Theology of Leisure

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken. -Isaiah 58:13-14

Genesis 2:2 “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work” “The spiritual rest which God especially intends in this commandment [to keep the Sabbath holy] is that we not only caease from our labor and trade but much more–that we let God alone work in us and that in all our powers do we do nothing of our own” –Martin Luther

Ezekiel 20:12 “Also I gave them My sabbaths to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.

Matthew 12:18 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

The Sabbath has always interested me, and for a few years now, it has been my conviction to keep the Sabbath, in a New Testament sort of way. I have chosen Sunday, the Lord’s Day, celebrated since the Resurrection of Christ, to be my day of quiet rest and reflection. I have also been convicted of the significance of the Sabbath day. Why are there so many references to the Sabbath, its importance, and it being our gift from God, if New Testament believers shouldn’t benefit from it as well? It isn’t a day to be kept out of duty, but out of love, and it is a blessing from God! Mark 2:27 Jesus said to them, ” The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

In addition to the Sabbath, God gave the Israelites their year of Jubilee every 50th year to celebrate His goodness. In that year, they were to cease from all their labor, including planting and reaping! Imagine the trust and preparation that would take to be ready for that year! (It’s interesting to note that we never actually see the Israelites celebrating that year in the Old Testament records. Is it possible that they wouldn’t allow themselves to cease long enough to recognize God’s provision and goodness?)

So many times in my life, I am tempted to do just that. I am tempted to take my work, my life, my finances, into my own hands and not trust it into God’s. I believe one of the major reasons that God gave us the Sabbath was to learn to trust Him even more! My husband and I are in a place in our lives where we take every hour of work we can get, but there are two times that we simply refuse to take hours, no matter how strapped we might be for cash at the time. First is date night. We guard that tightly. Second, is Sunday. I will not take hours on Sunday, because I know I need that rest, and also because I know that my taking work on that day demonstrates that I do not trust God to provide for me. And so I haven’t, and God has faithfully provided every month!

In yesterday’s chapel on the “Theology of Leisure,” Mr. O’Neal stated that we cannot leisure well if we have not labored well. What a profound and true statement this is! I find that if I have been “ceasing” lazily during the week, from homework or housework, I find it impossible to cease on the day when the Lord leads me to, because my work has not been unto Him during the week, nor has it been done as well as it should have been done. But oh, the joy of truly resting when a good six days of labor have been spent! We are to labor on those six days, and labor well, so that on the seventh, we can find peace in the rest that He grants us!

“To develop the habit of Sabbath keeping requires some intentionality on our part, but ultimately it sets us free from any sort of legalism,” writes Marva Dawn in “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly”, and it is so true! We have disregarded the Sabbath in this day and age in a panic to set aside anything that might cause legalism. But true and faithful observance of this day of rest God has blessed us with is exactly the opposite if we would take the time to look at what His Word says about it and recognize the freedom that is ours in Christ. Jesus Himself healed and “worked” on the Sabbath, and yet the Bible also says that He faithfully kept it. It is a time to cease fromthat which is our “work”, rest in Christ, embrace our freedom in Him, and feast on His goodness!

So I encourage you to take some time, pray, and see what the Bible has to say about the Sabbath day in your life, instead of just brushing it off with “it doesn’t apply to the New Testament” 😉 Happy resting!

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stevo on March 29, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    I was thinking while reading your blog that it is interesting that the sabbath was not initiated in the OLD COVENANT but rather at the beginning with God from His work as well as at the beginning stage of man before there was any “covenant”. This makes it interesting as to who does the Sabbath apply to. Love you Ashley!

    -Stephen

    Reply

  2. Posted by tie.crawler on March 31, 2007 at 4:27 pm

    I think in any discussion of Sabbath-keeping for New Testament believers you have to distinguish between the “Sabbath” as part of the Decalogue and “day of rest” as instituted (and exemplified) in the creation week.

    I don’t think we are “required” to keep the Sabbath as NT believers, but we should follow God’s example and keep a day of rest.

    Make sense?

    Reply

  3. Posted by tie.crawler on April 2, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Just as a side note:

    As I edit together an online video, the prof said that the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant (just as circumcision was the sign for the Abrahamic Covenant). Since we’re not under the Mosaic Covenant anymore, we’re not under the Sabbath.

    Take that for what it’s worth.

    Reply

  4. Posted by Ashley Nicole on April 3, 2007 at 1:28 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly that we are not under the old covenant, so the blessings and cursings under those covenants are not fully applicable to me. It should be noted, however, that the word for “sabbath” is the Hebrew “Shabbath”, which is the same word in English as “rest.”

    So, in Genesis 2:2-3, it says “by the seventh day, God completed his work, which He had done, and He sabbathed (transliterated)on the seventh day from all the work He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it, He sabbathed from all His work, which God had created to make.” At the beginning of time, God set apart a day for rest prior to any covenants. When Hebrews were reading the scriptures, they wouldn’t have made a distinction between his “rest” and his “sabbath.” It is this principle of a set apart day of rest, sanctified by God in the beginning, that I seek to follow.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Anonymous on May 6, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    It’s interesting that Noah was so named because the hope of “rest from our work” was a re-telling of the story of a promised deliverer from the sin curse pronounced in Genesis 3. I like to see this sabbath rest as in Jesus “for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works as God did from His(Heb4:10). We see that they (Israel) were not able to enter (the rest/promised land) because of unbelief (Heb3:19). We’ve repented of our “dead works” and believed in God (Heb6:1) – this is elementary instruction. How do we fulfill the Sabbath? Walk by faith – in the Spirit! Walk by faith in Jesus! You’ll find yourself fulfilling all the Law. Loving God and your neighbor is to fulfill the Sabbath law, not to mention the whole Law of GOD (Rom8:1-4).

    Reply

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