The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
The Israelites in Nehemiah 10 applied God’s Word to their lives in three different areas. In addition to their family life, they committed to obedience in their work life. Look at verse 31: “As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.” As the Israelites looked at their work, they realized they were failing to follow God’s rule about the Sabbath. In Exodus 20, God said, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God” (vv. 9-10). That word “sabbath” literally means “to stop, to cease from doing.” God said we are to work six days a week, but the seventh day we are to take off.
Why did God give that command? In Mark 2:27, Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” The Sabbath day is God’s gift to us. He knows we cannot sustain seven-days-a-week labor for a long period of time without breaking emotionally and physically. In her book “Springs In The Valley,” Lettie Cowman told a story about a traveler in Africa who was trying to make a long trek, and he had hired a group of tribesmen to carry all of his luggage. The first day, they made extra good time and traveled a long distance. But on the second day, the tribesmen refused to budge. The traveler asked why they were not moving, and the tribesmen said they went so fast the day before that “they were now waiting for their souls to catch up with their bodies.” Then Cowman wrote, “The whirling rushing life which so many of us live does for us what that first march did for those poor jungle tribesmen. The difference: they knew what they needed to restore life’s balance; too often we do not.”
God knows what you and I need to restore balance in life. It is the one day a week that we take off–not just to play golf or entertain ourselves to death, but to restore ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The writer of Hebrews said it this way: “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another” (10:24-25). God has always had as a principle that one day a week His people would come together for corporate worship. Why? God knew His people needed that encouragement that comes from being together, from listening to the exposition of God’s Word, from singing praise to God. We need the encouragement that comes from being with other believers. That is why the Israelites said, “We are going to renew ourselves to keeping the Sabbath as you have commanded.”
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Declaration Of Dependence” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.
Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, “Springs In The Valley” (1939; repr., Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997), 207.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org