Come Away and Rest

The Sabbath rest was a creation command and gift and the Ten Commandments are the moral law for all humanity.

Every seven days Adam and Eve would stop their pleasant work of tending the garden and studying the animal and plant life, to spend the day in meditation on the works and the word of Almighty God. Perhaps, especially on this day, they would commune with their Creator as he walked with them in the garden (Gen. 3:8). This gift (as the other two) has been seriously damaged by our sin, but they remain as gifts to all humanity, not just to the Jews or Christian believers.

 

If you could make one change in your weekly routine that would have a significant effect on your own life, that of your close friends or family, and your church, would you do it? Perhaps you think immediately of healthy living, a change in diet, a regular trip to the gym or starting a fitness programme. The New Testament does tell us that bodily exercise is of some benefit, so these should not be neglected, but they will not have the greatest effect on our lives and on those around us. It is godliness that will make the most impact (1 Tim. 4:8). But what does that look like? Part of it consists in taking one whole day a week as a time for rest and worship. Of course, this is not a new idea; it is as old as creation. But it seems to have slipped from the collective consciousness of the people of God in our generation. Is it time to think again?

The Sabbath Rest

There was a Sabbath rest in the Garden of Eden. The loving Creator God gave Adam and Eve three precious gifts as part of his perfect creation: we are familiar with marriage and work, but the first of his gifts was a Sabbath rest (Gen. 2:2-3). Every seven days Adam and Eve would stop their pleasant work of tending the garden and studying the animal and plant life, to spend the day in meditation on the works and the word of Almighty God. Perhaps, especially on this day, they would commune with their Creator as he walked with them in the garden (Gen. 3:8). This gift (as the other two) has been seriously damaged by our sin, but they remain as gifts to all humanity, not just to the Jews or Christian believers.

A Sabbath rest is included in the moral law. When the Lord God spoke at Sinai, he included the fourth commandment to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, resting from work and remembering creation and redemption (Ex. 20:11Deut. 5:15).

Part of the confusion concerning the Sabbath day arises from the tendency for many modern study Bibles to suggest that the Sabbath commandment has been ‘set aside’ in the New Testament (John MacArthur Study Bible note on Isaiah 58:13) and is ‘no longer binding on new covenant believers’ (ESV Study Bible note on Romans 14:5). As a result, we are told that ‘it is still wise to take regular times of rest from work, and regular times of worship are commanded for Christians’ (ESV Study Bible), but the implication is that the fourth commandment no longer applies. Yet this approach fails to acknowledge that the Sabbath rest was a creation command and gift, and that the Ten Commandments are the moral law for all humanity. They were written in stone and placed in the Ark of the Covenant, not included in the ceremonial law which was written in a book and has found its fulfilment in Christ. We ignore any of God’s commandments at our peril. He knows what is best for his children.

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