Sabbathing. Episode 13. Exodus 20:1-17; Colossians 2:13-17.
This final podcast of Season One is all about "keeping Sabbath" as Christians in America today. What does that look like? What does the Bible say about the sabbath? Nicole and Sharon discuss Old Testament and New Testament passages that talk about God's command to rest one day out of seven. They walk away from legalism, but not from God's intent that people ought to take a break and rest. Join us for a lively discussion about a confusing topic. We hope it's helpful and enjoyable as we take our own "sabbath" from recording podcasts this summer. We'll be back in September with lots more to say. Want to contribute to the topics? Comment below on what you would like to hear discussed. Thanks for listening!
Speaker 1 (00:01):
Well. Hello, tired one. Are you feeling a bit frazzled and worn out? Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments podcast. We hope lessons from God’s word and encouragement from us will lead you to soul rest. Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by word radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome back to the Sweet Selah Moments, podcast, friends. This is episode 13, and we are going to be talking about Sabbathing. It’s actually a made up word that Sharon and I created to describe what she does each weekend. I asked for this particular topic because I am intrigued by the idea of taking a Sabbath in our modern world. And as a mother of four young children, I’m also confused as to how it might actually work. I mean, I still need to feed the girls, dress them for church, answer their questions and settle arguments, right? Just how does one do Sabbath when one has littles?
That is such a good question, Nicole, and I hope today’s podcast will answer it for you and for many others listening at various stages and seasons of life. I love that we’re calling this podcast Sabbathing, because that made up word keeps the concept a bit less formal and more approachable.
We’re going to look at what the Bible says about Sabbath in both the Old and the New Testaments, and then figure out what it is and what it isn’t. You see I feel like many people take it to one extreme or the other. Sabbath either becomes a super legalistic thing where you have to follow rules carefully. And if you do it wrong, you’re just evil. And on the other side it’s totally ignored. And I think the truth lies somewhere in that middle ground between. So what do you think the word means when you think Sabbath, Nicole? What kind of images does it pull up in your mind?
Well, I think as a kid, I always thought it was something you only did if you were Jewish,
There you go.
But now it’s kind of one of those commandments that I never really knew how to honor. I guess I always just assumed that by going to church on Sunday, we were somehow honoring it.
Yes. And I think that’s pretty standard today and it’s a good start, right?
The Sabbath is the day that’s supposed to be kept Holy, but it’s also a day of rest. I didn’t know a lot about it either until I started studying it myself. So, we’re going to take a look at it today. I have found for myself that stopping for a 24 hour period actually gives me more energy for the other six days. Go figure. Like maybe God knew what he was saying. That complete rest stop helps so much. It’s not complete. I mean, I still make meals. I still do stuff, but it’s a different day from the other six. And the other thing I’ve found is that every week stopping is an act of trust. It’s trusting that the world will spin without me managing it, trusting that all the chores and stuff that’s still aren’t done can actually stay undone for another 24 hours. And so it’s an exercise in trust; that if I set aside a Sabbathing day, that God will honor that and give me back my time in other ways.
And I really do believe he does, especially in energy. I feel like he wired the human body to work hard and enjoy work for six days. And then rest on the seventh. It’s sort of like programmed into us. So that’s what I’m going to try to share. But as you’re listening, please don’t think that I have some kind of rigid formula that if you don’t follow it, you’re evil because I don’t. These are just my ideas. And as we look at the Old Testament and the New Testament, we’re going to see that it’s redefined in the New Testament in some really sweet ways that keep Sabbath from being awful and actually bring it back to what God initially intended for it. So, okay, well, let’s look at where it was first established to begin with. And that would be, Oh, way back in the beginning.
In Genesis chapter two. So Nicole, you want to read Genesis two, one through two for us?
Sure. Genesis two, one through two. So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day, God had finished his work of creation so he rested from all his work. Huh.
I know, don’t you find that little odd? God rested. That puzzled me so much for so long. Cause I’m like, you feel like if you’re resting, that must mean you’re tired, but God’s omnipotent. So how is he tired? And yet he worked hard of course, creating for six days. What do you think this tells us Nicole about rest and about God?
Well, it must be important for God to mention it right off the bat. I mean, he’s like, Oh, so I made the world, a few billion trillion stars, and flowers, a couple humans. Oh. And I rested. It’s like, wow, how does that fit in the line up?
Isn’t that wild? It’s right there. It’s not even in the 10 commandments to begin with, it predates them. In fact, it’s like the first rule established in a sense. He worked for six days and then he rested. And I think part of it is just modeling for us the rhythm that he wants us to have. And part of it is telling us that resting is good. It’s not laziness. You know what? Americans are nuts. I feel like…
We are. I feel like if we think we’re unproductive for more than, you know, half an hour, we flagellate ourselves with guilt that we haven’t been productive. And yet here is God at the very beginning of time saying, you know what, one day out of seven, just kick back and don’t work. What??? I love it.
And I love that it was established so early in time. So cool.
Now he gives us permission from the very beginning. It’s okay to rest because I did it. It’s okay to be still for a while.
Yes, exactly. And we do our Sweet Selah days once a month, but God, one ups that. He says every week take a day that’s different. So well in Exodus, we bump into the Sabbath codified in the 10 commandments. And that actually Nicole is where I started from. I was just reading the 10 commandments one day, which I don’t do on a regular basis, but I was reading them and it struck me that no one says, well, it’s New Testament days so we can commit adultery now. Right? Or, Oh, we can lie now. Every single one of those commandments, we still think apply.
God still doesn’t want any name above his name. God still wants his name honored. God still doesn’t want us to worship idols. He’s still not wanting us to covet. Those haven’t changed. And I thought, well, wait a second. How come, how come we just sort of ignore commandment number four? Why is Sabbath some kind of exception, at least in the way we’re living it out in modern day America. And that’s what got me started on my study of Sabbath. And I really did study it because I wanted to do what was right. And I couldn’t figure out why that was sort of left alone. So let’s start by reading the 10 commandments, which, you know, you might not have read for a while and our readers might not have read for a while. And if I hadn’t been prepping for this podcast, I wouldn’t have read for a while.
So our Sweet Selah Moment today is to listen to the 10 commandments. Let’s hear again what God says and how he says it as he gives us 10 basic commands for living and Nicole, I’ll start with verse one and then you can read verse two and we’ll go back and forth. And hopefully you guys will know when the verses changed by our voice changes. So.
Here we go. Exodus 20 verse one. Then God gave the people, all these instructions.
I am the Lord your God who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
You must not have any other God, but me.
You must not make for yourselves an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea.
You must not bow down to them or worship them for I the Lord, your God am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children. The entire family is affected even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.
But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it Holy.
You have six days each week for your ordinary work.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest, dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day, no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you.
For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea and everything in them. But on the seventh day, he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as Holy.
Honor your father and mother then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord, your God is giving you.
You must not murder.
You must not commit adultery.
You must not steal.
You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. There they are. Those are our 10 commandments and out of 17 verses Nicole, the Sabbath command gets four verses. That’s almost one fourth of all the airtime, you know?
Wowzers. So I feel like we can’t just ignore it. We need to look at it and deal with it. And something else that fascinates me is right after Moses gives these 10 commandments they end up in the wilderness and they end up there for 40 years. They get manna from heaven, six days a week only. And if they don’t pick double on the sixth day, they’ll have nothing to eat on the seventh because God let it rain manna except on Sabbath. So for the first 40 years of living out the 10 commandments, they kind of were forced not to work on the Sabbath, at least as far as picking up manna and getting it all ready because there was none.
So he really wanted that habit, I think, established right from the start.
Wow. I never noticed how much the Sabbath was mentioned before and all the commandments. I think I skimmed those parts because I never thought, I thought it was more specific for the Jews.
Yeah. And I think that’s a natural thing to think because so many of the old Testament commandments are not applicable to today. We do not burn down our houses if they’ve had mold in it for more than seven days. That’s a bizarre little Levitical command.
It is. Right.
So, so I think, I think that is part of the reason why people have kind of put Sabbath aside, it sort of gets lumped with some of the Levitical commands that in the New Testament God made some changes on.
But this is one of the big 10.
So I’m just not so sure that we could completely ignore it.
Right. It made it to the 10 commandments so it’s not just the mold thing that, you know, happened before bleach.
Exactly. Or don’t eat pigs before you could have hot enough temperatures that you could make sure pork was safe to eat. A lot of those early commands were protection for that season when the situation required it. So, yeah. Yeah. But then we get to the New Testament and Jesus does not eliminate Sabbath. In fact, he’s at the synagogue on Sabbath and he keeps the Sabbath, but he is really on fire to make sure people don’t make the Sabbath, this huge, heavy yoke that crushes them. It had sort of gone from, hey, this is your day, man. Rest, don’t work. To, don’t do that. Don’t do that. Ooh, don’t do that. You know, to the point where you’re almost jumpy with fear that you’re going to do something wrong on the Sabbath.
And so that’s the legalistic part of Sabbath legalism. There’s a wonderful quote I found as I was studying for this podcast from Dr. Charles Ryrie in his Balancing the Christian Life book, and he defines legalism as this: “a fleshly attitude, which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self.”
Oh, that’s a good definition.
I love that. The purpose is to exalt ourselves by how well we can follow the code, you know, because then where does grace come in? It doesn’t. So fascinating I think. So, Nicole, I don’t know that we all walk around, puffed up because we’re keeping the Sabbath days. I feel like this is not our problem, but can you think of other areas where Christians or you or I can, legalistically do something in a way that really is just honoring a code so we look good.
Oh gosh. I think we face that temptation in all areas of Christianity. I think, well, walking by faith can be scary sometimes. And it’s a comfort for me sometimes and gives us a sense of control to make up those extra rules, to obey in order to appear to be a good Christian, you know?
I think we feel we have a part in our salvation maybe if we do something like follow the rules, show proof of our faith, when in reality we are hopeless without Jesus and his sacrifice.
Exactly. It’s when we’re trying to look good, instead of be good, you know, this is such a silly thing. It’s an embarrassing confession, but I will tell you. When I was maybe seven years old, my mom said, Oh, the pastor’s coming over this afternoon, children. I want you on your best behavior. So I decided that when he came, I should have my sister and brothers sitting on either side of me and I should be reading the Bible to them.
What! I mean, it was the middle of the afternoon. Did we ever sit down primly and properly and read the Bible together on a random afternoon? No, I just did it.
We do that, don’t we though?
I looked back at that and I’m like, Oh, that is so bad!
Trying to be good I was bad.
And then another example I thought of is the modesty issue. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re supposed to be modest. I know we’re supposed to be modest, but I do remember back in my homeschool days when I got a little uppity about modesty and you know, my girls and I had to be like in turtlenecks and jumpers down to our thigh, not thighs, that’d be funny. My shins, and I measured for a short while, thankfully that was a short period in my life. But I measured modesty by some rules that the home school community had at the moment about, you know, good home school moms dressed in jumpers. What is that?
So, and that’s an example. I’m going to read the quote one more time. It’s a fleshly attitude, which conforms to a code for the purpose of exalting self. There! If I am super modest and my children are then somehow I’m better. No, no, no. That is so not the right attitude or the right way to do things. And that’s, that’s what Jesus got frustrated with when he watched how some of the Jewish population were keeping Sabbath. So we’re going to turn to the New Testament now, and we’re going to read two passages back to back. And I’d like, if you don’t mind for you to read them in your beautiful Nicole voice. One from Mark and one from Luke and you’ve got them. So why don’t you announce them and read them? And then let’s talk about them.
Okay. Mark two, 23 through 28. One Sabbath, Jesus was going through the grain fields and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath? He answered. Have you ever read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions. Then he said to them, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the son of man is Lord, even of the Sabbath. And then Luke six, six through 11. On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely.
If he healed the man’s hands, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with a deformed hand, come and stand in front of everyone. So the man came forward. Then Jesus said to his critics, I have a question for you. Does this law permit good deeds on the Sabbath? Or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it? He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, hold out your hand. So the man held out his hand and it was restored. At this the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him. I love that ‘wild with rage’, man, because he healed a withered hand. Wow.
That’s so sad.
Isn’t it? So what do you see here in these verses Nicole, that teaches you more of the fullness of that Sabbath picture that Jesus is trying to teach us?
It’s not something we need to be good at to follow the rules. Like he was showing them, like, don’t be so stuck on the rules that you miss, the hurting people in front of you, the hungry people next to you. I don’t think we can do it wrong per se, if our hearts are in the right place. And if we’re enjoying that rest, that God has given us and honoring him through it, then I think that is what he wants from a Sabbath rest for us. So no specific rules on what we can eat or not eat, or how much work to do or not to do. And I love that he says that Sabbath was made for man. What a gift that is.
Yes. And we get it backwards. If we’re kowtowing to Sabbath rules, we’re sort of in bondage to them.
But if Sabbath was made for me, because God said, Sharon, honey, you don’t have to work every day. Really. You can sit and take a nap on Sunday afternoons and read your book and munch an apple, and you don’t have to feel guilty about. I made the Sabbath for you. That just completely changes it from an obligation to a gift, you know? Oh my goodness. I love the gift of Sabbath. Really, I mean, we’re recording this on a Saturday and in just a few short hours, baby, I am off duty. I am resting.
Oh, that’s great.
So I get psyched about it. I get really excited thinking about it.
It’s just such a fun thing. But the other thing I love about the healing part particularly is because, I think if a doctor or a nurse or an EMT or a police man, or any one of the professionals that we sure are glad work on Sundays, reads this I think they can be reassured that healing is allowed on a Sunday. If your little girl falls down and cuts her knee, you don’t say to her, it’s Sunday.
Right? I’ll get you a band-aid tomorrow.
That’s right. Just let the dirt sit there for a day because its Sunday. Right? We don’t do that!
And I’m super glad hospitals stay open on Sundays. You know, I really am. I’m so thankful for every medical professional and all the professionals that work on Sundays to keep us safe. And I’m saying Sunday, cause that’s sort of the Christian Sabbath. But I think the key here is out of seven days, you ought to rest for one. My brother’s a pastor. You can imagine how unrestful a Sunday is for him. So, so he takes a day to have Sabbath. Pastor Ray’s Sabbath day. And he has a youth pastor and the youth pastor’s on duty on Pastor Ray’s Sabbath day. And Pastor Ray is on duty on the youth pastor’s Sabbath day. So there’s always a pastor available to serve and help their church, but he takes a day off and it’s not Sunday, but one day in seven, he is letting his body rest.
That’s so good.
Oh it is. And he is such a wonderful pastor. I love his sermons and I love his energy. And I really believe that he has discovered as I have discovered that that day of differentness resets you so that you have more energy, you have more VIM to do the other six than if you just kind of treadmill endlessly without stopping. You know, it’s almost like the Creator of the universe knew what he was saying about rest.
Yeah. So, so, okay. So we’ve basically said if your child is hurting, you help them on a Sunday. If you’re a professional that has to work on Sundays, you find another day, but you can work on Sunday. So we’re trying to de-legalize this. “Delegalistical-ize” this but without robbing us of the joy of the rest one day out of seven. So, but there’s one more passage I want to read that adds to the Sabbath talk before we get into specifics and we will get into specifics.
So it’s Colossians two 13 to 17. Paul is talking and he says this when you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us. He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross and having disarmed the powers and authorities. He made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come. The reality, however, is found in Christ.
That’s so good.
Yeah. So here we go. Do not let anyone judge you by a Sabbath day. Now I still believe that we are to keep it in some way, shape or form, but I don’t get to judge you if you decide to keep it differently. We’re not to do that because then we’re back to legalism. We’re back to rule following, instead of saying, seriously, God, you gave me the gift of stopping. Thank you. So as I share. Which I’m going to do now, or soon, how I was led to keep a Sabbath, don’t think you have to copy me. Furthermore, if you have young children, you can’t.
Nobody. I mean, I get to just do nothing for long periods of time because I’m 62, you know, but if I had four little children clamoring, I have a feeling Sabbath would look a lot different.
Yeah, so here’s what I did when I finally said, you know what? I am not going to work seven days anymore. God says I don’t have to. And I am tired of working seven days in a row. So my kids were in high school. They were older, which is why it’s going to look different for everybody. But they were in high school and I started by announcing it, letting the family know that I’m just, I’m going off duty on Sundays. Initially I started just doing Sundays off. And I would tell them all, you know, if you need me to do things, let me know early in the weekend so I can get them done before my day of rest. So I kind of prepared them. But what I found was Nicole, because they were in school, including my husband, who’s a teacher, Sunday nights were awful.
They always needed me. And then I’d be mad because I didn’t get my full day, which I don’t feel was where God wanted me to go with the Sabbath. Anger. So then I remembered that Jewish people started at sundown. So I thought, Oh, okay, I can do this. I can stop at sundown on Saturday night after dinner, you know, get that done and then pick it up again at sundown Sunday night. And then I’ve got my 24 hours, but I can help everybody Sunday night where they need help. And that for me has worked so well. I plan an easy supper for Saturday night and we clean up the dishes and then I’m done. And then the dishes sit for breakfast and lunch, which I do prepare. Although we go out to eat a lot for lunch because I prepare such simple things Ray would prefer to go out to eat on a Sunday. Often.
Sometimes I used paper plates and I did not do laundry. I did not do vacuuming. I did not do the ordinary work. That’s what that command said. Don’t do your ordinary work. So I kind of look at Sabbath as what can I not do. I still have to feed my dog, take my dog out for a walk. There are things that one just has to do, but what can I not do? And I still to this day, you know, get ready for Sabbath, try to get Sunday clothing ready before sundown. So including finding shoes, which is always a problem for some reason. And then Sunday mornings go easier. And church is a wonderful part of it. It’s a Holy Holy time. And then I stop. So that’s the way mine looks. How about you? You’ve been pondering this cause you knew we were going to be doing this podcast. What could a young mother of four children under the age of what?
Under the age of nine? How in the world could you keep a Sabbath?
Well, first off I was going to say that I think going into it with young children, we can’t expect it to be this blissful day of total physical rest, where all the kiddos take care of themselves and don’t fight. If we think that we’re setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment.
But that doesn’t mean we have to throw out the whole idea because we can’t do it as we might want to do it. So just a good reminder for me is that God meets us where we’re at. He sees where I am and he gives me so much grace. So I have to give myself some grace as we kind of venture into new territory.
I think that’s so wise and God will show you. Maybe you don’t do laundry. Maybe you do paper plates. My father and mother took us for a walk every Sunday. And that was our special, sweet family time together. There’s all kinds of things you can do, but God will show you. And I think that’s what I want to say to our listeners in closing is God will show you if you go to him and say, Lord, I’d like to do something differently on one day out of the week. Can you show me how? And we won’t judge you because Colossians tells us not to.
But I think you’ll find it sweet. And speaking of Sabbaths, we are going on one with our podcast. Sweet Selah Ministries as a whole just rests for the month of July. We take it off. We all work hard for 11 months. We have a wonderful staff between board and team. We have 21 people that work on Sweet Selah Ministries, and we all stop for July. So we’re going to come back with podcasts again in September because Nicole and I are not even going to record podcasts in July. We’re going to rest. So we will see you back in September. Thank you for listening. And I’m going to pray. And then Nicole, you can close us off. So Lord, I thank you. Thank you that you want us to rest. You don’t think it’s a waste of time to rest. You think it’s necessary and restorative. Father show each of us, how to keep Sabbath in a way that honors you and honors what your word says and protect us from that legalism that could wreck it. In Jesus name. Amen.
Amen. We hope these ideas have got you thinking friend about what Sabbathing might look like in your own life.
Please do not let this become a legalistic chore. Just go to the Lord and ask him what you should perhaps not do one day a week in order to keep the day more restful. Or if God is not leading you to make any change, we will abide by Colossians two and not judge you even a teensy bit. These are just suggestions. So our first season of podcasts is done. We will be back in September with a whole new season and Hey, we’d like some help from you. Have you enjoyed listening? Let us know. Is there a topic you wish we would discuss? Please tell us as we plot our next season, we’d love to know where you struggle, where you’d like to study the word more and what would help you grow in Christ? We are eager to hear from you. So please go to our website, SweetSelah.org/podcast, and chat with us in the comments. We’ll read through your suggestions and start in August because we rest in July to prepare a whole new season for you. Until then enjoy your summer. And thanks for listening. Please subscribe to us and follow us that you will know when we return in season two, we love sharing with you and can’t wait to dig in again in September. God bless you.
Speaker 1 (31:46):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. Sweet Selah Moments is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast, including show notes, can be firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Thank you for joining us.
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