Q. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
A. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained (1) and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I diligently attend the assembly of God’s people (2) to learn what God’s Word teaches (3), to participate in the sacraments (4), to pray to God publicly (5), and to bring Christian offerings for the poor (6).Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath (7).
Read: (1) Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5; (2) Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25; (3) Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31-32; 1 Tim. 4:13; (4) 1 Cor. 11:23-25; (5) Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1; (6) Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8-9; (7) Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11.
Rest is a critical aspect of a healthy life and yet, we live in the age of productivity. We send emails, answer phones, have full schedules, and do in a frenzy to get that productivity high that gives us a jolt of energy and a ton of praises. Most western societies work and focus on working and create working projects because productivity is king. And yet God calls us to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”(Exodus 20:8). But why? With so much to do and so little time, why would God call us to stop and keep the Sabbath holy? Let’s study question 102 of The Heidelberg Catechism to understand this.
In our frenzied lives we are constantly focusing on achieving, on becoming more, on being better in order to compete with others. We focus our attention on our next promotion and give it our all to achieve it. Moms shove kids around nonstop to extracurricular activities so that their kids become the dream productivity machine. We are on the go, go, go… we eat fast food, we get impatient in red lights, we yell at our internet for being so slow and as we push through our days in a constant state of madness, we forget to stop and worship God.
And this has always been the case for humans. There is always more land to till; seeds to plant; projects to create; things to achieve. And although excellency is good, it is when we become obsessed with ourselves and our achievements that we lose the purpose of our lives which is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. But God gave us the Sabbath. He tells us to remember it and keep it holy. And so we should.
Sabbath comes from the Hebrew “day of rest or stop from work”. And just as God had worked for 6 days and rested on the 7th, He wants us to do the same. This day is a stopping of all activities. Of focusing on God and our relationship with Him. This day is an act of trust and obedience because though we could be doing more, we trust that He is the provider of all things in our lives. The Sabbath is an act of worship because when we stop focusing on ourselves, we can truly focus on the giver of it all. The Sabbath is sanctified, consecrated, different. But sister, because of Jesus, the Sabbath becomes our true rest.
I don’t know if you struggle to feel fully accepted by God. I don’t know if part of your frenzied life is in a way, to please God, to be accepted by Him. I find myself either bargaining my “ministry chips” or thinking that if I do this, then God will do this or like me more. These thoughts just make me become more self centered and work myself into the frenzy of do more so God accepts me more. The do’s and don’t do’s of ministry; the do’s and don’t do’s of Christianity; the do’s and don’t do’s of my tradition…it is exhausting because no matter what I do, I will never be enough! And in comes Jesus. “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus accomplished everything once and for all and so I can truly rest. I no longer need to work myself into a frenzy of positive productivity to be justified and accepted by God because He did it all! And in that rest, I can remind myself that He holds everything in His hands (Psalm 95:4) and that I can make a myriad of plans, but ultimately He directs and controls my life (Proverbs 16:2, James 4:13-15). And so, in Jesus, dear sister, you and I can rest.
So as we finish this teaching today, I want to ask you. Are you working yourself to a frenzy to be justified by God or are you resting in the rest of Jesus? Are you holding your plans so tightly that you do, do, do and go, go, go; or are you trusting in the One who holds your plot and in Whom you have a beautiful inheritance? And if you are working and have found no rest, would you look unto Jesus so that you may find the rest that your soul so needs?
Resting in Christ