In the creation story, God created Adam on the sixth day and He rested on the seventh. So for Adam, the first day of his life was actually a Sabbath. What does that tell us?
First of all, the fact that God rested on the seventh day shows that God wanted to model rest to us. God didn’t need to rest. But He rested, as He wanted Adam to take His example and rest.
Second, God took a day off to spend time with His newly created son, Adam. So the Sabbath is about spending time with God. It is not about vegging out after a week of hard work in front of the TV. It is about spending time with the Father and getting filled up from being in His presence.
And thirdly, Adam’s day of rest was the first day of his life, not the seventh. That shows that God wants us to spend time with Him first before we go into the world. We need to get filled up on God before we can take on all the struggles and tasks of our week and be able to pour into others. We need to get filled with God’s Spirit and love to be able to represent Him well.
And fourth, God didn’t ask Adam to work first and then spend time with Him on the Sabbath. This shows us God’s heart. We don’t earn God’s love by working hard during the week. God offers His love to us freely before we do any work. God encouraged Adam to find rest in Him first, before Adam was to do any work in the garden. God’s love is not conditional on what we do. He is a loving Father that just wants to spend time with us! This means that our primary identity is not rooted in what we do, but rather in who we are. We are God’s children.
This was the original Sabbath before sin entered the world. So what happened next to the Sabbath?
People wandered away from God and through Moses, God gave them the Ten Commandments. One of those commandments was to keep the Sabbath day holy.
Over the course of centuries the Sabbath day became a very legalistic observance filled with man-made traditions.
And then Jesus came.
When people sinned, the Sabbath day was given to them as a foreshadow of the rest they would eventually find in God one day. And when Jesus came, He fulfilled that promise.
Now anyone who believes in Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior can find that rest in Him. Rest from constantly having to prove your worth or earn God’s love. We are already loved by God even before we do anything to earn His love. Jesus helped to restore our relationship with God and now we are back to the Sabbath like in the garden of Eden when Adam was made.
It wasn’t a legalistic Sabbath. It was just the day God wanted to spend with His child, Adam, and the day that His children can spend with Him. It does not have to look any certain way.
The Sabbath is there for us to just fill up on God. It doesn’t even have to be any particular day of the week. It’s really up to us. The main thing is we worship God and spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word. And worship could also look like painting or singing, whatever is your way of praising God.
We shouldn’t find ourselves stressed trying to keep all the legalistic rules. If there is something urgent that needs our attention, then it is okay to take care of that thing even on a Sabbath.
The Sabbath is not a rule to keep. It is an offer of rest that God is giving to us. The Sabbath was created for us to enjoy and find our rest in Him. It is about going back to our identities of being God’s children first and foremost, and shedding all the false identities that the world has been putting on us during the week. It is about being reminded that we are already loved before we go and do all the work during the week.