Whose schedule isn’t loaded at this point in the semester? Group projects, multiple jobs, applying for scholarships and internships: the list of responsibilities goes on and on. Life is tiresome at this point in our lives.
We’re caught up in this seemingly incessant obstacle course of managing time, accomplishing tasks and maintaining our health. Speaking from personal experience, I’ve lost sight of the importance and invaluableness of rest. I’m sure many of you could relate. And it may come as a surprise, but God can relate to this conundrum as well.
During his time on earth, Jesus was a busy man in his three years of ministry. He had to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. If anyone was burdened with an unimaginable amount of hardship, it was Him. So, before I go any further, I want you all to know He knows how hard it is to balance all of it, better than anyone else.
As God formed the universe by His own power, He set out a very important lesson for all of us — the gift of the Sabbath day.
“By the seventh day, God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work,” Genesis 2:2-3 reads. “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”
God wasn’t tired, and He wasn’t being lazy. It’s quite the opposite actually. God did this as a demonstration of two things: Giving man a day to sanctify themselves and a day to recover. God wants to make sure all of us stay on top of our game. It’s not a day meant so we can be excused of our laziness. It’s a day that we can use to make sure our work in the other days are something He (and we) can be proud of.
Many years later, Jesus was presented with a misunderstanding of why the Sabbath was something God mandated to us in Exodus 20 as part of the 10 commandments.
One Sabbath, Jesus and His disciples were going through grain fields (Mark 2:23). As they made their way, the disciples began to pluck heads of grain, most likely because they were hungry or wanted to save food for later because their leader, Jesus, was a homeless man.
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked Jesus, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
The Pharisees had taken their understanding of a blessing from God and distorted it into another part of their legality checklist. Similar attitudes and treatment of the Sabbath day exist in their own forms today, which is precisely why Jesus spoke on this during his bodily visit to earth. His words still ring true today. Jesus answered with a question, a signature tactic of His:
“Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was made for us. We were not made for the Sabbath. These are not my words. These are the words of God, spoken by his son, Jesus.
Don’t be fooled! The Sabbath was not given by a God who wants to force His kingdom into a full nelson submission. The Sabbath was given by God as a gift to his children; He made it for you and me.
“What does any of this have to do with you and I today as we fight through our collegiate careers?” you may ask.
Because of my disorganized schedule and irresponsible management of time, I compromise my intimacy with God to get better grades or make money at my job. I’ve become consumed with all these duties of work and studies, and my relationship with God has suffered. Many of you know exactly what it feels like.
God values a healthy lifestyle of mental, spiritual, physical and emotional states, but if we don’t take advantage of having a Sabbath day, it’s hard to expect those things to be maintained well.
Set aside a day, a portion of a day, or portions of multiple days, whatever works for you, and honor the Sabbath by keeping it holy in that time. Personally, I like to turn off my phone, read the Bible, listen to a sermon or spend time with my family. What is it in your life that keeps you from feeling fresh and ready to face the daily challenges of life?
It’s not an obsolete concept. You can find great things in honoring the Sabbath even today. There are hidden treasures to be found in the Sabbath, and we should be thankful to God for it.
Jeffrey Swindoll is a senior journalism major from Miami, Fla., and the Lariat Sports Editor.