Our natural response to fear and anxiety is fight or flight. It takes intention to respond in any other way. God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath Day is a primary way to find both certainty and rest.
I. Certainty (Exodus 31:12-13, 17a)
Setting aside the Lord’s Day for worship will refocus us away from fears onto certainty.
A. God’s Word: Through Moses, God set up the standard by which all future revelation would be discerned. Every writing prophet or apostle had to teach in continuity with Moses and have it confirmed by a miracle. That means the Bible you hold in your hands is the actual word of God. The promises it makes, the standards it sets, and the reality it describes could not be more reliable than if Christ himself were to sit beside you and speak those words audibly to you. We must give God’s Word first place in our lives when it comes to discerning what is right, good, and true. As you observe your patterns throughout the week, where is your primary source of truth coming from and how much time are you giving it?
B. God’s Love: Psalm 92:1-2 begins, “A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night. One of the reasons we worship morning and evening is that believing that God loves us is not our natural disposition. We need to be reminded. In the Sabbath, God has given us an entire day within which he reminds us of his love. Think back to an experience where you were fearful or anxious. How would a belief in God’s love affect that experience?
C. God’s Salvation: When we rest from our work on the Sabbath, we are reminded of God’s grace. How? Because God gives us 7 days of provision for 6 days of work. In other words, it is a picture of the gospel. We get what we could ever earn by our own merit. Do you struggle to stop working? Why might that be? How can you trust God in this way?
II. Rest (Exodus 31:14-16, 17b)
Resting on the Lord’s Day requires three things…
A. Ceasing: The focus here should be, “What draining activity (because of the Fall) does my loving Father give me permission to cease on this day in order to rest physically and be refreshed emotionally? How would you answer that question? Is there a way you can put this into practice?
B. Embracing: Embracing means we must be intentional. Prepare ahead, especially on Saturday so that Sunday can be the special gift intended. Those who have seen the Sabbath throughout the centuries as a gift and not a burden have typically been intentional in prayerful and prudent preparation. Are there any specific ways you can prepare both physically (around the house) and spiritually for the Lord’s Day so that you can derive the full benefit from it?
C. Feasting: This is an invitation to do that which refreshes and refuels you. Maybe it’s being in creation. Maybe it’s reading for hours on end. Maybe it’s riding your bike. What is it for you?
For Further Study:
The outline of the second point is owing to Marva J. Dawn, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting.