Video by BibleProject

It’s Saturday afternoon. As you tidy up the house and run a few last-minute errands in preparation for your family’s weekly Sabbath rest, you feel a sense of peace and anticipation.

The bustling workweek is over, and now it’s finally time to slow down, unplug technology, and reconnect with God, loved ones, and even yourself.

You glance at your phone and sigh quietly, willing yourself to ignore the never-ending notifications demanding your attention. Not today, you resolutely tell yourself as you switch your phone to “do not disturb” mode.

As the glowing sunset gives way to twilight, you light the Sabbath candles, taking in their gentle flicker. A smile tugs at your lips.

This is how the Sabbath was meant to be observed from the very beginning – as a gift, not a burden.

The Lost Art of True Rest

The Lost Art Of True Rest

In today’s chaotic world, keeping the Sabbath may seem like a romantic notion from bygone days.

Our society equates busyness with success and significance. We drive ourselves relentlessly in pursuit of the next milestone or accomplishment.

In the process, we’ve lost touch with the “stop day,” or Sabbath rest (Shabbat) that God Himself ordained after the six days of creation (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV).

Author Wayne Muller writes in his book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives:

“We live in a society that does not remember the Sabbath. The ceaseless movement, activity, and productivity of our time has swept away our leisure, our stillness, our ability simply to be rather than to do…We are terrified to allow even one day of ceasing in our financial concerns, our business activities, our electronic network of communication.”

The pitfalls of this restless approach are becoming increasingly evident. Working long hours without breaks can lead to dire consequences like depression, anxiety, heart disease, and even premature death.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31 (ESV)

So what is the solution to our frenzied, fatigue-filled existence? The answer is as counter-cultural now as it was thousands of years ago when God invited His people to take part in His Sabbath rest:

 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

By observing a weekly day of rest, reflection, and renewal – according to God’s commandment – we are better equipped physically, mentally, and spiritually to handle the demands of the other six days.

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 20:11 (ESV)

A Biblical Foundation: Understanding Sabbath Rest

Understanding Sabbath Rest

To truly reclaim the biblical purpose of Sabbath rest, we must first explore its foundations in Scripture.

What is Sabbath Rest in the Bible?

The Bible first introduces the concept of the Sabbath in the opening chapter of Genesis, as God blesses and sets apart the seventh day following His work of creation.

“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

Genesis 2:3 (ESV)

The word Sabbath itself literally means to “cease” or “stop.” So on the Sabbath, God Himself ceased from labor to reflect on what He had accomplished.

“It will be a sign between me and the Israelites 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 (ESV)

Under the Old Covenant, strict rules governed Sabbath observance (Nehemiah 13:15-22).

The Israelites were forbidden to work, kindle a fire, gather food, or even leave their homes on this solemn “holy day of rest to the Lord” (Exodus 16:26-30).

However, Jesus confronted the legalism surrounding Sabbath-keeping in His day. When religious rulers accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath laws, Jesus boldly declared Himself the true “Lord of the Sabbath”.

27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mark 2:27-28 (ESV)

As New Testament believers, we are no longer subject to strict religious do’s and don’ts regarding Sabbath observance.

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”

Colossians 2:16 (NIV)

Jesus invited all who were weary to find soul-satisfying rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30).

The Apostle Paul emphasized that this spiritual rest also remains for God’s people to experience (Hebrews 4:9).

By regularly ceasing from our labor one day a week, we emulate our Creator and taste the eternal Sabbath rest that awaits us in glory (Hebrews 4:10).

9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”

Hebrews 4:9-10 (ESV)

Why is Sabbath Rest Important?

Why Is Sabbath Rest Important

We live in a society that rarely encourages rest. So why bother ceasing our activity for an entire 24 hours each week?

Wouldn’t it be easier to occasionally carve out a few hours here and there for leisure and recreation?

While occasional breaks are certainly helpful, regularly observing a complete Sabbath day offers profound benefits that brief periods of rest cannot provide.

Here are just a few reasons why practicing weekly Sabbath rest is so important:

  • It improves Physical Health: Taking a full 24-hour Sabbath each week allows your body time to restore depleted energy, repair cell damage, and build immunity against disease (Exodus 23:12).
  • It enhances Mental Health: Unplugging from work and technology for a full day curbs anxiety and depression, sharpens focus and creativity, and protects you against burnout and chronic stress (Isaiah 30:15).
  • It deepens Intimacy With God: Setting aside dedicated time to reflect, pray, study Scripture, and worship helps you to connect more deeply with God and understand His heart for you (Isaiah 58:13-14).
  • It strengthens Relationships: Spending extended time face-to-face with loved ones without the distraction of work or screens builds closeness, trust, better communication, and emotional health (Mark 3:4).

So in a culture obsessed with doing, we must rediscover the sacredness of simply being – something we were created for.

Observing Sabbath rest helps you to do exactly that as you rest in what God Himself has perfectly accomplished.

Rediscovering True Rest in a Chaotic World

Rest In A Busy World

Convinced of the benefits of Sabbath-keeping but overwhelmed at where to start? You’re not alone.

Rest assured – with some practical adjustments, even the busiest among us can begin implementing life-giving weekly rest.

Tips for Getting Started

If the idea of an entire tech-free, obligation-free day seems daunting, begin by starting small.

Try incorporating one or two of the following manageable first steps:

  • Take breaks throughout your week: Even short, periodic breaks to pause and breathe deeply prepare you for Sabbath rest.
  • Unplug from technology: Avoid screens during Friday evening dinner or Saturday breakfast. Focus on your loved ones.
  • Switch up routines: Do something out of the ordinary like visiting a park or trying a new hobby.
  • Single-task: Slow down by doing one activity at a time without multi-tasking or hurrying.
  • Enjoy nature: Take time to appreciate the wonder of God’s creation. Go for a long walk or have a picnic.
  • Journal or meditate: Quiet your soul through writing, prayer, or silent reflection.
  • Prepare ahead: Get chores and errands done beforehand so you can rest peacefully.

Gradually, you can length these Sabbath glimpses into half or full days. But don’t put pressure on yourself to do too much too quickly.

With practice, protecting Sabbath time gets easier. You’ll begin anticipating your weekly “stop day” as a gift rather than another item on your lengthy to-do list.

Before long, you may even wonder how you ever survived without this oasis of rest in your desert of busyness!

Overcoming Obstacles to Sabbath Keeping

Overcoming Obstacles To Sabbath Keeping

While explaining the importance of Sabbath rest may seem straightforward enough, actually living it out poses unique challenges in our productivity-obsessed world.

Common obstacles like time constraints, financial worries, workplace expectations, and even family responsibilities can make Sabbath observance feel unrealistic.

If we’re honest, we don’t want to stop our hurried pace for 24 uninterrupted hours or risk falling behind.

But as author A.J. Swoboda explains in his book Subversive Sabbath, Christ-followers are called to embrace an alternate rhythm – one that often contradicts conventional thinking:

“Sabbath is a protest – a holy protest where we proclaim with our lives that we belong not to the empire of production and consumption but to the God who rests.”

Thankfully, with some thoughtful preparation, even the busiest professionals and parents can increasingly incorporate life-breathing Sabbath rest amid deadlines and duties.

Consider the following tips:

  • Be proactive: Instead of passively waiting for the “perfect” conditions to magically appear, take the initiative to block off Sabbath hours on your calendar. Just like scheduling other important priorities, plan rest!
  • Involve others: Enlist your family, friends, or faith community to support your Sabbath commitment through accountability, childcare swaps, or modified expectations.
  • Start small: Attempting an entire tech-free day may not be realistic initially. Try a Sabbath morning or afternoon and gradually increase the duration. Each step matters!

At times you may still struggle to protect Sabbath space from other obligations. But with consistent effort, reliance on God’s strength, not your own limited power, and with the support of others, you can increasingly live counterculturally.

You don’t have to be defined by society’s distorted standard of worth. As beloved children of our Creator, we are invited simply to delight in being with Him (Isaiah 58:14) – not just doing for Him – through life-giving Sabbath celebration each week.

“Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Isaiah 58:14 (NKJV)

Making Sabbath Rest Meaningful

Making Sabbath Rest Meaningful

Carving out 24 hours every week for Sabbath rest takes considerable intention. So how can you get maximum benefit from setting aside an entire day for renewal?

Consider incorporating some of the following meaningful activities:

  • Worship: Attend church services or listen to worship music at home to reconnect spiritually.
  • Reflect: Find quiet space for Bible reading, prayer, journaling, or meditation on Scripture.
  • Fellowship: Spend quality time with family or friends without distractions. Enjoy games, nature walks, or deep conversation.
  • Recreate: Embrace hobbies that refresh you like gardening, reading, arts, crafts, or sports. Allow your creative side to flourish.
  • Serve: Volunteer with organizations addressing societal needs. Practice generosity by encouraging those who are struggling in life.
  • Rest: Take naps, linger over meals, go to bed early. Physically replenish your body through sleep and healthy food.
  • Delight: The Hebrew word, “Oneg” means to take pleasure in something. Delight in God’s presence and His good gifts!

Sabbath provides a weekly chance for your soul to catch up with your body through delightful rest in God alone – not what you can produce or accomplish for Him.

Benefits of Keeping Sabbath Rest

Benefits Of Keeping Sabbath Rest

Still struggling to consistently observe your much-needed weekly “stop day” amid never-ending demands?

Remind yourself often of the myriad benefits of Sabbath keeping!

1. Physical Health

Your physical body was designed to rhythmically alternate between activity and rest – about 8 hours of sleep and 16 hours of wakefulness daily.

Failure to integrate adequate rest stresses the body, weakens immunity, and increases the risk for disorders like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke over time.

But regularly resting on the seventh day nourishes the body and even lengthens lifespan according to various studies!

God created the Sabbath for our optimal functioning (Exodus 23:12), knowing we would thrive best by following His established patterns. We honor Him and ourselves by doing so!

2. Mental Health

In addition to bolstering physical health, intentional Sabbath-keeping improves mental health and cognition.

Uninterrupted rest curtails the release of stress hormones, thereby protecting nerve cell connections responsible for learning and memory. This is why ideas sometimes flow effortlessly after taking a shower or walk!

Additionally, activities like meditating on Scripture, enjoying nature, and absorbing inspirational reading often characterize Sabbath rest. All nourish creativity and mental renewal.

By regularly resting from your work or studies you’ll become more inspired and productive with renewed mental vigor!

3. Emotional Health

Our non-stop, tech-saturated world often distracts us from meaningful connections with God, self, and others. We can feel chronically dissatisfied, disconnected, and depleted emotionally.

But Sabbath provides a weekly oasis amid the desert of busyness – an opportunity to rediscover contentment, self-awareness, and intimacy with loved ones.

Judith Shulevitz notes in The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time:

“The Sabbath gives us permission to pause anxiously measuring our value …It is a day of loving ourselves for what we are.”

What better way to recharge emotional health than to rest in the reality of our beloved identity in Christ?

4. Spiritual Health

Most significantly, no other Sabbath benefit compares with meeting the “Bread of Life,” Jesus, in intimate communion.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 6:35 (ESV)

Setting aside regular distraction-free time to pray, study Scripture, worship, and serve rejuvenates your spirit like nothing else! You’ll reconnect with the true source of life and refreshment.

God also meets you in profound ways during extended Sabbath rest as you learn to delight in His presence above all else (Isaiah 58). There is simply no substitute for life lived in intimacy with our Creator!

5. In Summary…

Regular Sabbath-keeping powerfully transforms every dimension of your existence – physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

Instead of depending on your own strength and hustle, God invites you and me to regularly receive the rest He freely offers through grace.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

When we say “no” to busyness and “yes” to sacred rest, we become more of who God designed us to be – His beloved, fruitful children thriving in body, mind, and spirit!

Rediscovering Delight Through Sabbath

Rediscovering Delight Through Sabbath

Maintaining Sabbath rest amid busy schedules poses an ongoing challenge. But as 17th-century English Pastor Richard Baxter reminds us:

“This day must be sanctified. More hours must be kept holy, and bestowed in holy work than other days.”

You only deepen your delight in God as you increasingly sanctify – set apart as holy – your weekly day of rest.

Here are some ways to maintain your commitment to soul-nourishing Sabbath keeping that honors God and replenishes you:

1. Preparing For Delightful Rest

Instead of entering the Sabbath rushed and distracted, prepare your heart and schedule ahead to freely receive God’s gift of rest.

  • Complete Chores/Tasks: Tie up loose ends beforehand so you can peacefully unplug without distractions tugging at you.
  • Plan Ahead: Brainstorm meaningful ways to fill Sabbath hours based on your unique interests and needs.
  • Set Expectations: Communicate your desire to protect Sabbath time with family, friends, employers, or groups.

If you steward your schedule wisely, delightful rather than dreary or demanding rest awaits you! Position yourself to engage God’s presence and recharge.

2. Protecting Sacred Time

Despite best intentions, that emergency work email still arrives Friday afternoon threatening to sabotage your anticipated oasis. Protect your sacred weekly time with wisdom and grace through:

  • Healthy Boundaries: Politely ask others to respect your unavailable Sabbath hours except for true crises. Limit interactions.
  • Avoid Temptation: Proactively eliminate access to temptations like work devices or social media during designated rest times.
  • Refuse Guilt: Release false condemnation saying you “should” complete that task. God sanctions delightful rest!

Dallas Willard wrote in The Divine Conspiracy: “Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life.” Protect sacred space to feast on God’s presence without rushing.

When you say “no” to the tyranny of busyness, you are free to wholeheartedly say “yes” to treasured moments of connection with your Creator and those you love.

3. Enjoying The Moments

Once you’ve cleared time and refused distractions, the open hours before you may ironically spark performance-based thinking:

What’s the most productive way to spend this time? What activities are most “worthy” of Sabbath?

But the beauty of the Sabbath is ceasing the demand for accomplishment of any kind – even religious duties! – to simply receive and respond to God’s love, apart from works.

So breathe deeply. Release tension. Forget hurried timelines. As the ancient blessing says, the Sabbath is for delighting – not just doing!

  • Savor long meals or random conversations.
  • Rest when tired.
  • Pursue creative interests.
  • Absorb inspiring books.
  • Pray spontaneously when the Holy Spirit prompts you.

Let this day nourish your soul in ways daily life rarely affords.

God offers Sabbath rest as a weekly invitation back to the “garden of Eden” where face-to-face intimacy with Him satisfies your deepest heart’s longing.

Receive the gift by faith. Then watch delight slowly unfold.

Start Your Sabbath Celebration!

Start Your Sabbath Celebration

As the sunlight fades and the Sabbath arrives once more, intentionally shift your focus – even your posture – toward receptive rest.

Silence the inner drivenness echoing that there’s something more productive you could or should be doing.

Lay down this weight of false burden. Jesus, your true Sabbath rest, tenderly beckons,

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? … Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

As you inhale and exhale slowly, you’ll sense the anxiety and tension melt.

Yes, Lord. Thank you for work and calling, but I equally need rest and comfort.

Peace will flood your soul. It’s enough for now simply to be. Simply turn your gaze toward Heaven as the stars appear and hear the whispered promise in your spirit once more:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10(ESV)

The sacred gift of the Sabbath has begun. God is near, and that is all that matters now. You are His beloved – designed to thrive when following His healthy rhythms of work and rest.

Rejoice! Delight awaits you.


I pray this overview of the Sabbath – from biblical foundations to practical application – illuminated God’s perspective on sacred rest.

May we increasingly honor the Source of true life by setting aside the false burdens of busyness for 24 hours every week.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfecter of faith and giver of rest (Hebrews 12:2), we’ll rediscover the meaning of the Sabbath: Whirring anxiety replaced by worshipful awe.

Endless work eclipsed by intimate friendship. The cursed toil of Eden transformed through Christ’s finished work (John 19:30).

Delight awaits as we rest in Him. Shall we keep Sabbath together?

Frequently Asked Questions About Sabbath Rest

Q. What day of the week should I practice Sabbath rest?

A. Although Old Testament Sabbath observance occurred on the seventh day (Saturday), most modern Christians observe “the Lord’s day” in honor of Christ’s resurrection on Sunday.

Ultimately, consistency seems most helpful. Choose any day that allows optimal rest!

Q. How do I spend meaningful Sabbath time alone?

A. The Sabbath provides sacred space for neglected spiritual disciplines like Bible reading and prayer.

Also, incorporate rest and delight through naps, nature, music, journaling, or your hobbies and interests. Discover what nourishes your soul!

Q. How strictly should I interpret Sabbath “rules” about not working?

A. While complete cessation from work honors God’s Sabbath ideals, maintaining balance is key.

If you occasionally need to assist your family with chores, run essential errands, or finish work/school projects, don’t condemn yourself.

Progress, not perfection! But also set limits.

Q. What resources can help me understand the Sabbath better?

A. Many authors have written about restorative Sabbath keeping like Abraham Heschel, Walter Brueggemann, Judith Shulevitz, and A.J. Swoboda.

Try reading different perspectives to deepen your understanding!

Q. Why is technology use limited on Sabbath? How can I make that possible?

A. Although technology can enhance convenience and relationships at times, overuse breeds anxiety, comparison, distraction, and disconnectedness over time – the opposite of Sabbath peace.

Establish wise boundaries. Turn off notifications, temporarily delete apps, or set aside devices for certain Sabbath hours. Protect space to hear God’s voice over the digital clamor!

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