This post is by Briane Kearns.
Many concepts in Scripture hold deep theological meaning that can bless and encourage us and strengthen our walk with the Lord. Shabbat is one of those for me.
Our English word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew term Shabbat. We generally think of Sabbath as a day of the week. But the Hebrew word is derived from a verb meaning to cease, to repose, to desist from exertion, to leave, to put away or down.
Shabbat first appears in the Creation story: “on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.” (Gen 2:2-3) The English word “rested” is the Hebrew word shabbat. God the Creator shabbat from His work of creation on the 7th day. From the beginning the practice of Shabbat has been an integral part of God’s story with us.
Over time the word is also used as a noun, The Shabbat. We see it in the Ten Commandments. In fact, the commandment beginning with “Remember the Shabbat and keep it holy” is the longest of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20:8-11)
What a gift these words must have been to the Israelites. They had been slaves, working nonstop every day under Pharaoh. Now, the Lord says Shabbat to Him: “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.”(Ex 20:9-11) Even their livestock is to Shabbat! God is not a taskmaster or slave driver, but a loving God who provides rest from work.
The end of the commandment reminds the Israelites, and us, that they are participating in the same Shabbat as the Lord at creation: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested (shabbat) on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex 20:11)
Jesus taught that “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Shabbat was made for you and me! We are not to “serve” Shabbat in a legalistic way. Shabbat is meant to “serve” us.
What does Shabbat mean for us today? My friend, I do not know about you, but my life is heavy with responsibilities, and I am tired. Shabbat is God’s gift for that.
Shabbat has brought three unexpected blessings in my life. The first is a physical, mental and psychological break from the daily activities of my life. God says I am to lay them all down one day a week and let them sit unattended.
This leads to the second blessing of Shabbat. I used to have a hard time practicing Shabbat because I believed that THERE WAS SO MUCH TO DO. Taking a “day off” meant getting a day behind.
But, when I began to consistently practice Shabbat as an act of loving obedience to God, He showed up in the practical areas of my life. I found that the rest of the week He multiplied my time, resources and accomplishments so that I was not behind. Instead, I was rested, more secure in Him, and ready to face the week ahead.
Today I practice Shabbat as an act of faith and trust that when I take a day and make it holy to the Lord, He Himself will provide the resources I need when Shabbat ends.
The trust and obedience has led to the third blessing of Shabbat for me: worship. I have seen how God has responded in love to my obedience and my desire to “honor the Sabbath and keep it holy.” As I experienced God’s provisions for me, they brought me to deep worship and awe of the Lord. He cares so much for me that He provides what I need. I am undone by His great, personal care and love for me. There is no other response I can have than to fully, wholly worship Him.
As you look forward to your week, I pray that you will end with Shabbat, and experience the blessings and gifts it brings.
Briane Pittman Kearns is a Jesus loving first born who celebrates being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and two time breast cancer survivor. After decades in the corporate world, raising a family and teaching Bible studies, the Lord called to her attend seminary at age 52. She graduated from Gordon Conwell Theological seminary with a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies. She is passionate about teaching the Bible in its historic, cultural and linguistic context to make God’s Word come alive. She lives in Central North Carolina where she writes and teaches Bible studies, speaks to women’s events and avoids cooking as much as possible. She loves her family, laughing with friends, encouraging women in their faith walk and being a southerner.
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