God exists, and He loves you. How long will it take before we open our eyes and dare to answer His tender voice? In this world where we are living there is so much stress and pressure all around us every single day. The time seems to disappear before it has arrived, and so too, with life itself. With time crunches that make life feel a little too cramped, it is important to realize that the truths that make life richer are valuable and important truths. One of the most useful, beautiful, and dear truths life has to offer is found in Exodus 31:13-17 in a short, intimate paragraph. Here God Himself is speaking. Take a few minutes, and hear what He has to say to you:
“Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you” (Exodus 31:13).
God starts off by reminding us that the Sabbath that was instituted on the seventh and last day of the creation week is to be guarded, protected. Our Father does not want us to forget how much He loves us. The Sabbath is to be a sign, a flag in our everyday lives that makes us aware of the fact that it is He who guides us and gives us life. God boldly proclaims that he is willing to take responsibility for us, for our happiness and our growth. If we keep His Sabbath, we give Him the opportunity to sanctify us. It’s like a place to stop; a well. If you pause, He can give you water to drink.
“You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 31:14, 15).
When we get such a beautiful opportunity to grow in love and devotion to our Creator, it implies that something is needed from us. First and foremost; willingness. A relationship does not grow by force. Secondly, that we use common sense. It is to no avail if we work without food, drink or rest. We lose vitality. We atrophy. We die. Trying to quench the thirst ourselves ends in no good, for on our own, there is nothing more to be gained. We are what we are and nothing more. He is more than we are, and in His goodness we can grow. Goodness includes honesty, and therefore God does not entice us with flattering words, so as to lead us to the ballrooms of death. Instead, He clearly shows us the contrast between peace and perdition, and lets us make the final decision.
It is easy to think that the Sabbath is not too big of a deal. Is it not just another minor detail? We tend to diminish the importance of things, but God seems to be very minute and extremely careful in everything that He does. Take a look at your right hand. Can you see what looks almost like small puzzle pieces that come together to form the skin that covers your entire body, from head to toe? This, He has woven together, and it is only the surface. Just as your body is carefully composed, life is also composed of important puzzle pieces that make it all complete. Time and relationships, faith and hope, family and friends, God and love. If we start to minimize any of these, the big picture unravels. We peel off our skin. And by not admitting it, we end up deceiving ourselves. Self-deception is something most of us have been practicing for years. We are all aware of it. God is too, but in spite of that, He still loves you. Always, and forever.
“Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:16).
“Therefore. . .” Because God is good, He wants us to be safe throughout all generations and into eternity. He has seen clearer than anyone else what happens when humans turn away from His love that tenderly forms and strengthens our close relations. When people say that love is all emptiness, they usually describe a situation where love is absent. Without love, everything really is emptiness. But His love towards you never changes or falls away. He is eternal, but more than that, He is always faithful. He wants you to keep the Sabbath holy, because without it you lose focus. By it, you become aware of what salvation means and where it comes from because you realize that God, your dearest friend, saves you out of all forms of sin into His eternal love.
The Sabbath works kind of like an anchor. Out on the rolling sea of uncertainty, we have found lee. It lies in the back of the boat, the anchor. You walk to the back. While the anchor is lifted up, it seems to want to go down. It is made of sturdy, weighty metal. A little rough, but the surface feels good against the palms. The anchor is thrown out of the boat, and it sounds a loud splash. Down in the blue, smooth water it disappears. The rope, likewise, disappears. The rest of the coil lying in the boat is whirring, until there’s nothing left. The anchor is stuck at the bottom. All the while the boat is kept in place in the waters. The Sabbath keeps in place the true value, meaning and purpose of life. The Sabbath anchors your position as a child of God.
“It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed’” (Exodus 31:17).
He Himself rested on the Sabbath. The word for refreshed in Hebrew, naphash, literally means to breathe. To be refreshed as if by a current of air. In Norwegian Bibles it is translated, “He rested and exhaled calmly.” God Himself exhaled. Calmly. The breath is by many seen as a definition of life itself. From the moment a baby is born and starts to first cry, until that very same person many years later says goodbye for now, there is one thing that kept him going more than anything else. Breath. The wind that is dancing in the trees might be some of the air that left your nostrils yesterday. Its ways, we know little of, but we do know the importance of it.
Inhale slowly. Hold your breath while you slowly count to seven on your fingers. Feel the tension as it builds. Breathe out gently. How does it feel? Nice? Peaceful? A pleasure? A relief? Focusing on the breath for a few moments makes life feel like a breath of fresh air. Let’s try to count to seven again. This time, breathe just like you would normally do. One, two, three, four, five, six. . . and seven. How was it this time? Nothing special. Right? We even forget that we breathe. We forget who gave us the breath of life. But when we cease to breath we realize how much we need to breath.
We need to pause on Sabbath to breath in the refreshing love of God. We can’t live long without breathing, and we can’t live long—certainly not eternally—without fellowship with God.
God, our creator and maintainer invites us to spend time with Him in a temple made of sacred time that is lowered upon us once a week on the seventh day. One day for special fellowship with our Maker, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
Remember to breath.
Stein, a native Norwegian, is a graduate of our 2011 Cornerstone program and is currently studying different topics on his own to improve his abilities to reach people for the heavenly kingdom. He is a long time student of music, poetry and social skills, and is now using it all to the glory of God, as a son of God. If you’d prefer to read this article in Norwegian, it is available on his blog.