“Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come…. The essence of the world to come is Sabbath eternal, and the seventh day in time is an example of eternity.”
Hebrews 4:9-11 says:
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest...” (NIV11)
The idea of Sabbath is introduced in Genesis 2 and the theme continues to be address throughout the Scriptures, all the way to Revelation. "Honoring the Sabbath" is included as one of the Ten Commandments, alongside worshiping God alone and not murdering people. But few Christians make the practice of Sabbath (a 24 hour period of rest and worship) a key part of their lives.
The truth of Rabbi Heschel’s statement above is important for us to contemplate. Sabbath is not merely about taking a day off so that we don’t get too tired. It’s about practicing for eternity. The author of Hebrews' description of “a Sabbath-rest for the people of God” makes it clear that our practice of Sabbath today is directly connected to our eternal practice of Sabbath-rest in the next life. If we don't learn how to enjoy resting in this life, we may have difficulty resting in the next one.
In his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader, author and pastor Peter Scazzero describes four foundational characteristics of a healthy and biblical Sabbath:
In August’s weekly emails/blog posts, we’ll be exploring each of these four Sabbath practices in turn and looking at how we might grow in our practice of Sabbath, both individually and corporately.
I hope that you’ll take some time this month to slow down, to stop working, to rest, to delight, and to contemplate God. Sabbath is a gift that God has given to us, and we invariably suffer when we reject the gift. When we practice Sabbath, we rejoice in the reality that in Jesus Christ, eternity has entered our present experience.