As any artist will confirm, there is something almost magical when a designer injects something of themselves into their creative art. The subject takes on more than just an objective purpose or subjective identity; it quite literally reflects part of the life of the artist. This infusion is true of a child who finger-paints his mood of the day and of the Creator of the universe who reveals himself and his plan of life through the framework of a week.
For in six days God created everything that relates to material, human existence. There is no indication that he needed that much time to produce the universe and all its variety. It is far more likely that the period of a week was intended to communicate something noteworthy to the only part of creation that was made in the image of God, that part which can reason, observe, analyze and in a limited way imitate: the biological entity called Man.
A great deal has been written about the original 7 days of creation. But it seems the final day, the Sabbath day, is seldom contemplated in what it says about human contribution in this thing called life. There spanned some 2000 years between God resting on the seventh day which he declared holy and the requirement for man to honor his Creator by imitating his rest. This became our family bible study lesson as we continued our tour through the book Wineskins.
For most, the commands surrounding Sabbath observance are a constraining straight-jacket upon the independent freedoms of life. The popular refrain is TGIF (F =”for”) Israel and not everyone else. However, truly keeping the Sabbath is more than just an exercise in obedience; it was intended to reveal something significant about the eternal plan of God–a truth that spans all generations, all covenants, and all people!
Since most Christians today do not keep the Sabbath covenant, as given to Israel prior to the Old Covenant at Mt Sinai, it might be helpful to consider what some of the God-demanded expectations were surrounding Sabbath observance. The most familiar restraint required abstinence from any type of work for the believer and anyone under their responsibility, but it didn’t end there. We noted that no food shopping or gathering of any type was allowed.
Hiking or strolling through the fields of flowers was off limits; so was visiting friends on the other side of town. In spite of weather conditions, night-time visibility or the need to cook food, no one was allowed to light fires from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. Carrying loads out of homes or through city gates, including a simple sleeping mat, was strictly forbidden by God. As referenced further in Wineskins, those who violated the Sabbath incurred the divine death penalty. These are not Pharisaical additions, these are the biblical recorded commands of God.
Even beyond these physical limitations, the people were not allowed to do anything that involved pursuit of their own pleasures. In fact, even idle chit-chat and casual conversation on the Sabbath was punishable. Not only were these tight boundaries imposed on a weekly basis, but the nation of Israel was expected to apply them every annual Holy Day, for a total of seven days per year; every seven years, for a full year; and every 50 years, for a full year. On the annual ones, they were not even allowed to plow their fields, plant seed, or do any type of work to sustain themselves…for a full year.
You might reasonably ask, who in the world could ever keep the forth of the Ten Commandments? But such a question might miss the extraordinary truth being revealed. For six days, God planned, created, worked, and put forth effort to bring about a desired result. Everything necessary for life had been accomplished by God prior to the seventh day. Scripture records that even Christ was crucified from the foundation of the world so that the inevitable invasion of sin would be solved before the first Sabbath. Nothing else remained undone. Once God had accomplished everything, then he rested!
That is our hope: God has already done everything! The Sabbath was intended to remind observers that nothing could be lost, missed out on, or left lacking for those willing to rest themselves and trust that God had already arranged everything for them. Whether for a day or for an entire year, God not only would provide, he had already set in motion everything necessary for their blessing. They just needed to demonstrate their faith in his provision by resting from their own pursuits, desires, and efforts.
This amazing truth echoes across the various covenants and into the hearts of those called to faith in Jesus. God has done everything. We don’t need to be anxious about our present or our future, even when our efforts come up short of producing righteousness. What was revealed through the Sabbath Covenant is even more clear through the Lord of the Sabbath. He is our righteousness. His work has been finished. Our trust in his completed work of Creation by resting in him demonstrates our Sabbath belief. What remains is for it to be worked out in our time and space, in the lives and willing choices of his faithful.
How have you discovered the Sabbath by resting in Jesus?