- Renée Coventry
A Holy Rest, Pt. 24
The Ten Commandments, including the command to remember the Sabbath, are provided for us in Exodus 20. Exodus 35 reiterates this particular command. Why? What is God trying to tell us about the importance of a Sabbath rest? I believe this can be explained by what immediately follows in this passage.
Exodus 35:3 states, "You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day." Yesterday we discovered God warned us not to offer unholy fire, but we are not to kindle any fire in our own homes on the Sabbath. This is due to what the Israelites are supposed to be doing throughout the remainder of Exodus 35, namely, building the tabernacle. Six days we are provided to focus on building up our own homes and working creatively for ourselves, but the seventh God gives us for the building of His house.
The phrase "kindle a fire" in verse three has the connotation of building that which consumes. God gave us six days for us to be consumed by the interests of life, but that seventh was given so that we could be consumed with His interests and building a place for Him to dwell. Remember that holiness is inviting God back into the time, space, and matter that He created for us, and the Sabbath was a time set aside to do so. It is a time where we gather to reflect on what He has already done.
The Jewish Shabbat, as it is called, is a time for prayer, worship, and study of the Word. It is also a time for family and rest, prepared for each week. It is planned into the schedule, and in the more traditional households, the wife is blessed by her husband and children, and the father blesses the children. There is something to be learned here. When we divide time out for God, it results in blessing to other, particularly our family. This is why the Apostle Paul admonishes us in Hebrews 10:24-25,
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching."
The Jews say, "More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept the Jews."  Sound familiar? Jesus said in Mark 2:27-28, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath." God created this time, even commanded it, as a gift to us. In return, we gather and acknowledge His Lordship over all that we experience throughout the other six days of the week.
While we attend church weekly, is it a time planned for in our daily lives and something to which we look forward, or has it become a ritual of drudgery? Can I submit to you that the time we spend together in worship should be a time that we anticipate, knowing that no matter what life brought our way during the previous week or will bring in the following that resting and building a place for God is paramount to our lives?
Separating a time for God and our brothers and sisters in Christ is not optional. It is something that God commanded us to do and is characteristic of a holy lifestyle. God never intended for His people to live isolated from others, but building up the Kingdom of God together, first in our lives and then in the world. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul reminds us that we are the temple of the Holy Ghost. "For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's." Resting both in body and spirit glorifies our Lord.
In closing, consider Hebrews 3-4:1. In Hebrews 3, we see the template of Christ building, which is followed by a reminder of God's anger at the Israelites when they tested Him and entered into unbelief. This is followed with an admonishment to exhort one another, so we do not harden ourselves against Him. This passage of Scripture concludes, stating, "And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So, we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." Holy rest, setting aside time for God and others in obedience to Him, guards us not only against a hardened heart but unbelief. When we recognize that Christ Himself is our Sabbath, we find little difficulty in setting apart time for Him.
Father, forgive me for the times I have in selfishness removed myself from You and others – for the times I have willfully chosen not to be a blessing to You or those around me. Holy Spirit, please help me to set aside time to rest in all that You have done for me and will continue to do in my life as I honor You. I desire to receive and apply every gift You give me and enter the promised rest. I want to walk in obedience. Have Your way in me, I pray. In Jesus' Name, amen.
 "What Do Jewish Families Do On Shabbat?" One for Israel, May 30, 2014. Accessed May 31, 2021. What Do Jewish Families Do On Shabbat? - ONE FOR ISRAEL Ministry