Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Be Still My Soul"1 (Lyrics)
Matthew 12:8 – For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. (ESV)
Recently, I was asked to reflect upon what we understand by the Sabbath day today. From the seventh day of the creation story in Genesis, what are God's intentions in instituting the day of rest for humanity?
To cut the theology short, we are designed to have periods of cessation of all work, times for restoration and restitution (Hebrew: Shabbat). These occur at the end of periods of sevens: the Sabbath day — the seventh day; seven years — the Sabbath year; and seven times seven years — the year of jubilee. These are times, in increasing measure, of allowing rest for the land, for the people of God, and for seeking God.
Resetting the clock of everyday existence back to day zero meant that after the year of jubilee, everyone could start afresh with a better chance of success — both the land and its occupants.
In the New Testament, Jesus reframed the idea of Sabbath because in Him is the fulfilment of the law of Sabbath. He rose again after the Sabbath to start a new week, a new era, inaugurating the kingdom of God afresh, with a better chance of finding, through grace, His peace and salvation. Enough said.
I have written about making time, putting time aside, spending time in dialogue before God. For me, it is like washing our hands before we come to eat dinner. As we reach out in faith, praise, and intercession, and read the Bible, we find a conduit to rest our inner beings and to be still. In truth, this is a profound mystery: to wait upon God, only to find that this is a good thing to do, a blessing.
In contrast, sometimes, I find that I am tempted not to bother, having become too focused on something other than God to be still for a moment. My wilfulness and other distractions deny God the attention that He deserves and asks for, and consequently, I deny myself the peace which passes all understanding.
When I become wise to this truth — "I cannot be bothered because of …" — then purely by an act of my will, I set aside time before God. Maybe it is the Holy Spirit prompting me to commune — who knows?
When I am wound up like a spring or just exhausted with life, a quiet time can seem like a thankless exercise, because my heart is just not in it. There seems to be no willpower left to drag myself before the throne.
To feed my being, if I play some Bible readings — audio chapters of Scripture off my phone from the Internet — maybe I can become a little more inclined to hear and receive.
Sometimes, I need sleep, and that is okay, too. Jesus, as Lord of the Sabbath, knows when we need rest, not legalism, and He can give that, too. He is not in a hurry. Jesus is always here waiting for when we are open enough to give out, commune, and receive.
Prayer: Lord, words are only a part of our relationship with You, so we bring our hearts, minds, and actions, too. Come close to us today, and by Your holy presence, instil Your peace, and cast off fear, doubt, and indifference to Your call to be within our lives today. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.