On a gloriously sunny, cool Sunday in October, I made my way to the Rideau Falls here in Ottawa, the place where the Rideau River tumbles into the Ottawa River, surrounded by parkland and memorial gardens. The week's demands had made my soul weary, and I wandered across the Rideau dam's crosswalk to marvel at the little rainbows dancing in the waterfall's mist, seeking some peace of mind. I walked along the banks of the Rideau, enjoying the calls of the Canada geese floating along together in the current, and crossed the Minto Bridge, stopping to photograph the glory of the autumn foliage and sunlight glinting on the winding river below.
I have heard much over the years in church about how the Sabbath is to be celebrated, mostly prohibitions from certain kinds of activity. Instruction on this is given in Exodus:
Exodus 20:8-11 – Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (NIV)
This is a command to respect the seventh day — a special, sacred day to be separate from the six others, established by the Creator. The church celebrates the Sabbath on the first day of the week in honour of the Lord's resurrection, and the Sabbath is a shadow of what is to come, the completed work of God, and the wonderful rest awaiting us in His heaven.
Having too much to do in my own life is the very reason that I need to take a time of rest! If God created the universe, the earth, the sea and all living things, and then rested, surely this is all the reason that I need to rest myself, in my journey with Him. In a way, the day of rest is a picture of the rest that we have in the Lord Jesus, because in His life and death, He completed the work for rest. It is not for us to try to save ourselves by our own efforts, but for Him to save us by our believing in Him. Every day is a Sabbath, really, because we can experience true rest in Him for our salvation and journey to holiness.
God has given us the Sabbath because we need it, spiritually and physically, to join in the praise of God's people, to enjoy fellowship, and to put the to-do list aside for the day. Next to that, there is no better way to experience His rest and revel in His created work than to walk and admire the glory of His autumn trees and rivers. I pray that you will experience the daily rest of salvation in your lives, and the special day of rest each week.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord for the Sabbath that You established for the people who love and journey with You. We praise You for Your saving work in Your death and resurrection to give us eternal rest from sin and its destructive consequences. As we celebrate You in the day of rest, guide us in Your peace. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "Lord Who At Cana's Wedding Feast" (Lyrics)