Summary: The Sabbath reminds us of our need for rest. God gave the Sabbath to Israel and through Jesus God gives us a Sabbath rest as well.
Richard Swenson wrote a book in the 1990’s entitled, “Margin” in which he describes modern society as so overcommitted and over scheduled that we have no space left for rest. A reviewer writes: Overload is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is a disease of our day. Margin is the cure.
He says that as a society, we’ve forgotten what margin is. In the push for progress, margin has been devoured. So we feel distressed in ill-defined ways. We are besieged by anxiety, stress, and fatigue. Our relationships suffer. We have unexplained aches and pains. The flood of daily events seems beyond our control. We’re overloaded.
Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. It’s something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.
As a medical practitioner, Dr. Swenson sees a steady stream of exhausted, hurting people coming into his office. He says that a majority of them are suffering from an uncontrolled societal epidemic: living without margin. Again, his thesis: Overload is a disease of our day. Margin is the cure. (Taken from Amazon review)
Actually, the Bible shows us that margin is not the cure. Margin is simply a byproduct of living in sync with our Savior’s schedule according to the scriptures. To find margin we need a Messiah who gives us instruction for both labor and rest. Jesus is that Messiah and Jesus is the true cure to the disease of overload, and we might add, Jesus is the cure to laziness too.
So… What causes a portion of our society to live in the rat race of rush until there is no room for rest? On the other hand, what causes others to be undisciplined unproductive and lazy? Why is there an unhealthy imbalance between working too much or not working enough. We’ve been talking (over the last two weeks) about rest, but by resting I’m not talking about the laziness and sloth of those that will not work, which is another problem of society. The Thessalonians had some with this problem (See 2 Thess. 3:6-15). Both irresponsible sloth and overcommitted workaholizm are problems of sin. Both have their roots in selfishness and unbelief, both are destructive because both are disobedient to God. When we are not faithfully surrendered to the will and word of God we find ourselves lost in the darkness of extremes. God’s grace rescues us and delivers us from the destructive addiction and slavery to pride, selfishness and sin.
Jesus gives life. His word instructs us in life that is truly life. Jesus calls it abundant life, or life to the full, John 10:10. Paul calls it life that is life indeed, 1 Tim. 6:19. All of God’s word in the New Testament describes the new life in Christ as led by God himself, see Romans 8 for example. This life is where we find the Spirit’s fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, see Galatians 5:22-25. And, according to God’s word, this life is where we find rest… rest for our souls, see Matthew 11:28-29 and Hebrews chapters 3-4.
Today’s lesson will be the last in our series on God’s Sabbath rest for his people. I hope you will stay with me here. There is a blessing for all who enter God’s rest, and hopefully we have seen some of what that means.
The first two lessons we looked at the Old Testament teaching on God’s rest and the Sabbath. Genesis 2 tells us that God rested from all the work of creating on the seventh day. God worked six days and rested on the seventh. He blessed that day… he blessed his day of rest, and made it holy. The word holy means set apart, something uniquely assigned for God’s use and purposes. So the first thing we find that the Bible calls holy is not the creation (He called that good) but the first thing God calls holy is a day of the week, specifically, the day of his rest.
As far as we know, God never commanded anyone to keep this day until Exodus 16. After delivering the children of Israel from slavery God set up Saturday as their weekly day of Sabbath or rest. Remember that Sabbath does not mean seventh, Sabbath means rest. This became one of the signs of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel. Let me quickly mention three of these signs of the covenant which were given specifically to Israel by God. They are circumcision, dietary laws, and Sabbath keeping: these three were all key signs of the covenant for Israel. We don’t have time to go into all of those today, but, interestingly enough, all three of these signs of the covenant for Israel were NOT requirements under the new covenant in Christ which extended to all nations in the world. Circumcision, dietary laws and Sabbath keeping were all discontinued as signs of the covenant in Christ.