Sabbath as Delight
Bible Background: The first creation story ends (Genesis 2:2-3) with God resting on the 7th day. God as Creator responds all through that account declaring “it was good!” Psalm 104 celebrates God as Creator and gives the sense that God, nature, and people all delight in the amazing things God has made! Perhaps one of the most important purposes of the sabbath day is for us to be able to slow down enough to ‘stop and smell the roses’.
Digging Deeper: 1. By the time of Jesus (who faces numerous controversies over the proper way to keep the sabbath), Jewish tradition had put into place 613 regulations on what you could and could not do on the sabbath day. (And you thought you grew up with a lot of rules!) That sucked the joy out of the sabbath, making it much more about law and obligation than about ‘gospel’ and enjoyment. One wonders how often Jesus would have to ‘bite his tongue’ in the presence of the sabbath ‘police’. How do we help someone who ‘sucks the joy’ out of an opportunity God provides because they are so concerned about correctness or fear of failure?
2. In John 15, when Jesus invites followers to “abide in me” and stay connected as a branch is connected to the vine, he adds: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” What is the ‘joy’ of Jesus like? How would you describe it? When have you experienced it? How can you share it? Who has shown it to you? (Does singing “O the Joy” today help remind us of how precious this is?)
3. What is one thing that brings you delight? (That is not work-related, that doesn’t cost much money, or doesn’t require major travel?) Something you actually can enjoy without much fuss? How might this opportunity be a gift from God? Is it refreshing and renewing for you?
4. “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy” is more than a suggestion; more than a command. It’s an invitation to delight in having God as our God. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4) Reflect on something each day this week that allows you to delight in the Lord. Is it as simple as the cup of coffee or wine you get to savor? Or a child or grandchild, niece or nephew? Is it the joy of a friendship God has allowed you to be part of? Or something in nature? Give thanks for how these delights are in a sense, ‘little sabbaths’ that renew and refresh us.
5. Thoughtful writer and pastor, Eugene Peterson (author of The Message Bible), notes that the ‘days’ in Genesis 1 begin with evening…then morning; just as Sabbath for Jews starts in the evening. He writes a that evening and morning is an assurance that God begins the day while we sleep; we enter each day after God’s already spent hours attending to us. Rest on that thought tonight! Wake to it tomorrow!