Lord of the Sabbath
Thursday - September 16th
Scripture to Read Today: Matthew 12:1-8
"The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
The Hebrew word sabat means "to rest or stop or cease from work." The Sabbath dates to the beginning of time. After creating the universe in six days, God "rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 2:2). This does not imply that God was exhausted or in need of a break.
God is all-powerful. He possesses all the universe's power and is never weary. Even the most strenuous exertion of energy has no effect on the quality or quantity of His power. So, what does it mean that God rested on the seventh day? Simply put, He came to a halt in what He was doing. He came to an end of His toil. This is critical to grasp the origins of the Sabbath day. Rest from toil did not emerge from the sin of Adam as part of the curse. Rest was built into us by our very creation.
Jesus called Himself the "Lord of the Sabbath" (Matthew 12:8). As God, He rested on the seventh day of creation. He commanded that the Jewish people carve out and honor the seventh day of the week as a holy day of rest and rejuvenation. Because Jesus established the pattern of rest from the beginning, many refer to Him as "our sabbath rest."
When the Pharisees chastised Him for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that, sinful as they were, they would not hesitate to rescue a sheep from a pit on the Sabbath. He could break the Sabbath regulations because He came to seek and save lost sheep. His sheep would hear His voice (John 10:3,27). They would join the eternal Sabbath rest He established with His crucifixion and resurrection.
People are more important than sheep, and the salvation He told the Pharisees He came to establish was far more vital than regulations. He declared, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). In doing so, he claimed that Sabbath rest was established to relieve man of his labors, just as He came to relieve us of our attempts to gain salvation via our good works. While the Sabbath command is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament, the principle of rest is. Jesus' own life exemplified it!
Rest is a grace given to us by God. Rest is something that becomes more precious when you know Jesus as your Savior. When we understand God's purpose for our lives and aren't so busy that we burn out serving that purpose, we experience unbelievable freedom. Taking a day weekly to rest and relax is not only a healthy thing to do, it is something the Scriptures encourage us to do!
How are you doing at getting a good night's rest, taking time to relax when you are not working, or setting aside a day a week to pause and let God revitalize you? Unfortunately, most of us Americans do life at such a pace, we eliminate healthy rest from the routines of life.
Submit to the One Who is the Lord of the Sabbath. Submit your life to His desire for you to be refreshed and renewed. If you don't, you will just continue down the path of being frazzled and worn out. So then, take some time this week to rest - no matter how uncomfortable it feels at first!
God will bless you as you submit your life - even your rest and your sleep - to the One Who is the Lord of the Sabbath!