What is Sabbath Keeping?

by | Nov 2, 2018 | Friday Messages

Brown Leaf Trees on Forest

Hello Dear Friends & welcome to another Friday Email.

When considering what to write for this edition, I was struck by the reminder of keeping this simple.
However, I’d like to examine a question we all may very well have taken for granted if we have grown up affiliated with The Kingdom Christian Ministries fellowship. The simple question is, “What is Sabbath Keeping?”

Growing up, I remember having conversations with other fellow followers of Jesus and finding myself
hard-pressed to describe what the essence of the Sabbath truly was. In high school I had in-depth conversations with a friend who decided she was going to try keeping the Sabbath. I was thrilled with her enthusiasm and eagerly told her all about how I’d been taught to keep it. My friend tried over the course of several weeks or months and then got back to me with something to the effect of, “Keeping the Sabbath was just too hard and too much work.”

She couldn’t stop her work. She couldn’t just sit around all day and rest. She couldn’t spend as much time with her family or reading her Bible or doing other spiritual things that I had described. In essence, she found herself unable to stop. I was befuddled, baffled, and bamboozled. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how keeping the Sabbath was so difficult. For me, it was as simple as breathing.

Now for some, this may simply serve as a funny anecdote. However, try to look at it from my friend’s
perspective. If you were trying to keep the Sabbath for the first time, how would you distinguish between the things you could do vs. the things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath? How would you describe Sabbath-keeping if you had not grown up enjoying this God-given treasure?

In considering the question of, “What is Sabbath-keeping?” I’d like to share four simple principles I came across from an author recently who I found had encapsulated nicely the essence of Biblical Sabbath keeping.
(Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero). They are:

1. Stop

2. Rest

3. Delight

4. Contemplate

I love how simple and yet how broad these concepts are. God has endowed each one of us with unique ways of practicing the above concepts. The author described the importance of Stopping for a full 24-hour period of time as a way of practicing our dependence on God for the provision of our needs. Many times I’ve been perplexed by the seemingly backwards notion of only working six days instead of seven to make money. Yet God in His establishment of rhythm in our lives knew better.

As for Rest, that is left up to the uniqueness of the individual. What I find restful may not be what the
fellow down the road finds restful. One of my siblings takes naps faithfully on Saturday afternoons because that is the time when they can, and the Sabbath is a fantastic time to rest!

When considering Delight the author states, “God delighted over His creation. The Hebrew phrase
communicates a sense of joy, completion, wonder, and play. This is particularly radical in a culture like ours, both secular and Christian, that is ‘delight deficient.’ Because the way pleasure and delight have been distorted by our culture, many of us Christians struggle with receiving joy and pleasure” (p. 168). Could that be said of you as a follower of Jesus?

I’ve learned to appreciate a concept my father taught me about Sabbath keeping which fits into the idea of delighting. My dad would always say something to the effect of, “If you’ve done something during the week, take a break from it on the Sabbath, and vice-versa.” So if I’ve been delighting in a really good book throughout the week, perhaps the Sabbath isn’t the best time to delight in the book, because I’ve been reading it all week and the Sabbath is special.

However, if I’ve not been doing something for the whole week, then perhaps the Sabbath, within the bounds of appropriateness, is the time to delight in that special activity (i.e. family walks as an example). The point being, paraphrasing Scripture to say, “The Sabbath was made for man to enjoy and delight in.”

Finally, we come to Contemplation. In all honesty, I can find myself overlooking this principle more often than I’d like to admit. In Bible School one of my mentors, Mr. Don Pass, would describe to me how much he loved delighting in his Sabbath devotions by spending more time than he was allowed throughout the week due to work obligations. That idea has stuck with me and as we “contemplate” (another word for reflect or remember) God, we find that His goodness and His character are worthy objects for our contemplation. In whatever way this concept may be unique to you, may God be the center of your contemplation during this Sabbath.

All right, so maybe this epistle was not quite as simple from the standpoint of length. However, my hope is it has been simple in its reminder of what Sabbath-keeping is about. So whether you have been raised with this God-given treasure called Sabbath-keeping or are simply dipping your toe into the water to determine what it’s all about, my hope is you will remember the concepts of stopping, resting, delighting, and contemplation.

May you be blessed and encouraged as you enjoy the gift of the Sabbath.

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