From my 2016 Journal. Every Sunday, my missionary parents practiced Sabbath rules according to their own definition. We did not enter a restaurant or store, travel, cook, play table games, or indulge in handwork on that day. I began to question this logic when I discovered that Jewish Sabbath occurred from sundown to sundown Friday to Saturday, and never mind that we didn’t keep the rest of the Levitical laws.
Mosaic Law gave general rules for Sabbath (Shabbat) observance: no lighting fires in your house or cooking (Exodus 35:3) and limited traveling (Joshua 3:4-5). The ancient Pharisees interpreted and refined Sabbath rules according to their own parameters, and today their legalism extends to not pushing elevator buttons, turning on electric lights, or using any device-driven means of transportation.*
Jewish law prohibits work on Shabbat, but while resting is implied, the word Shabbat literally means “to cease” or “to sit.” God didn’t need rest after creating for six days. He simply ceased.
Reform Judaism says, “One should avoid one’s normal occupation or profession on Shabbat whenever possible and engage only in those types of activities that enhance the joy, rest, and holiness of the day.”
With this in mind, if I were trying to “keep the Sabbath” I would avoid housework, computer work, and the business end of my ministry. It would not preclude ministry itself according to Jesus’ example. He preached and healed all week long. You’d think He’d refrain on the seventh day and take this day off, but apparently His work wasn’t classified as labor.
I may not be Jewish, and yes, Jesus is my Sabbath rest, but I do need to “cease.” I need the change of pace, the chance to recoup, refresh, and recharge my body, mind, and soul.
So . . . once a week, I often turn off my computer, refrain from cleaning house, and occupy myself with things I enjoy doing—guilt-free, such as reading, doing a puzzle, or golfing with my husband (after church of course!)
What does your Shabbat look like?