Mention the Ten Commandments and witness a collective duck and cover from flying salvos of guilt and shame. Understandable! The letter of the law kills, but we are ministers of a New Covenant that brings life.<2Cor 3:6> So, let’s bring Life to the Sabbath.
God created the heavens and the earth in six days, “And on the seventh day God finished His work; and He rested…” <Gen2:2a> God took glory in His good, finished and perfect work, and later commanded us to “Remember the Sabbath Day, keep it holy.” <Exodus 20:8>
Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Masterfully, the word “sabbath” and “rest” are the same basic Hebrew word, Shabbat.
This is not rest as we normally think of it. It simply means the ending of activity, the cessation of effort. God was not tired by His creative work, He did not need to rest to restore strength. He did not stop because He was fatigued; Mankind was His last creative effort and He stopped because He was finished and wanted to enjoy. Therefore true sabbath is not the keeping of a special day, but the ending of a specific effort.
Old Testament references to Sabbath were symbolic, predictions, a picture of the coming One who would end man’s effort and bring peace on earth. God finished His work of creation (the word “finished” used twice in Gen 2:1-2), and it was perfect. After the fall when the curse of sin fell upon the earth, redemption of sin was required by yet another perfect work. Jesus on the cross taking sin upon Himself stated once again with His last words, “It is finished.” It was the ending of our effort to be righteous, we can now rest in Him. Jesus is our Sabbath.
“The Day” we are born again is “The Day” we enter Sabbath rest. In Christ we are made perfect for God to enjoy, and by His work it gives us freedom, power and authority to carry forward the Good News. Our new birth is meant to bring peace on earth goodwill to men. We become the Body of Christ commissioned to bring heaven to earth. We no longer labor in the law, but rest in His Spirit. Salvation is the 7th Day where our labor ceases and we rest in His perfect work. We are instructed to keep it holy (made whole; set apart from thinking we can achieve anything outside of Christ <John 15:5>).
“For it is God who works in you…” <Phil 2:13> Jesus stated, “…but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” <John 14:10> “…The Son can do nothing by Himself…”<John 5:19> Paul cries, “Not I, but Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”<Gal 2:20> A life in Christ is to cease from dependence on one’s own activity, and rest in dependence upon the activity of Another who lives within. This is the fulfillment of the Sabbath.
Guarding your peace is the spiritual battle, and don’t be deceived… fighting for peace is war! Without peace the believer is powerless and unable to hear the Father’s voice or conduct the King’s business. Therefore everything of this world is designed to allure, distract and capture your attention to the chaos and unrest that destroys your peace. Without a spirit at rest, we have nothing to give to others besides adding to life’s turmoil. We can’t be the light of the world when our own world is dark or dim. Only a spirit at peace can calm a storm. When we’re frenetic we fall prey to the work of our own hands. We have no ability to bring calm, healing, or freedom to our marriage, children, relationships, neighbors, work environment or ministry without being in a poised and prepared state of spiritual Sabbath.
Are you able to overcome the situations life throws at you everyday? Are you confident in the whole armor of God? Are you panic-proof? Are you flowing with fruit and abundance? God’s rest is designed to produce this. He makes it available for this purpose and it’s the only thing that can do it; there is no substitute. If by our best efforts we can barely rise to a level of coping, it’s because we’re depending upon our own effort and still learning to keep the Sabbath Day holy.
God understands. He created us and knows exactly the way we operate. Therefore He designed an adequate provision for our weakness, teaching us how to operate in an entirely new way, to no longer look to oneself but to look to the One who lives within; to expect Him to do something through you, using your mind, your will, your emotions, your feelings, but it is He who does the work. However, without intentionally entering into this process by faith and relying upon His work, we’ll never experience it. We must die so He can live.
We are called to a life of purpose with a spirit at rest; to guard our hearts. It’s an impossible assignment without keeping the Sabbath Day holy, (The Day we entered His rest) and keeping focus on The Day we’ll meet Him face to face. It is a spiritual/eternal worldview and the only lens by which we can see what the Father is doing. Even when diligently at work with our hands on the plow, a spirit at rest brings heaven to earth. Such a spiritual being is purpose-filled and can effectively love even their enemies, make wise decisions, change an atmosphere, be present and able to ignore interruptions that are intent on stealing a moment. Such a spiritual being is a light, a healing presence that calms storms and bears fruit. It is neither natural or normal. It is in fact, a supernatural inhabitation of human behavior scripture describes as “Life in the Spirit.” Hallelujah!
God uses trials to teach us to place our trust in Him and mature us into approaching each new challenge with sheer joy.<James 1:2> After all, warriors are eager to fight. Rising above the carnage this world heaps upon us is our calling. Overcomer’s must have something to overcome to display faith to others. Soldiers can’t be moved, they stand victoriously on The Rock in the midst of ever-increasing turmoil, steadfast in their purpose to battle test their faith.
The harvest is plenty but the laborers are few — the world grows more chaotic while the King seeks warriors of peace in every shape, size, gender, color, ethnicity, age and denomination. God’s ultimate desire is for His Sabbath Warriors to rise up in one spirit and reflect the beauty of His Kingdom on earth; shelters in a storm. This is anything but a defeated people, but humble, fearless lovers of a lost and hurting world; warriors of peace.
A spirit at rest is the secret of human fruitfulness. As you consent to this, a wonderful thing will begin to happen. You will find a peace beyond comprehension in the only place it truly exists: Jesus Christ.
Remember the Sabbath Day, keep it holy.
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” <Matthew 11:28-30>