The fourth commandment to keep the Sabbath is all about how we offer up our time to God. As Christians, we know we ought to live our entire life dedicated to God. That includes obvious things like giving our heart to God. It also means dedicating practical things like our finances by being generous towards people in need. But dedicating ourselves to God also includes using our time in a Godly manner, too. We usually forget about this important resource!
Taking time out of your week to worship God is a crucial part in keeping the fourth commandment. We are called to have this sacred time of rest in order to properly honor God with our work. As I preached on Sunday, we can obviously do that by worshipping on Sunday morning. But if you’re like me, however, chances are we need that regular Sabbath time. Daily devotion to God is obviously ideal, but chances are, we often struggle to make this a weekly, monthly, or otherwise infrequent commitment.
This means setting aside time to intentionally and directly praise God each day. It often helps to do some sort of devotional, pray with family, or even just sit in silence for five minutes. Regardless of how we practice Sabbath, the point is that we ought to budget our time, so to speak, to prioritize and remember our relationship with God.
Abraham Heschel was a Jewish theologian from the mid 20th century who often wrote on the importance of the Sabbath. His own work has influenced how I approach the fourth commandment. Here are some quotes from books he wrote about Sabbath rest:
- “The Sabbath is the most precious present humankind has received from the treasure house of God. All week long we think God is too far away… But on the sabbath, we can meet God.”
- “Zion is in ruins, Jerusalem lies in the dust. All week there is only hope of redemption. But when the Sabbath is entering the world, man is touched by a moment of actual redemption; as if for a moment the spirit of the Messiah moved over the face of the earth.”
- “He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.”
- “Unless you learn how to relish in the taste of sabbath, you will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.”
Sabbath is when we can experience God by setting aside time for rest. Honoring God with how we spend the time in our week is something we often overlook. Yet it is so important for us to seize this opportunity for divine intimacy, otherwise we risk drifting away from God.