Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus chapter 20, verses 8-11.
“Lead from the front.” This is one of my friend Pat’s favorite sayings. Great military leaders do this: think Washington at Trenton, Macarthur in the trenches of France, Alexander leading his armies. Great political leaders lead this way: think Lincoln visiting the battlefields, Churchill during the Blitz, Reagan imploring the Communists to “tear down this wall.” Great parents lead from the front: think setting goals for their families, 2 AM feedings when they’re dog-tired, working for years at jobs that somehow add up to much less than their true hopes and dreams.
God is the best leader of all. He always leads from the front. Here, in the fourth commandment, He implores us to rest and uses Himself as the example. He implores us to and set aside a reasonable amount of our time – our time that He gives us as an equally distributed gift – as a way to seek out His rest. He commands us to rest in every way of our lives, physically, emotionally, and especially spiritually.
Note the “keeping it holy” clause. It doesn’t mean “sleep all day” or “get wasted” or “sit around while someone else waits on you” or “clean up the garage so you can throw a kegger next week.” Keep it holy. Not just nice; not go hang out at church with the other sinners; not give it the old college try: holy. Unblemished. Following Jesus’ example. Good luck with that.
I’m not saying that to be cynical. It’s impossible for us to be holy or to keep something holy on our own. The ONLY way to keep it holy is to turn over the entire Sabbath day to Jesus. Like Ms Underwood said, let Him take the wheel. “When was the last time you did that, Dave Terry?” you might ask. Fair question and the fair answer can only be that I’ve blown it. How about you?
Great leaders do this and great leaders know their troops need R&R after fighting at the front. Too many days in the trenches and you go crazy; go crazy and you slip into sin. God commanded us to keep the day of rest holy by keeping our rest within Him. When we do that, we find that we want to rest more than one day a week. We want to rest in Him all the time.
Lord, be my only rest.
Read Exodus chapter 14, God saves the Israelites from the Egyptians in crossing the Red Sea.