3 lies that keep us from enjoying Sabbath rest

On the sixth day, [the Israelites] gathered twice as much [manna]—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest.’” (Exodus 16:22-23)

This is the first time Sabbath rest is offered to human beings in the Bible. Contrary to the Israelites’ ruthless Egyptian masters who offered them no rest for 400 years, their perfect Heavenly Master offered them the gift of rest once every seven days. And he promised to provide the manna they needed for two days so that they could rest without worry!

The announcement of this gift undoubtedly led to great jubilation. And yet, Exodus 16:27 tells us that “some of the people went out on the seventh day,” to work. In her terrific study on Exodus, Jen Wilkin explains why, saying that while God had gotten his people out of slavery, he had yet to get the slavery out of his people who fell back into non-stop work due to four centuries' worth of habit.

That’s likely what kept the Israelites from resting. But this morning, I want you to consider what might be keeping you from Sabbath rest. Chances are, it’s one of these three lies.

Lie #1: Sabbath is irrelevant under the New Covenant. It is true that Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments not repeated in the New Testament. “But even so,” says John Mark Comer, “the Sabbath still stands as wisdom. There isn’t a command in the New Testament to eat food or drink water or sleep eight hours a night. That’s just wisdom…You can skip the Sabbath — it’s not sin.” But it’s also not wise.

Lie #2: More work equals more productivity. Not necessarily. When the Israelites went to gather manna on the Sabbath, Exodus 16:27 says “they found none.” Similarly, Dr. John Pencavel of Stanford has found that our productive “output falls sharply after a 50-hour work-week, and falls off a cliff after 55 hours.” It’s almost as if God has designed us for a full day of rest once a week…

Lie #3: I’m not a slave. Tim Keller says, “Anyone who cannot obey God’s command to observe the Sabbath is a slave, even a self-imposed one.” Do you feel that you have to check email every day? If your phone buzzes, do you pick it up without even thinking? You’re more of a slave than you think. 

Sabbath is one way to declare that, through Christ, you are free from the pressures of this world. And it’s also a gift that God invites you to enjoy (see Mark 2:27). Accept that gift this and every week!


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