax from work and have fun.
It wasn’t until I was a married adult that I began to realize and discover how much we NEEDED a day of rest together.
Although I wasn’t completely off in my understanding, I’ve definitely become more aware of the necessity and blessing a day like the Sabbath is not only to us individually, but for our marriages as well.
(Side note: When I talk about the Sabbath, I do not mean that it MUST be on Sunday. From what I’ve learned, it is one day out of the seven that you can choose to rest from all work. I have had many jobs where I’ve worked on Sundays, especially pastors and ministry friends. Typically they will take Monday’s off. Please just note that while reading this post. Thanks!)
Short biblical history lesson
To understand and fully appreciate the beauty of the Sabbath, it’s important to understand the biblical context behind the Sabbath.
The book of Genesis (Gen. 2:2-3) is where God established 1 day out of 7 being a day of rest. Which begs the question that if God took time to rest, shouldn’t we? I’m just sayin.’
Moving on, the Sabbath is referenced again in Exodus 20:11 (ESV): “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Keywords to note in vs. 11: “Blessed” and “made it holy” — we’ll come back to this.
Later in Exodus, we see God explaining the importance of the Sabbath to Moses, who has just led the Israelites out of slavery from Egypt under Pharaoh. See, the people of Israel were receiving instructions from God on how to live as a sinful people to a holy and perfect God.
Part of living in obedience with God meant setting aside one day out of their week to rest and acknowledge God as their sanctifier; the one who has saved them, set them aside and made them holy.
Exodus 31:13 (ESV) “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”
If you read further into Exodus 31 you’ll begin to understand the severity of God’s commandments to His people. Although we do not necessarily face physical death (referenced in Exodus 31: 14) if we do not observe the Sabbath.
However, I would argue to say that we might face death in other ways, specifically in our marriage.
Too many times wee don’t set any time aside to rest and simply BE married. This means not working, not racing around running errands, but taking ONE day out of the week to not work or talk about work, but to simply REST.
Rest together. Find a place in your area that breathes life back into your tired souls and dream together!
Often Ryan and I will take a drive. We usually carry a pen and paper because it’s always a beautiful time of freedom and refreshment and we want to write down the conversations and memories we share.
Exodus 31:16-17 (ESV) “Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”
Being Christians, followers of Christ, we are God’s people. This applies to us! If God had to rest on the seventh day, how can we skip over a Sabbath and not rest? Take a moment and review your week. Crazy busy no doubt, especially if you have children.
If the Creator of the universe, who not only designed the world, but brought it to life (we LIVE IN IT!) had to take a day and rest, how much more should the Sabbath be a part of week? We need to be refreshed in our marriages! Otherwise we turn into stale bread: hard and stinky. Refreshment in your marriage needs to happen weekly.
I would also encourage you to look at your yearly calendar and pick out a weekend to get away (without the kiddos) and spend time in prayer and do some planning for the upcoming year. Let it be a precious time of refreshment for you and your spouse.
There was a message I heard preached about the Sabbath a few years ago and it radically changed my perspective.
Basically, when we don’t take a day off to rest; when we decide to keep spinning our wheels to try and get ahead, we are essentially saying to God, “Hey, I got this. You’re not my Provider, I can do it on my own.” –Ouch!
It’s taken Ryan and I a few years to learn this lesson (still feel like we are learning). When we acknowledge WHO God is as our Provider, Savior, Sanctifier, and Healer — taking one day off to rest in Him is miniscule. I understand deadlines and projects – don’t get me wrong. There are times when you need to be a good steward and work diligently (as unto the Lord, Col. 3:23).
Just not EVERY week.
At the end of a big project, REST. We have nothing to fear; HE is our Provider. Friends, He carries our burdens, He is faithful to supply all of our needs. This world needs fierce marriages that set boundaries and say, “I trust God and because I trust Him, I set aside a Sabbath with my spouse.”
God has made this day “holy” and “blessed.” Rest in that knowledge.
Fight fiercely this next week by setting aside a Sabbath to rest in God’s goodness, refresh your relationship and to recognize WHO God is in your life.
(Photo courtesy of Nana B. Agyei)