Is Sabbath for Today?

Fred McKinnon —  January 16, 2014 — 4 Comments

Sabbath:

This is not a word that we throw around a lot in western culture.  Take a trip overseas to Israel; however, and you will see many signs of the observation of the Sabbath.

Simply put, sabbath means a time of rest.

REST

This is something that is also out of the norm for our western culture.  The busier we are, the more important we seem.  In an effort to keep up with everyone else, we immerse ourselves in so much work and extracurricular activities that we live on the edge of burnout.

Although I realize there are arguments about Jesus Christ fulfilling the law in the New Covenant, I can’t get myself away from the commandment that God gave us to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”.

I’m reading in Exodus 31 and I can’t help but recognize how seriously God takes sabbath:

“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.  You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you.  Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.  Whoever does any work on it, that should shall be cut off from among his people.  Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord.  Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.”  (Exodus 31: 13-15, ESV)

And of course, we know that keeping the Sabbath was one of the original Ten Commandments given by God:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…” (Exodus 20, 8-10a, ESV)

I’ve been convicted about my lack of sabbath for a couple of years.  It’s something we are discussing frequently in our discipleship culture here at SSCC.  I believe that it’s a Godly principle and that God never intended us to abandon it.   I’m not suggesting that a sabbath become as legalistic as some religious cultures would suggest … meaning, you’re unable to walk up stairs, etc.  However, I do believe that God intends us to WORK from our REST.   This means I need to set aside a day, once per week, to remove myself from my work.

For me, my “work” consists of two primary jobs:
1.  the role of a Worship Pastor at SSCC, meaning, I wouldn’t be scheduling musicians, making phone calls, emails, and hashing through setlists on my sabbath.
2.  the role of the owner of HPP Enterprises, meaning, I can’t spend Sabbath days working on my business.

Sabbath would be a true removal of those … forcing myself to rest and spend quality time abiding with God and family.

I’m wrestling with what that looks like for myself and my family.  Since I “work” on Sunday at church, I imagine this would probably be a Saturday. I would like to be more focused on the not working and more focused on the abiding.  I also don’t feel that “rest” means I have to lay in bed all day.  If we have soccer games, I can make that a time of abiding with my family.   I can enjoy an unhurried morning with my kids.  We can spend time together as a family that afternoon, or invite friends to join us for dinner, rest, and encouragement.

I’m far from having this figured out, but adding a consistent rhythm of sabbath rest in my weekly schedule seems to be God’s desire for me.

How about you?  Do you feel that we are still supposed to keep this Commandment, literally?  What does it look like for you?

Fred McKinnon

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Fred McKinnon, Worship Artist, Pianist, Producer. Husband to Joy, Father of Jon Michael, Will, Rebekah, and Andrew. Lives on St. Simons Island, GA.

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  • Tom Kline

    When Jesus gave a list of commandments to the rich young ruler in Matt. 19:18-19, the Sabbath was not included. Similarly, Paul, in 1 Timothy 1:8-10 lists elements of the Law, but makes no mention of the Sabbath.

    In Matthew 11:25-30, Jesus tells his followers that rest (sabbath) is found in Him. Then a few verses later (12:8), Jesus declared himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath. Rest (sabbath) is no longer a day, it is a Person, Jesus Christ. In this way, he fulfilled the law without abolishing it.

    Since our rest is now Jesus, it is no longer limited to one day a week; it is perpetual. We can find rest in Jesus any time we desire.

    • http://www.fredmckinnon.com fmckinnon

      Tom,
      Awesome response. I’ve heard that many times, and have always even believed that (and still do). You expressed it clearly. Yet, at the same time, I can’t help but think there is wisdom in an intentional rhythm of sabbath .. a LITERAL one. Definitely something I’m going to be chewing on!

  • Muhammad Aun Aun
  • Matthew Daniel

    My wife and I have started taking the sabbath over the past few months. It was triggered by attending a liturgical church (Anglican) that celebrates the liturgical calendar. It’s been mind blowing for a good Charismatic Evangelical like me. I actually highly recommend the book Sabbath by Heschel – yep, he’s Jewish. The book was a fascinating read about the Sabbath culture. We’re by no means legalistic about it, but we’ve found that returning to that concept has been life-giving for us, definitely a breath of fresh air – then again, I’m not on staff at a church any more, which makes it much easier. :)