It is important to me as we get into this subject of rest, the need for the assumption that we all have a very good work ethic first. We all need to know how to work before we talk about resting. I said in the first sermon in this series: rest is a reward for those who work, not a right for lazy people. Alright? We should all be those who understand a good work ethic. We need to know how to work, work, work, work, work. That's something we all need to have a deep conviction about. Whatever your work is - if it's a vocation or a job, or you work around the home, or maybe you go to school and you're a full-time student -- whatever work you do, let me remind you, as a Christian you are called to be the best in your environment. You are called to absolutely crush it among your peers. The Bible says in Colossians 3:23: "whatever work you do, do it as unto the Lord, and not to humans." You might work for somebody else, but you work unto God. We understand that He is in fact our first priority. He is the one we are living for. Which means it's not just important when you work, but it's important how you work. Let me just mess with somebody's business a little bit. When you work - novel concept - you should actually be working. Okay? You shouldn't be trolling for social media. You shouldn't be online shopping, taking three hour lunch breaks with friends, or running errands. When we work, we work. We work as if our boss was watching us 24/7. Guess what? As a Chrsitain, your boss is watching you 24/7, and His name is Jesus Christ, and he's got eyes on you all the time. We are working unto Him. By honoring him, we honor those who employ us as well. It's important to me that we understand the good work ethic before we talk about rest. We've got to get work right before we talk about rest. I just had to get that off my chest. I know we have a lot of self-care obsessed millennials in this church and I just needed to make sure we -- I already dug a hole for myself before I even started. Let's all pray that Jesus opens our hearts after our pastor offended us, and then we'll get into this. Jesus, we love you and thank you for your word. I pray that you would speak to us today. Our hearts are open. We'd like to receive what you'd like to speak to us. This subject, which is so important to you, and so vast in scripture, I pray that you'd plant it not just in our heads but in our hearts. I pray that you'd convince us that this is for us, for our benefit. We love you. Speak to us today. In Jesus' name, Amen. I know it might seem odd to talk about the topic of rest in light of the current season we find ourselves in. It almost feels like the last 7 and a half months have been somewhat of a rest for many of us -- that forced Sabbath if you will, in light of all we've endured. But I think we find ourselves at a cultural moment right now where we finally have the opportunity to get this area of our spirituality right. We've gotten it wrong for so long. I think we have the chance to hit the restart button in the spirit, and to get this area right. Let me explain what I mean. As a culture, it is not a surprise that we idolize the idea of overworking. We love to work. We praise those who just grind it out day after day. We live a highly caffeinated, overworked, aggressive work life kind of existence. We have phrases like: "we burn the candle at both ends'' or "I'll sleep when I'm dead." We praise the #nodaysoff. We know what it feels like to work. We idolize that kind of lifestyle. Although that was more evident pre-Covid, I think it's starting to rear its head again. It's still resident in our DNA, and we're seeing it as people are going back to work right now or as communities and workspaces begin to begin to open back up. Some of you, maybe you've been on a forced rest for seven months but you're finally getting back to work. As you do, there's a temptation to get back into some old, unhealthy rhythms. To just work, work, work. If you're anything like me, we tend to overcorrect sometimes. Well, I've been off for the last seven and a half months, so I'm gonna work this week. I'm gonna go for it. If I'm gonna do this thing, I'm gonna do it. I remember when I first started going to the gym and working out, I had not worked out in 25 years so I was like "well, I gotta make up for 25 years of lost time." Let's go, I'm lifting all the weights in the gym today. I did like 500 bicep curls, because I'm like "hey, the curls get the girls and I want my wife to like me." I lifted way too much. The next morning I literally couldn't move my arms. I was stuck. I was like "thank God I'm a preacher. Still got the ability to do my job. But we tend to overcorrect sometimes. We know that something hasn't been good, so we just go to the complete other end of the spectrum. We let the pendulum swing all the way over. Maybe you're in that space right now. For others, maybe Covid has exposed a problem you already had before. You already had this predisposition to overwork. Maybe you're a first responder or in the medical field, and now there's all this extra overtime available because of the state of what's happening. So you're saying yes to the overtime and working like crazy. You're in over your head and you're like "I don't know how to say no." Or maybe you're the type that before Covid you had a good separation between your personal work life and your personal life because you'd actually get into a vehicle and you'd go to your workplace. But now that you're working from home, it's like this invasion on your personal space and you don't know how to turn one switch off and turn the other one on. Now work is everywhere. You can always go to your computer, you can always go to your email, there's always people asking. It used to be an eight hour workday, but now it feels like you can't turn off even in your own home. Even if your employer isn't saying they expect that out of you, it's definitely the culture that's praised in the workplace: the people who constantly work and never turn off. For fear of being the next person on the chopping block or the next department that's downsized you think "I have to keep up with my peers and keep working because I don't want to lose my job." Is this resonating with anyone? This is the world we live in right now. But let me warn you, and you probably already know this, because many have experienced it. There is a price to pay for that pace. There really is. There is a cost associated with that kind of a work life. It cost you your peace. It'll cost you your joy. It'll cost you your passion. For many, it's cost them their families. It's cost friendships. There's a price to pay if we're trying to run that kind of a race. But in His love for us, God has offered us a gift to redeem us from the rat race of that pace in our culture, and it's a very simple word: Sabbath. He has offered Sabbath to us as a rescue from this cultural climate where we just don't know how to stop. So let me give you a definition for this word, because it is a Bible word; it's a word we don't use very often in our culture. Sabbath means this in the Hebrew: to cease from your normal work, to desist and rest. Whatever you normally do, whatever your normal pace is: stop for a moment. Breathe deep. And rest. There's a rhythm to Sabbath. A rhythm that we should all have established in our lives. Here's the Sabbath rhythm: Work, Rest, Repeat. If you're under 30, you can slay, play, and then run it back. Whatever works better for you. Work, rest, repeat. That principle, that pattern, that rhythm is all throughout the Bible. Literally, Old Testament and New, it is replete through scripture. Work, Rest, Repeat.


Today, we're gonna look predominantly at the Old Testament, and what it says about this about this subject. But rest assured, we'll talk about the New Testament a little more next week. In the Old Testament, this concept of Sabbath -- this idea of work and then rest -- was literally introduced at the beginning of time. It was really introduced at the beginning of time. It was within the fabric of Creation. God worked for six days, He created everything we see, and then on the seventh day He rested. Look what it says in Genesis 2: "On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day He rested from all His work of creation." Right there, in the beginning of time, God establishes, He introduces this concept of Sabbath. But even though He introduced it at the beginning, He didn't actually instruct it or mandate it until later on in scripture. Fast forward to the Book of Exodus. Here's the backstory: the Israelites have been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. And as they are delivered from slavery, God says to them hey, I know what it was like to be a slave for 400 years. You worked seven days, 365 days a year, rain or shine. There was no rest for you. That's the life of a slave. But as a free person, I am offering you a new rhythm. As a free person who is not under the oppression of this regime of Egypt any longer, I'm offering you a gift. The gift is Sabbath rest. I'm giving you a Sabbath. By nature of your freedom, you are allowed to take a break. You don't have to run and run and run. You can breathe deep, and you can Sabbath. Listen, it's important that we understand this. It's important that we understand the origin of the Sabbath instruction to God's people. If we understand the origin, then we can actually wrap our heads around the importance of it. Here's why this is such an important concept: Work without rest is not success. It's slavery. Let that sink in for a moment. Work without rest is not success. It's slavery. God came to His people and said "you've been slaves for 400 years, and here's what the lifestyle of a slave looks like: you cannot stop. But as a free person, I am now giving you permission to rest. It's part of your new identity as a freed man and as a freed woman, that you are not being oppressed by your enemy any longer, not being oppressed by your employer, oppressed by whomever. You now have the freedom to rest. If you think it's success right now because you're working seven days a week and just can't turn it off, you are not succeeding. You are enslaved, my friend. You are being oppressed. I don't know if it's by your employer or by a broken mindset of your culture. Whatever it is, you are not a free person -- you are enslaved. God, in His love for His people and His love for us, introduces this new concept. Not a slavery ideology, but a free person's ability to rest. Here's the thing though: he didn't just leave it at concept. He didn't say I'm gonna introduce this new concept and enjoy it as you want. He went as far as to command it for His people. It's literally right there among the Big Ten. It's one of the Ten Commandments. To take the Sabbath.Which is an odd one, isn't it? Think about the Ten Commandments for a moment. They're mostly aggressive in nature. "I am the Lord your God," don't make any idols, don't lie, don't steal, and then kind of in there, by the way make sure you rest. It doesn't seem to fit the narrative of the other commandments. And then God puts it there. In fact not only does He put it there; it is the most exhaustive command among the ten. God says more about Sabbath than He does anything else in the Ten Commandments. Let me prove it to you. Look what he says in Exodus 20: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work. You, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and kept it holy." He bullet points almost all of the other commandments. "I'm the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods but me, you shall not make for yourself an idol," and then He puts all this content in here about Sabbath. It must've been a big deal to God. You only have so much real estate on stone tablets, right? There's only so much space to put stuff, and He dedicated that much space to Sabbath. Not only that, among the Ten Commandments, it's the only one He goes as far as to say you've got to keep this one holy. He could've said that about any one of the other nine. But this one He says you've got to keep it holy. You know what the word "holy" means? In Hebrew it means set apart. It means consecrated. Unpolluted by whatever culture, whatever existence you find yourself in. This one is set aside and it is not allowed to be touched. Keep the Sabbath holy. If God went as far as to highlight and make sure we kept it holy and gave us an exhaustive explanation about it, it makes me ask the question: why? Why did He spend so much time on this command? Now, I'm not God, so I don't know. Sorry to disappoint. But, I have a hunch. I think it's because this is the one we are most likely to break. I think this is the one that we have the hardest time with. God knew in our humanity that we were wired to work. We were wired to earn it. We were wired to go back to slavery in this area, and without realizing it, we put on those chains and we subject ourselves to the oppression of our enemy over and over again in this area. And so He does this elaborate job of reminding us how important it is to know how to rest. He said 'you guys gotta get this one right.' Now, permit me for a moment to go on a bit of a segue. A little rabbit trail if I could.I know that what I'm suggesting right now, the idea of commanded rest, is maybe messing with some theology. It's a theological conundrum for some people, because I know how many people approach the word of God and especially the Old Testament with this mindset that: this is the law, this is the Old Testament, so it doesn't matter anymore. Jesus, when He gave His life on the cross for us, and when He resurrected, He abolished the law - it's not a problem anymore. We don't have to worry about it anymore. We live in this new dispensation of Grace and that's an Old Covenant kind of thing. I know that exists in the room, and I know that there's probably people thinking that as they watch. Let me lean into that for a moment in case your head is there. What did Jesus actually say about the law? What did Jesus say specifically about the subject of Sabbath. We'll look at more New Testament next week, but for today, let's hear what Jesus says in Matthew 5: "Don't misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God's law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God's laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven." The reason I have that word commandment underlined is because that word is important. It gives us some framework for what Jesus is talking about right here. We're gonna go a little deep here. I'm gonna take you through a seminary class for just a moment. So just buckle up here. There are three layers of the law in the Old Testament. Theologians have agreed that the law can be broken up into three areas: 
  • Old Testament Law (Moral law. In it's Ten Commandments, reality, right and wrong.)
  • Civil Law
  • Ceremonial Law
 All of these being things that God told His people, the Israelites to do as they entered His presence. Rules and regulations for honoring him and for worshipping Him. Moral law, ceremonial law, and civil law. Jesus did in fact eliminate, obliterate the ceremonial and the civil laws about how we're supposed to approach God with his death on the cross. Proof of that is found when He breathes His last, the veil and the temple is torn in two. Once and for all declaring that not just the holy people can go into the presence of God, but anyone, no matter how jacked up you are or what your sin looks like. All of us have now been granted access by the blood of Jesus into the very presence of God. We don't have to worry about our track record, we can just come to Him unashamed in the middle of what we're walking through. How many are grateful today that you don't have to worry about following a bunch of rules? And going back to Leviticus and dousing yourself in lamb's blood just to come into the presence of Jesus. No, we can come as we are. Ceremonial, civil law, it's done with. However… Jesus did not once and for all get rid of moral law. The moral law still exists. Right and wrong still exists. We don't suddenly ignore the Ten Commandments because Jesus came. And I think we know that, right? Like, no one's going, "well I have Jesus, so I can kill some people now." No. No one thinks that. We still understand that that is wrong. So if the other nine commandments still serve to tell us how we should live our lives, why do we think that we can ignore this one? If the other nine commandments are still the framework whereby we establish our convictions, what is it about the fourth commandment that we just suddenly think "ehh, that one's probably not that important." Imagine if we treated Sabbath like we treat so many of the other commandments. "You know, it's's not make or break though. So what, I had a few affairs? So what ifI killed a few people? So what if I worship a couple of gods and I have an Asherah pole in my backyard." No one would suggest that! Because it's asinine -- it makes no sense. So perhaps we need to give a little bit more attention to the fourth commandment than we're giving it right now. Perhaps Sabbath is in fact a pretty big deal to God. And, if it is, then it's going to require us overcoming some barriers that our culture has thrown in front of us that keep us from keeping the Sabbath holy.


In our last couple of moments, let me give you a few barriers that I've noticed. Some things that keep people from truly stepping into Sabbath. I give you two quickly and then we'll dive into the last one a little bit more deeply. Here's a couple of barriers: Maybe some people think "eh, I just don't need it. I really don't need that kind of rest. I like this pace. I'm young. I don't have any kids right now. I can sleep when I'm dead. It'll be fun. I can run at this pace for a long time. I'm crushing it. It's the beginning of my career. I gotta get through these classes in school. This pace is okay for me. I hate to break it to you, but you're not a superhero, okay? You cannot handle it. If God needed a Sabbath, and if Jesus, God incarnate, honored the Sabbath when He was on this planet, you don't get to be better than Him. I'm sorry, that's just not how it works. Yes, you're still a weak human, I'm sorry to break it to you. And you probably need some rest. Here's another one, a more common one. A lot of other people don't truly enter into a Sabbath because they don't schedule it. They don't prioritize it. They fill their lives with a lot of other good things. Maybe you work five or six days a week, but isn't it amazing how quick the other days you don't work get filled up with obligations? You ever noticed that? What is it about our incessant need to just say yes to everybody? You say yes to those who want us to come help them on the weekend, or help them on our day off. We're just always saying yes. We don't know how to say no. Let's practice together: 1, 2, 3...NO! Doesn't that feel good? You can say no! It's okay. You know, the easiest way to say no? Uncle Tim's gonna give you a little tip today: put it in your schedule. Literally schedule a Sabbath. That way when somebody asks you to do something you don't want to do and doesn't bring you life, you can just say: "I'm sorry, I already have an appointment." And you aren't lying. It's in your schedule. "Hey Debby, can you help out at the PTA this Saturday?" Sorry, Debby has an appointment. "Hey Derek, can you help me move? I'll buy you pizza!" That's what people do to show us they really appreciate our help. I'm sorry, Derek already has an appointment. Isn't that nice? Let me debunk a lie that's in your head right now, because I had the same lie in my head. No one is going to ask what that appointment is. Alright? And if they do, you probably don't want that friend anyway. Think about it: You: "I have an appointment? Them: "What's more important than the PTA class?" You: "None of your freaking business! Leave me alone. I have an appointment, alright? It's my life - I'm gonna do me, you do you. It's that simple." It might feel dishonoring to them, but it's honoring the Sabbath. I've been doing that for fourteen years. Guess what? Nobody's asked me what my appointment was. Now some of you probably will if I tell you I have an appointment. But you know what I mean. Just put it in your schedule. Here's the biggest barrier that all of us face, and it's a barrier we have to overcome if we're gonna honor the Sabbath. The lie that many of us have bought into. Ready? If I sabbath, I won't have enough. If I truly take time off, I will not have enough. Fill in the blank. I won't have enough time to get all the work I need to get done. I won't have enough money if I don't work overtime to support the lifestyle that I've created for myself. I got a car I want to buy. Got a house I want to buy. Got some debt I need to pay off. If I don't do this, I'm not gonna have enough to pay that off and take that step. It falls into the same bucket. I won't have enough. Which is a logical thing to say: logically, if I work the extra hours, I get the extra hours and I have more time to accomplish what I need to accomplish. It's a logical thing to think. But let me remind you of something today, church: God is not logical. No, you don't serve a logical God. Your God is consistently illogical. He consistently asks you to do things that make absolutely no sense. Welcome to the life of faith. It involves occasionally stepping out onto the water. What? That doesn't make any sense. You serve a God that asks a little kid to give Him five loaves and two fishes so He can feed 15,000 people. You serve a God that looks at a widow and says 'give me the last of your oil and flour, and I'll provide everything you need for the years to come.' You serve a God who looks at people who are dead and buried in their grave and says: 'Lazarus, come up out of that grave. Blind eyes open. Deaf ears open.' He's not a logical God! So we cannot assume that this concept of Sabbath is gonna fit into our little logic box. It won't. It simply won't. Because listen, here is the illogical truth of Sabbath. A Sabbath rhythm will net supernatural provision. Back to Israel in the desert for a moment. Slaves get set free. They're out in the desert for a couple of days and then run out of food. They do what all mobs of people do -- they begin to complain to their leader and they want to kill him. Then they go to Moses and say 'what are we gonna do?' Moses is like 'I don't know, I don't have enough food.' So he goes and asks God. God gives them a very unique answer about how they should go about collecting their food. Look at what God says to His people in Exodus 15: "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Look, I'm going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow My instructions. On the sixth day, they're gonna gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual -- four quarts for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation. He told them, "This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow." God says 'I'm gonna make a deal with you guys. I'm gonna make a deal with my people, and here's the deal: if you'll honor the Sabbath and take a rest, if you'll breathe, I'm gonna give you seven days of provision for six days of work. I'm gonna give you more than you worked for. I know it's illogical, I know it doesn't make sense. But if you will simply honor me by resting and taking a deep breath, I'm gonna give you everything you need in fewer hours of work per week. That's a pretty amazing promise when you think about it. Think about that. God promises to you and I that if we will honor this, He will give us more than we work for. It's not based on you -- it's based on His truth. But like all of God's promises, guess what that requires? It requires some faith. It's a test, as He said to His people. Hey, if no one's ever presented it like this, let me be the first: Sabbath is a test of your faith. It's a test to see whether or not you truly trust God as your provider. It takes faith to believe that you're gonna be able to accomplish all that you need to accomplish in fewer hours than it's taking you currently. It takes faith to trust His word over your work. It takes faith to trust that He's gonna provide even though you haven't worked to get it. That is a step of faith. Because it's a step of faith, many of us never truly enter into that promise. We never enter into the rest that God speaks about in Hebrews chapter 4. We never enter into that provision from God. And many of us end up doing what the Israelites did in the desert. We go onto work, and we end up getting nothing in return. Look at what it says it the same book, in Exodus 16: Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day but they found no food. The Lord asked Moses, "How long will these people refuse to obey My commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord's gift to you. That is why He gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days." He sent them out and said 'work for six and rest on the seventh,' but they went out anyway on the seventh day and worked and what happened? They got nothing for their labor. Here's what they didn't realize, and here's what every single one of us needs to realize: A rejection of Sabbath is not only a rejection of rest, it's a rejection of supernatural provision. It's putting trust in yourself instead of trusting God. It's trusting that my labor is going to produce more than God's promise for my life. And by doing so, we forfeit this promise of His provision. They went out and they worked, but they got nothing. Sadly, not only did they not get what they came for, they didn't even get to rest. They lost two things by that one poor decision. They went out, put it in their hands and came home empty hands. Listen, when you try to do this on your own and when you do not honor this principle, the same thing happens over and over again. We think we're going to get more, but we get less. Less peace, less joy, less passion. It's not gonna work. I think it's time that we come to this gift that God has given to us, trust His word, and say "Jesus, if this is something you're offering to me, I'm gonna step into it. I know it's illogical and it doesn't make any sense, but I trust you for your provision, and I trust you for supernatural rest." Let Him do what He's promised to do. Listen, as a guy who did this fourteen years ago, let me tell you. If you will implement this in your world, you will never be the same. Your work will never be the same. Your home life will never be the same. It's an absolute game changer if we build this into our rhythms. To work, to rest, and then run it back. It's what we were created for. Let me tell you my story, and as I do the band can come up: Here's how it happened for me. Fourteen years ago, I was running a relatively successful business. It was the middle of the recession and stuff was kind of going crazy in the real estate market. But I'd been contracted out by a number of banks to sell their portfolio of bad assets. So I was selling a lot of foreclosure properties for banks. At the time, it was roughly 150 to 160 houses a year. So it was a lot. The banks usually opened at 9 a.m. their time, but most of them were on the east coast, so my workday started at 6 a.m. I'd get up out of bed and the first thing I'd do is get on the email. Phone would start ringing. I'd be on email. I'd be working all day long to manage these properties. I'd probably try to stop around 6 p.m. Twelve hour work days every single day. It was a lot of work in and of itself, but around that same time, my wife and I started to get really involved with our church. So I joined the worship team, which meant we had rehearsals on Tuesday nights. We started serving in youth ministry, which meant we were there on Wednesday nights with a bunch of teenagers. Thursday night there was a prayer meeting we were involved in. Friday night we had a small group that was meeting in our house, so we were there. Saturday night we did church. Sunday morning we did church all morning long for three services. The pastor had asked me at that time to join a group of guys he was training up for ministry, because he saw ministry on my life. And so after church we'd spend two or three hours and we'd study theology and teaching and communication. It was a very full life. Easily 70 to 80 to 90 hours of work every week. But if you had asked me at the time, I would've looked you straight in the eye and said: "I'm successful. This is what success looks like. To be in all these places all over the map. This is what the American Dream looks like. To be involved in all this stuff." But I was wiped. Everything was suffering. My sleep was suffering. My home life was suffering. But I thought it was a success. One day a pastor preached on this subject, Sabbath, this gift that God had given us to rest. At first I was apprehensive, because I was like "I don't know how that would work in my world right now. I know that feeling. If I shut off the phone, if I shut off the email, what's gonna happen? What if I lose the account, what if I lose the job, what if I don't make money? So I was freaking out about the whole thing. But I felt this draw from the Holy Spirit say 'just test me in this, just trust me.' So I did. We implemented this rhythm into our life. Once a week, the phone would shut off, the email wouldn't get checked, and we tried to focus on just resting. Which was hard at first, because when you've never done it, you don't know how to do it. You're like "I feel so agitated, I don't feel rested." We'll talk more about that next week. But I tell you what, as I built this into my life, I can't explain it. It doesn't compute. Again, it's illogical, it doesn't make sense. Somehow God supernaturally equipped us to do more work in less time. Suddenly God began to bless us more than I was blessed before. Our resources increased. Our time increased. Our peace increased. All because I built in this rhythm that He'd made available to me. I'd love to tell you "just do it!" but you really do just have to do it to experience it. There's no logical explanation for it. But I promise you, as you build this into your life, His promises are true. You'll see supernatural provision, and you'll see supernatural provision if you build this into your life. I've been doing it for fourteen years and He's never let me down.


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