Bible Verse: Exodus 20:8-11 ESV
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.
11 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”.
In the Book of Exodus, as the people waited in the desert, the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments. The Fourth Commandment was that we should keep the Sabbath Day holy, and God explains that He created the whole of creation in six days and on the seventh day, He rested. The word Sabbath derives from the Hebrew word shabbat, which means to rest from labour. This was not just a Commandment from God but a gift to His people. It was the first time in history that a civilization had ever given ordinary, working people an official regular day off from their labours.
The gift of Sabbath was truly a unique and unprecedented gift, reminding the Israelites that they were no longer the slaves of Pharaoh, working in his service and at his convenience. Nor were their lives defined by making bricks any longer. The Sabbath forged a new identity for them as a free people, liberated and loved by God. The gift of Sabbath forms a new identity for us as well, reminding us that we are not slaves either. Our lives are not defined by our ability to produce or succeed. Our value as individuals is already established by the fact that we are loved by our Father in heaven. We have infinite worth not because of what we do or say, but simply because we are God’s sons and daughters. He gave us life, and therefore we have worth, we have value, we are precious.
In my career as a project manager, I was responsible for executing contracts worth millions of dollars. My project team colleagues and our clients all relied on me to guide these projects to successful conclusions, and I felt that weight on my shoulders constantly. I always felt like I had be “the guy”. The guy that planned the work, hired the team, managed the risks, solved the problems, and all the other activities that go into successful projects. It was interesting, exciting, challenging, but ultimately exhausting work.
It wasn’t until I came to know the Lord that I began to have a sense that God was saying: ‘You don’t need to be “the guy”. You just need to be the son.’” I was caught off-guard by this dawning understanding that I didn’t need to be successful in the worldly sense to know that I had worth. I still had responsibility for the actions of my team and the work to be accomplished, but I didn’t need to wrap my self-identity in what the things I did. I had value just because God created me, loved me and provided for me. I felt an enormous burden lift off my shoulders, and tears came to my eyes.
Have you ever felt that you need to be the go-to guy or the go-to girl, because God has a different view of you. In His view all need to be is His son. All you need to be His daughter. When we remember that we are loved by our Creator before we do or say a single thing, simply because we exist, because we are breathing, we are liberated from our enslavement to the works of this world.
As we embrace the gift of Sabbath, we remember that we are human beings, beloved sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty, rather than human doings, slaves of a harsh taskmaster. As we live into our identity as beloved children of a liberating God, we will learn to accept our limitations, our strengths and weaknesses, and become comfortable with who we are, who He created us to be.
Praise be our merciful and mighty Father God!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.