Exodus 20:9-10a & 11b
“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. … Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
It strikes me that we’re four commandments into Exodus 20 and God has effectively been giving us a refresher course on Genesis 1. Genesis opens with the words, “In the beginning, God,” which is rule number one in a nutshell: God is. Then, the very next words are “…created the heavens and the earth,” which is rule number two in a nutshell: worship the Lord as Creator and not created things. Then, in Genesis 1:27, Moses writes: “So God created man in his own image,” which is rule number three in a nutshell: You bear God’s Name—don’t take that vainly. Now, fast forward to the beginning of Genesis 2 where God rests from His six-day toil and blesses the seventh day as a Sabbath rest, which is rule number four in a nutshell: work with godlike vigor for six days; then rest with godlike satisfaction on the weekend. So Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 are both mirrors, revealing the same resplendent Face.
Friend, how do you apply this principle of Sabbath rest week by week? I personally struggle with knowing how to practice it. Some days I choose not to mow my lawn as a means of resting. Others I don’t run or exercise or ‘work out.’ I also don’t write devotionals on the weekend, even when coming up on busy weeks where I could really afford to get ahead. But these particulars aren’t the essence of this rule here—I know that. And if I’m not careful, I’ll become a Pharisee who particularizes words like ‘work’ and ‘toil’ into hundreds of further regulations, never progressing one inch into the mystery of our Lord’s declaration in Mark 2:27 that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Maybe we should read the words “God blessed the Sabbath” as an invitation to a celebration rather than to a somber affair. For God, the Sabbath rest was a day of appreciation, a day of satisfaction in work completed, a day of rejoicing in the goodness of what was accomplished; and I pray we’ll share His enthusiasm in our own Sabbath rest, starting tomorrow!