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The Rest of the Gospel: Why We Need a Sabbath
Since God is in the heavens and we breathe through our noses, we shouldn’t need special revelation to understand that his ways are infinitely beyond ours. He “hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” We have our way in dirty diapers, traffic jams, and incessant robocalls. Even still, this comparison is illusory since the One with whom we have to do is incomparable.
Multiply impossibility by infinity, carry the one, round that to the nearest decimal point, and you will have sussed out the likelihood that we dirt-born things should ever be confused with he who made us. And yet, we are made in his image. We, children of the clay, are indelibly marked with the fingerprints of the Divine. Unlikely though it may seem, we were fashioned to participate in the glorious life of the Eternal God. So, he gave us the sabbath...
God knew that we rarely know what’s good for us. So in an act of magnanimity, he gave us six days to work and to do all our pleasure. In an act of mercy, he obliged us to give one day back to him for safekeeping. The command to “remember the sabbath, to keep it holy,” is not the harsh dictate of a tyrant; neither is it simply a tax on our time sheets. It is a gift.
We live hurried, harried lives. We burn our candles at both ends, all the while trying to find a way to insert yet another wick into the melting middle. We are in desperate need of rest; not only from our menial labors, but also from our constant pursuit of pleasure. We need a breather after all of that panting after amusement, arousal, and distraction. Sabbath is the antidote to our addiction to endless diversions.
Sabbath is the means by which our frazzled humanity is repaired week by week. Through it, God offers us a break from the frenzy in order to break its stranglehold over us. The ceaseless noise of the world is a diabolical incantation. We need the soul-silence of Sunday to break its spell.
According to the strange ways of our God, such silence comes through communion with the Word—Jesus Christ. The sabbath offers a weekly opportunity for us to be caught up in the conversation between the Father and his Son by means of the Spirit. This is true communion, the antithesis of the vain babblings of the world. Here we learn to pray. Prayer is not idle chatter; it is the holy language which declutters our lives so that our noisy hearts may be quieted and attuned to the voice of God. That which occurs in the resultant stillness is what we call praise—the reverberating echo of deep calling unto deep.
The sabbath works while we rest. In this way, it teaches us the gospel. In the Creation account we learn that man’s first full day on earth was the sabbath. God formed Adam on Friday at just about quittin’ time, then God gave him the next day off. Adam’s first duty was to rest in the finished work of God. Likewise, Calvary was the scene of new creation. God in Christ finished the great work of reconciliation. Resurrection Day became for us the sabbath of the new world. Our resting in that is the means of our redemption.
Just as God rested, he bids us enter into times of hallowed repose. Therein we subvert the Satanic lie as we actually do become like God. Every Sunday is a symbol of our filial participation in paternal privileges. Sabbath is a sign of theosis; a symbol of our ultimate deification.
So learn to call the sabbath a delight rather than a drudgery. This is the day which the Lord has made especially for us. After first teaching us what it is for, our gracious Father turns around and gives us back the day which he asked of us in the beginning—as sheer gift! Rejoicing with unbridled gladness seems the only reasonable reaction to such a gregarious gesture.
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