“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
Yesterday was the first Sunday after my first full week of purposefully avoiding idleness, and as such, it was the first Sunday in my memory that I truly felt enabled and entitled to not do any work.
According to The Wiersbe Bible Commentary on Exodus 20:8-11, “The word ‘sabbath’ means ‘rest.’… While the Sabbath was rooted in creation (Gen. 2:1-3), it was also a special sign between Israel and the Lord (Ex. 31:12-17; Neh. 9:13-15; Ezek. 20: 12, 20), and there’s no biblical evidence that God commanded any Gentile nation to observe the seventh day (Ps. 147:19-20)…. When the Jews observed the Sabbath, it was not only a mark of their devotion to the Lord, but it was also a witness to their pagan neighbors to whom the seventh day was just another day. By resting on the seventh day, the Jews were promoting their own welfare as well as that of their servants and farm animals, acknowledging the lordship of Jehovah over time and creation (Ex. 23:12).”
Honestly, I’ve never had a good understanding of why a day of rest is important or of what a day of rest actually looks like. Especially as a wife and mother, I’ve wondered if taking a day to not do any work is even possible. (We’ve all heard–and probably testified to–the old addage, “A mother’s work is never done.”) Yesterday… and the days leading up to it… proved to me that it is. Possible. To not work.
You see, yesterday was a day of not working like I’ve never experienced before. The preceding six days full of completed household tasks and projects–and the Saturday of working a little later into the evening than normal–set me up for a day of rest that brought not only refreshment of mind, body, and spirit, but also joy and peace in knowing all that had been accomplished during the six days in order to make the seventh day possible. So often we focus on the part of the commandment that says, “But the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work,” to the exclusion of the part that says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” What a blessing it is to have a day of true rest as a reward for six days of diligence in hard work! I think God knew we would need such a provision in order for us to “keep on keepin’ on.”