No. 132. Thanksgiving to God for giving mankind rest.

Colours of the Rainbow > Thanksgiving > No. 132. Thanksgiving to God for giving mankind rest.

The first thing that we read in the bible is the story of creation. We see that God created man on day six, and ‘By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And 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 2:2.

So mankind began life with a day of rest. The day God blessed and declared to be Holy. This must have been a wonderful day for Adam and Eve to discover the world in which they had been placed, but even more to discover as much as they could about their wonderful creator. It must have been an extremely joyful day for God and man, no sin had crept in as yet, so their fellowship must have been joyful and sweet, just the way God had intended for it to be.

This creation ordinance was enshrined in the Ten Commandments given to Moses. It was number four on the list, marking the transition from the first three which were primarily about loving God, our relationship with heaven, and the last six which dealt with mans relationship with his fellow man on the earth. The Sabbath rest day is I believe pivotal. It is about having that time to enjoy God and find spiritual refreshment in His presence, and in addition it is about finding physical refreshment, so that we can do life well with, and for, our fellow men.

The Sabbath became a very important part of the lives of God’s people, even throughout the wilderness, they were miraculously provided with two days manna on the day before the Sabbath so that they didn’t have to go looking for food on the Sabbath day itself. The miracle being that even though it was kept overnight it didn’t go mouldy on the night before Sabbath, as it did on other days when they tried to collect and store it for two days in a row.

God’s plan was that this Sabbath day would be one of joy and delight in Him, and for some of their history His people managed this. Clearly expressing this joy the psalmist writes of ‘proclaiming His love in the morning and His faithfulness at night’, Psalm 92, A song written for the Sabbath day.  Sadly however it didn’t always work out that way and it was one of the things that the prophet Isaiah had to remind the people about.

The Lord said through Him, ‘If you keep from doing as you please on My Holy Day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride upon the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob’. Isaiah 58:13,14. There is clearly a blessing attached to doing this God’s way.

Now we know that the Pharisees turned what was meant to be a blessing into quite a burdensome thing. They used their strict interpretation of what ‘resting’ on the Sabbath meant, to control people. Jesus who never controlled anyone confronted this, as He did most of their legalism saying, when they challenged Him about letting His disciples pick and eat grains of corn on the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath”. Mark 2:27.

Christian legalism has, even in our day, been a problem for us when it comes to really appreciating what a wonderful gift God has given us in this creation ordinance. Some of us can remember when children’s swings were tied up on a Sunday lest people should ‘profane’ the Sabbath by letting their children play on that day. And because we don’t want to be legalistic, we can swing the other way and forget that this is a gift that God has given us, for our health and wellbeing, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

When the children of Israel were in the wilderness and some of them didn’t have the faith to collect enough manna the day before Sabbath, they found that when they went out on the Sabbath there was no manna! Moses response was a good one for our day too. He said “Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day He gives you bread for two days”…. ‘so the people rested on the seventh day.’ Exodus 16:29,30. The Sabbath, he reminded them, is a gift not just a duty.

I believe if we will plan into our lives a day of Sabbath rest each week in order to find spiritual and physical refreshment, we will find it a great blessing. It will take some faith for some of us to believe that the Lord will enable us to do all that we need to do on the other six days, and this is where our thanksgiving will help us. If we see keeping one day of rest a week as a law and a duty, it will become a burden to us rather than the delight that Isaiah talked of. But if we see it as the wonderful gift that it is, and approach it with thanksgiving, we will find that our wonderfully creative friend and helper, the Holy Spirit, will lead us into six days of productivity and a significantly healthier lifestyle.


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