Rest, Reflect, Revere, and Rejoice – it is Sabbath
The present generation has been gripped with ‘weekend mania’. The popular culture has created five days work and two days enjoyment. In fact, many work for five days just to enjoy for two days. The Statute of Sabbath ordained by God is misunderstood and rejected by many including Christians. The primary purpose of Sabbath is rest and worship and that applies always for humans; though the specific Old Testament instructions don’t. There are certain professions require people to work on Sunday, at the same time should set aside another day of the week as Sabbath.
‘And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:2,3) In all cultures around the world, seven days week is the norm. The reason is, all humanity descends from the first couple of Adam and Eve. All time belongs to God and one seventh has to be set aside as holy, which is expression of voluntary gratitude.
The Genesis narration by Moses clearly states that God rested on the Seventh Day. He is the model and inspiration for humans who were created in His image. God is concerned about the human need. Body and Soul of any person needs rest. Physical rest helps a person to recoup and renew. The Sabbath originated as an institution even before the Fall of man.
Sabbath day helps a person to reflect. It helps us to understand that humans do not exist or live to work but for God. It is beneficial to spend time reflecting – life purpose, lifestyle and how our relationship was with Him over the past week. Reflection is an act by mind. Many times, people are more lazy mentally rather than physically. Hence, they prefer not to think or reflect but doing things. Reflection means to avoid doing things which is routinely done every day as far as possible.
Worship is another important aspect of the Sabbath. Pharisees accused the disciples of working on Sabbath when they ate grains as they walked through the field. Lord defended them and emphasized that worship is the most important than just ritual observance of the Sabbath. Priest cannot define worship as ‘work’ and take exemption. “Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless?” (Matthew 12:5) Worship is acknowledging God’s Lordship and affirming our total trust on Him.
Sabbath is a day to rejoice in the Lord. Worshipping him, hearing his word, and having fellowship with his saints. Gathering for worship is not a ritual or burden but a spiritual exercise that brings joy. Psalmist exhorts people of God to come to his presence with gladness, joy, thankfulness, joyful noise and singing. (Psalm 100) Sabbath is also time to rejoice with our own families. Without burden of routine errands and work, it is relaxed time to have meaningful conversation, meals and fellowship together.
The weekend mania is in contrast to a purposeful, sacred and solemn Sabbath.
Weekend mania has an attitude of entitlement and not of gratefulness. The assumption is that all the seven days of a week belongs to them and have a right to decide how to use the weekend. An individual becomes sovereign, replacing God. Many times the assumption is that they live for weekend all the five days. God becomes an encroacher of their right (well earned) to these people.
Weekend mania is to enjoy life. Enjoyment is to seek personal fulfillment and satisfaction by indulging in interesting desires. These activities may not be illegal or immoral but not edifying spiritually. There is a great expectation for the weekends and long weekends. Mostly, it is family or social gatherings to relax, unwind and do nothing. Like the rich man in the Parable of Rich Fool they say to themselves: “And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” (Luke 12:19)
The Digital generation has entertainment as a major part of life. With games even on mobile phones, entertainment kills lot of time people have. Entertainment theme parks, malls with entertainments and weekend escapades (packages offered by various agencies) are agenda for many.
There is no room for God in their lives for those who celebrate Weekend instead of Sabbath. Weekend enjoyment instead of Sabbath worship would make a person weakened spiritually. Weekend festivities will ultimately result in emptiness, purposelessness and restlessness while Sabbath brings peace, life focus, life purpose and enduring joy in our lives.