by Andrea Murdock

Honoring the Sabbath

The word sabbath comes to us through many languages. We take its pronunciation and form from Old English, which borrowed the word from Latin, which took it from Greek, who got it from Ancient Hebrew. We encounter the idea of a sabbath day on the opening pages of Scripture in Genesis 2:3: “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of Creation.” God didn’t rest because God was tired, but because the work of Creation was complete. God declared all of creation “supremely good” (1:31b) and made time to enjoy the result.


Observing the sabbath isn’t about having a lazy Sunday, and it’s about more than resting and recovering from the work we’ve done during the other six days of the week (though that is important). The sabbath is a time to reflect on and enjoy the work we’ve done, and it’s a day on which we prepare ourselves for the work ahead. Perhaps most importantly, sabbath time brings us close to our Creator.


Sabbath is a critical concept in Scripture. We see it first when God rests from the work of Creation, but we encounter it again in the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. God instructs them to collect a double portion of manna on the sixth day so that they won’t have to do any work on the seventh (see Exodus 16:4-26). God later includes “Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy” (Exodus 20:8) in the commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and declares to Moses that “sabbath is a sign forever between [God] and the Israelites” (Exodus 31:16-17).


Sabbath Today

OK. We know that the ancient Hebrews honored the sabbath, but life was different back then. They had to make all of their clothes and prepare all their meals from scratch, mostly from herd animals and wild vegetation, just to get by from day to day; they didn’t have our diversity of entertainment and educational opportunities. So is sabbath just an idea from a bygone era that has nothing to do with us today? No! Today it is as important as ever that we set aside time to rest in God’s presence. In our “on-demand” culture, we are always at someone’s beck and call. Or, we think we deserve someone’s attention the second we want it. But when’s the last time you sought out God’s attention or gave God the attention our heavenly Father deserves? Take some time today, and throughout this week, to consider what devoting some of your time to God might mean in your life.

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