Sabbath: ‘to stop, rest, delight’ – a discipline to cultivate during Lent (and beyond!)
We can’t stop
Pete Scazzero, Host of The Emotionally Healthy Leader shared a story in his podcast.
He asked his Therapist friend, “Why is it that Pastors don’t take Sabbath, even if they believe in it or teach it?”
Pete recounted how his friend laughed and replied,
“Because they are as out of control as the people who come to visit me in my Practice – they just can’t stop. If they stop, they will have to face things inside of themselves that they are hiding from.”
But Sabbath gives us permission to stop: as Pete Scazzero says, “Sabbath sets me free to not be finished!”
What is Sabbath?
Sabbath comes from the word Shabbat in Hebrew, which means ‘to stop, rest, delight.’
Yet it seems that this is one of the 10 Commandments that is easily disregarded. Why is that?
Some people say Jesus has fulfilled the law and so Sabbath is redundant.
Sabbath journey from a Host Team member
We talked to Sarah Boulton, at Heart of Notts Filling Station, about her journey of Sabbath as a Spiritual Discipline. She took us back to some of the Scriptures to help us see the Lord’s heart.
The Sabbath traditionally started on Friday evening with a special meal and went until Saturday evening. They always had communion together on the Friday evening.
The day would be about gathering the family together and re-charging batteries from 6 days of work, and resting.
“Did you know that we are in a Sabbath rest year now in the Hebraic calendar – 5782 started in September? Every 7 years, the Hebrew calendar marks a ‘Shmita’ (or ‘Shemitah’) which is a rest year.”– Sarah, Heart of Notts Filling Station
The concept for us now is remembering the everlasting and ancient ways of the Lord – not about becoming Jewish! Even the Acts Church would have Sabbath-ed! It likely changed in around 300AD when Constantine came into power and Jewish influences would have been ousted.
What did Jesus say?
Jesus ate, healed, taught on the Sabbath.
So what was Jesus doing when he went head-to-head with the Pharisees about Sabbath, who were entrenched in the Old Covenant (see scriptures at end of blog)?
He was getting back to the heart of the Sabbath. He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)
Even the Old Testament says,
The rest of God
Sabbath is entering into the rest of God: Hebrews tells us that we must make every effort to enter that rest!
‘Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest stills stans, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.’ (Hebrews 4)
Perhaps one of the most poignant questions for us now is do we trust God enough to Sabbath – eg taking a whole day to give to the Lord?
Do we trust Him to provide? We rest – and therefore, am I ‘wasting time’ because I’m not accomplishing a goal? And if I’m not working, will God still take care of me?
Sarah says, “Sabbath can be a battleground – there’s always something to do. I find it helps bring down a materialistic idol too.”
Practical ideas from our team for their Sabbath:
Jo: “I have a lie in, don’t do any chores (washing, cleaning, admin, and no work of course!). Do a walk, bike ride, or coffee with Richard…. Try and read a book (hard for me….usually I only read before I go to sleep!), do any life-giving, enjoyable activity (am trying to upholster a chair at the moment!)”
Richard: “I don’t look at Main Stream News (MSM).
I also intentionally do relaxing pursuits – for me! eg chop wood, garden, exercise, fell walk with Jo, read.”
Amanda: “I love to get outdoors, but I need to make sure it’s not just another action day, but one to slow down. Something that’s more restful!”
Going back to the old, can help shed light on the new:
- Genesis 2 and 3 – God rested from all He had made
- Exodus 16:22-30 – So the people rested on the seventh day
- Exodus 20:8-11 – Instructions for the Sabbath are between how we related to God and how to relate to one another – almost like a bridge
- Exodus 23:10 – Even the land needs a Sabbath – in the 7th year, let it like and let it rest
- Deuteronomy 5:12-15 – Keep it Holy
- Leviticus 23:3 – Work 6 days, rest on the 7th
- Leviticus 26:2 – Those that dwell in God and His Sabbath will dwell in safety
- Exodus 31:12-17 – Sabbath is a sign for generations to come of God’s goodness. They were super serious about it!
- Nehemiah 13:15-22 – a warning about doing anything on the Sabbath!
- Isaiah 56:1-8 – Those who keep the Sabbath will have joy in the house of the Lord!
- Jeremiah 17:19-27 – Do not bring a load on the Sabbath through the city gates!
- Isaiah 58:13-16 – You will find your joy in the Lord
- Ezekiel 20:8-26 – The Sabbath is a sign that sets us apart to be holy
A handful of Sabbath resources:
- 52 Sabbaths: Sabbath Love by David Hoffbrand, based in Brighton – Sign up for a new Sabbath insight each Friday.
- Discover the Rhythms of Sabbath: from The Emotionally Healthy Leader Podcast by Pete Scazzero.
Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Pete’s blog | Listen on Spotify
- Sabbath: from Fight Hustle, End Hurry by John Mark Comer and Jeff Bethke.
Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify
- Resting on the Sabbath and Unpacking Its Treasures, by David Hoffman
- Shabbat Shalom!, Prophecy Today
- Sabbath Revisited Part II, Prophecy Today