Sabbath: ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting

Ideas drawn from
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly by Marva Dawn

Ex 31 “I am God who makes you holy”. Sabbath means that I am not God and He is!

Background: (Ex 20:8-11; Lev 25:2; Dt 5:12-15; Ps 118:24; Is 56:2; 58:13,14; Mt 12:1-14; Col 2:16,17; Hb 4:1-11)

Sabbath was celebrated every seventh day and every seventh year.

Exodus grounds Sabbath in creation and evokes God’s character.
  • Sabbath keeping is being like God who also took a Sabbath.
  • We imitate God so we STOP trying to be God so we can recognize we need Him.
Deuteronomy grounds Sabbath in liberation and evokes God’s redemption.
  • Sabbath keeping is never being slaves again.
  • Being God’s free servants.
  • Don’t revive (slavery) what God removes.
  • A refusal to go back to Egypt.
  • Only God can rid us of our taskmasters.
  • Sabbath is a turning over to God all those things that can become taskmasters – money, reputation, status, work, plans, projects, etc.
Sabbath has been instituted by God to keep the relationship alive between Him and us.
Sabbath is a covenant between God and His people.
Sabbath means to pay attention, be fully alert, and awake.

Sabbath is ceasing/stopping.
  • Stopping work including the Lord’s work – didn’t God stop His work after 6 days?
  • Stopping anxiety and worry
  • Stopping the need to accomplish and produce
  • Stopping the efforts to control our lives.
  • Stopping possessing
  • Stopping the need to create our future.
    So that we realize we are not God and we can trust God to take care of us!
    Sabbath is reaffirming our trust in God’s faithfulness and love.
    Sabbath is not an interlude, but a climax of our living.
    – The Jewish concept of time-Rest determines work, not the other way around.

Sabbath is resting.
  • Learning to delight in God because we are not striving to control.
  • We learn by faith to rest in God’s grace. Solitude and silence and reflection are welcomed.
  • Sabbath is accepting the sovereignty of God.
  • Resting is letting God be God-ceasing from control and the must to know.
  • Sabbath gives opportunity for play. Do I play enough? Do we risk enough and bask in God’s creation enough and do some things for no reason other than that we’ll be dead soon enough anyhow, so why not live a little now? Play subverts necessity and utility and business. It subverts the taskmasters who want us to be useful. Play rehearses heaven. Play and risk-taking is part of Sabbath.
  • Sabbath rest reduces hostilities within and without

Sabbath is embracing.
  • Sabbath is deliberate and intentional.
  • It is embracing God’s values as good.
  • It is remembering that the land is God’s (Lv 25:23)-stewardship
  • It is a call to reliance on God (Lv 25:20-22)-faith dependence.
  • We are loved and appreciated without doing anything.
  • Sabbath keeping is not doing what everyone else does.
  • Intentionality gives a deliberate lifestyle based on God’s grace rather than our works.
  • Sabbath embraces God’s generosity and hospitality.

Sabbath is celebration/feasting.
  • Returning with open arms to our Creator.
  • “Only when we love Him so much that we prefer His ways to ours will we be open to receive His gracious revelation of Himself.” (159)
  • Feasting with affection.
  • Feasting on the presence of God.


Ceasing deepens our repentance of failing to trust God.
Resting strengthens our faith in the totality of His grace.
Embracing invites us to live the values and lifestyle of our faith.
Feasting heightens our sense of eschatological hope, a foretaste of the joy to come.


“Busyness makes us stop caring about the things we care about the most.”
“Busyness robs us of knowing God.”