Too busy to “do” Sabbath? // Part 2 // What is the Sabbath for?


Sabbath seems to be one of those things that gets left off the sermon list. I don’t remember having heard a sermon in the last 30 years about it…but then again that could be my memory giving way…

When I was growing up Sundays meant that we were not allowed to go to work, nor were we allowed to play team sports. Usually we had a couple of doses of church and maybe entertained friends and spent the day watching telly and relaxing.

Over the years the intellectual idea of Sabbath that I developed and carried around with me involved a mythical day where I sat around and either did absolutely nothing, or did something fun with my family. I say “mythical” because it never actually happened. Being as over-committed as I was, Sundays were more often than not busier and more stressful than my regular work days. Sabbath was one of those things that I considered optional and therefore shelved it because I was busy doing stuff for God…which of course, made it alright.

I am learning a better way. I am learning that God put the Sabbath there and commanded us to keep it for a reason. Yeah, I know…d’uh! It never ceases to amaze me how slow I am to “get” this stuff! 🙂

From the study that I have been doing about what the Sabbath is for, I have come to the following two principles that I am trying to implement in my life.

1. The Sabbath was designed for restoration (biblical rest and leisure…and yes…they are different)

God rested at the end of his creative effort..not because he needed to, but so that he could appreciate what had gone before.

2. The Sabbath was designed for preparation.

The very first Sabbath in history was also Adam’s first full day on earth. He spent the day chilling with God and getting his instructions for the week ahead…he was getting focused on his God-given life purpose.

I am still learning how to make these principles work in practise, but I am noticing that these concepts fit nicely with the weekly review that I do as a part of my GTD implementation (for more info about GTD – Getting Things Done…click here), and it fits with The tenets of the Purpose Driven Life.

My next two posts will be about how I’m attempting to implement the two principles and going from a frenetic stressed life that focuses on being busy to a more peaceful life that is intentional about fulfilling my life’s purposes.

What do you do on the Sabbath? Do you think that observing the Sabbath is relevant in today’s world?



10 responses to “Too busy to “do” Sabbath? // Part 2 // What is the Sabbath for?

  1. Hi Michelle

    Great post! I’m also taking the time to rediscover what the Sabbath is all about after spending more than 10 years as a pastor and in various church leadership positions.

    Personally I’m finding that I need to have a day of ‘rest’. I’m desigend to stop, relax and spend time with others. I’m not as inclined to be busy busy busy but if I dont monitor myself I end up with no time for fulling my life’s purpose, to honour and serve God and my wife and family.

    I need to stop and take time to be with God and that doesnt necessarily mean at church on Sunday…

    I look forward to your next couple of posts!

  2. I have actually givien quite a bit of thought to this subject recently. With having to teach catechism it makes you think about the tenents of our faith. I too was not to play sport, went to church 2-3 times and was not allowed to shop – make others work on Sunday when I was young…er.
    Still reworking what I think….
    have a Sabbath… definately
    how to keep it holy?… not sure

    • young…er 🙂 hehehe

      Holy just means that something has been set aside. I think it indicates an intentional decision to set that thing aside. For us in this context it’s setting aside some time to focus on God etc. For those whose religion is sport, they set aside time to watch a game or two. For those whose religion is money, they set aside time to work or make investments perhaps. i think the key is the intentional approach to it. I tend to run on autopilot if I’m not careful. 🙂

  3. Resting is good. Setting time aside for God is good.

    However I don’t think there is any reason to keep the Sabbath as a command from a biblical point of view more then we should avoid wearing cloths made from more then one type of material, or tithing or sacrificing animals. Yeah its in the 10 commandments – and maybe the principles mentioned above are important however as Christians under the NT it’s clearly not something that we need to keep. What’s more if you keep the Sabbath day maybe you should keep the Sabbath year also? hmmm can you explain that to my boss for me? 🙂

    Colossians 2:16 (New International Version)

    16Therefore 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. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

    So yeah no need to keep the Jewish “Sabbath” along with its restrictions as a command like the orthodox Jews. . Resting and setting time aside for God is good, but not with the legality of the Jewish Sabbath which means ‘Sabbath” is just a misleading and confusing term for a Christian to be use I suspect.

    my goodness excuse the rant I am a bible nerd aren’t I?

    • LOL you’re free to rant all you like 🙂

      I agree that there is no need to observe the letter of the law as you describe. I do think there’s a biblical principle here that’s valuable, in terms of setting aside time to focus on godly things. If we start assigning rules and formulas to the way we do life with God, then we run the risk of becoming legalistic and corrupting what is supposed to be a free-flowing relationship. I don’t find the term Sabbath a confusing one, but then i don’t associate it purely with the Jewish orthodox observance either 🙂 What would you call it instead?

  4. Well if I was setting time aside for God, I would say I was “setting time aside for God’ though that’s vague so maybe I would want to be more precise.

    BTe the definition of Sabbath given by an online dictionary was:

    Main Entry:
    Sab·bath Listen to the pronunciation of Sabbath
    Middle English sabat, from Anglo-French & Old English, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbāth, literally, rest
    before 12th century

    1 a: the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians b: Sunday observed among Christians as a day of rest and worship
    2: a time of rest

      /ˈsæbəθ/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [sab-uhth] Show IPA
    Use Sabbath in a Sentence
    1. the seventh day of the week, Saturday, as the day of rest and religious observance among Jews and some Christians. Ex. 20:8–11.
    2. the first day of the week, Sunday, similarly observed by most Christians in commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ.
    3. any special day of prayer or rest resembling the Sabbath: Friday is the Muslim Sabbath.

    I don’t think this is exactly what you mean?

    • I don’t see anything in those definitions that is in conflict with what I am looking to implement. I believe that every day should be filled with prayer and worship (in the truest sense of those words, not what has come to be known as worship on a sunday morning), however taking a day for special focus I think is biblical and applicable for modern followers of Jesus. I also think that Sabbath is one of those words that has taken on a more generic connotation over the years.

  5. oh thats interesting. Where do you get that it’s biblical to taking a whole day as a special focus? And what do you mean by special focus?

    There may be other connotations among some groups for Sabbath but that’s what makes it confusing to me at least. For instance I didn’t know you were actually referring to a literal day. If you are then the term sabbath is maybe more appropriate but I still think probably a bit confusing. What exactly d you mean buy it – a day were you do rest more? spend time on christian activities?

  6. Hi Michelle

    Do you realise that the biblical sabbath is the seventh day of the week, Saturday, and not the first day of the week, Sunday?

    It is also part of the Ten Commandments to “remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, in it thou shall do no work, you nor your servent nor thy stronger that is within thy gates, therefore god blessed the seventh day and made it holy.

    If you google “who changed the sabbath” you will go find that the Catholic Church changed the commandment from the seventh day to the first. Also, the reason for the change to Sunday was in worship to the sun-god, Baal worship.

    Anyway I hope this helps, the sabbath is a blessing to all who keep it through faith in Jesus

    God bless

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