Summary: Sabbath reminds us that God's got this. And He's got us, too.
Good morning. Please open your Bibles to Exodus 16. We’re going to look at several scripture passages this morning, but the biggest chunk is going to come from Exodus 16, so you can go ahead and turn there.
For the past several weeks we’ve been talking about developing spiritual disciplines. Daily and weekly habits that work to help you develop more and more into the image of Christ (Romans 12:1-2). The first week we worked our way through John 15, and we talked about how Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches on that vine. God tends to our spiritual lives like a master gardener tends to his vineyards. Our job is to remain on the vine. We do that through disciplines such as regular scripture reading, prayer, commitment to a community, and accountability. We call those the Habits of Abiding.
But when you look at John 15, God’s Word says that every branch that produces fruit, God prunes, so it can produce more fruit. [show pruning shears]. So there are some habits we develop in our lives that allow God to prune and set limits and give boundaries. We call these Habits of Pruning, and we’re going to look at the first one this morning.
SABBATH. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you see the word Sabbath? Sunday? Day of rest? Go to church? Chick-fil-a is closed? All good things. As we get into this, let’s first get an understanding of what the Bible means when it uses the word. And let’s understand first that before it was a noun, to talk about THE Sabbath, it was a verb. The Hebrew word Shavvath means to rest. When you Shavvaht, you stop working. Now, it became the name for the day of rest when God made it one of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:8 says “Remember the Sabbath Day” (yom shavaath).
Coincidentally, or maybe not—maybe this was how the language evolved, the Hebrew word for “seventh” is similar to shavaath—its shevee-ee.
Now I say all this to remind us that Sabbath is both a noun and a verb
Yes, it’s a day that is set aside for us to honor the Lord. But it is also something we do. And I think one of our biggest problems as a society and one of our biggest sources of stress personally is that we don’t do it enough. Sabbath is missing from modern life.
Missing from modern life
Once upon a time, people believed that advances in technology would allow us to have more leisure time. In 1967, testimony was given before a subcommittee of the Senate on time management. The essence of it was that because of the advance in technology, within twenty years or so people would have to radically cut back on how many hours a week they worked, or how many weeks a year they worked, or else they would have to start retiring sooner. The great challenge, they said, was what people would do with all of their free time.”
That was fifty years ago…Here we are in 2021, and would you say you struggle with what to do with all of your free time? Is that what brought any of you to church this morning? Unfortunately we don’t have more free time, our lives haven’t slowed down since the 60’s, they’ve sped up, and we can’t seem to fit enough into our days. We have less time available because we are trying to do too much, and we wonder where all the time goes.
So we compensate by hurrying up, not slowing down. We tell people we are talking to to get to the point. When we come to two lanes at a traffic light, we pick the lane behind the Corvette instead of the Buick because we know they will gun it as soon as the light turns green. You listen to audiobooks at double speed so you can get through it faster.
There’s something almost blasphemous about the idea of totally resting, totally unplugging, making yourself totally unavailable for phone calls or email or anything work related for a time. It used to be that the status symbol was being part of the “leisure class.” But now, we’ve made being busy all the time a status symbol. Be honest: if you are at a party, or catching up with people that haven’t seen you in awhile, how many of you, when someone says “How are you?”, your first response is “Good… just really busy.”
Why do we do that? Are we trying to impress the other person? Are we trying to validate to ourselves that we are essential workers?
John Ortberg puts it this way in his book on spiritual disciplines:
Again and again, as we pursue spiritual life, we must do battle with hurry. For many of us, the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.