What God carved at Sinai was a recipe for real freedom. I know it sounds paradoxical to say that we get freedom by obeying God’s commandments, but that’s actually the way things go. Sin traps people and make them wilt; Godly obedience liberates people and helps them flourish. The Ten Commandments are guides for a free and flourishing life. They say, ‘Do this and you will thrive.’ Or else they say, ‘Don’t do this: it’ll kill you.’ God’s commandments are all pro-life. (Cornelius Plantinga Jr.)
God always has a purpose for everything He commanded us to do (or not do). A lot of people see God’s commandments as burdensome, and I can’t hardly blame them. When reading through the books of Moses there seems to be an endless number of commands. But, when viewed from the right perspective, we can see God’s true purpose in the laws.
The Sabbath for instance. God’s people were commanded to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. To our American minds it might seem unnatural, I know it did for me when I first started keeping the Sabbath. “What? You really have to stop for a whole day? But I have so much to do! I have to rest?” The culture we live in is one that is constantly go go go. No one sees the benefit of stopping and taking a day to rest, and recenter on God.
Yet God said to keep the Sabbath and call it a delight. He had His reasons. God knew that we humans would have a tendency to just keep going and going until we ran ourselves into the ground. He knew that the only way to get many of us to rest was to command it. He did it for our own good. He did it because He knows us and knows what we need. God knew that some of us wouldn’t stop unless He commanded us to stop. He gave it to us because of His great love.
He gave us the Sabbath for our own good. He gave it to give us life. All of God’s commandments are life giving. The Sabbath is just one way that God shows His lovingkindness to us. He is all loving, and He always knows what’s best for us even beyond what we think we know.
God loves us, and Jesus came to give us abundant life. Keeping a day holy to Him, and resting is just one way to enter into the abundant life that Christ offers each one.