Keeping the sabbath holy is an act of obedience, and obedience leads to life. God wants to be the center of our world and setting aside this one day for him is not too much to ask. Is it? You can read in Exodus 31:12-17 where God gave Moses instructions about the Sabbath.
As I was reflecting on today’s reading in Jeremiah, it struck me that the idea of honoring the Sabbath would be so foreign to God’s disobedient children. It doesn’t seem very likely many were keeping the Sabbath at all. Yet, this is God’s message, and it speaks as a reminder of his hopes for his people.
Interesting that God uses two “if/then” statements to make his point. The first one gives hope if the people listen and honor the Sabbath. Jerusalem will be restored! The second spells out the curse that will happen if the people continue to ignore the Sabbath and do what they want on that day.
Would the people finally listen to Jeremiah’s message? Scholars suggest this passage may be pointing to the future of Jerusalem after its fall and the exile to follow. Perhaps this sermon is meant to give hope to the people that someday Jerusalem can be restored to its glory. The key will, of course, be keeping the Sabbath holy.
What do these verses say to us today? Do you set aside a special day for spending time with God and avoiding work or other distractions? We can come up with all sorts of excuses. We’ve got busy lives after all. How are we supposed to fit everything in to six days? This has been a struggle for me over the years. I have always admired the people who truly respect God’s command to keep the Sabbath holy.
As with any new habit, it’s probably best not to set unrealistic expectations. While it should be our goal to give God at least one day, like he has asked, maybe we can start with a couple hours. What do you do on Sundays after church? Do you rush home and get busy in the yard, go shopping to run errands for the week, or do you curl up with the Bible and continue your reflection?
It’s good for us to be aware of what God wants from us. We have something we can work toward. I can tell you from my own experience that keeping the Sabbath holy has been rewarding for me. Not only do I feel like I am doing something that pleases God, but, in turn, I find more pockets of time during the other six days to be productive.
Take time today to think through your next Sabbath rest. Remember, this is one of God’s top 10 things for us to do to honor him and our relationship with him.
Let’s pray … Lord, forgive me for letting distractions keep me so busy. I long to spend quiet rest with you like you intended. You know what’s best for me. Help me to guard the time each week and simply rest in your presence. Thank you for your grace and love despite my failings. In Jesus’ name. Amen.