Planning Your Sabbath Rest


This past week, we studied the relationship between the Bible’s teaching in Genesis 1-2 and the methods and findings of modern science. My prayer is that our study was helpful for us in two respects. One, that it was helpful for our believing scientists that they may enjoy and know God more because of their calling, and that they use their calling to draw many to Christ. And two, that our study enabled us to see why faith and science are unnecessarily pitted against one another. In turn, there is every reason that the core of the gospel, the Person and Work of Christ, may be discussed with the non-Christian once the brush is cleared of unwarranted conflicts between faith and science, rightly understood. 

Once we cleared that brush, we then looked at Genesis 2:1-4. The main idea in that passage is that God finished His work of creating and then began his eternal rest. And, at the same time, God began His work of sustaining. That eternal seventh day became a pattern for the people of God to build into their calendar week. I made a big deal of the fact that the Sabbath may be, in part, for our physical recuperation after a hard six days of labor, but the main thrust in the Bible is that we cease from working in order to honor the fact that God provides all that we need. Even our work week is a sign that God provides – our gifting, our opportunities, our intellect, our physical ability, our income. Sabbath gives soul rest because it reminds us to rest in the ultimate work of God, all week long. To that end, I think we should set aside a day every week, as much as possible, to take a Sabbath. So, here are a few suggestions for how to do that…

The Sabbath principle needs to be valued.

You will not really build your week around a Sabbath if you do not in fact value it as important. If you are struggling to do that, I would encourage you to stop and dwell in Scripture. You will not find a New Covenant command to keep a Sabbath in the same way Israel was commanded to in the Old Covenant, but you will find the importance of the church gathering on the Lord’s Day (the day of Jesus’s resurrection). I think the priority of gathering reflects that the early church still valued a principle of Sabbath, even though they lived in the eternal Sabbath age. 

The Sabbath should be our calendar pivot point.

Think about it this way – we move out of Sabbath into our mission and vocation and around Wednesday we crest a hill and start to roll back to the next Sabbath. Sabbath defines our week, and we hone that worldview by bookending and anchoring our calendar mindset with the Lord’s Day. Monday through Saturday is overshadowed by Sunday and so we consider our belonging to God, our mission, our piety, and our community in light of what we were reminded of on the Lord’s Day.

The Sabbath must be planned for.

If there is anything that the Thomas family has learned, with all the busyness and complexity of modern life, especially with four active kids, we must plan for a Sabbath. Now, my Sabbath is weird as a pastor. Sunday is my most intense day, so it is not fully a Sabbath. Though it is always a rich Lord’s Day as I gather with you, my church family, to worship Jesus, I nevertheless take Friday as a day set apart to rest in God. Either way, these days have to be planned for and preparations must be made. Put another way, an afterthought Sabbath is probably not going to really function as a Sabbath. To that end, I put want to put the following questions before you:

  • How do you plan Saturday, so you are not wiped by Sunday morning? 
  • Are you willing to make a habit of not staying up too late on Saturday nights? 
  • Can you do your best to arrange your works schedule to free up a day, Sunday if possible?
  • If you have to work on Sundays, can you set another full day aside and not just for play or errands but to have intentional time to reflect and rest in God?
  • Finally – and this goes for all of us but especially for those who have complicated mornings like young parents – will you be willing to wake up early enough to get ready for church without hurry, without frustration, with several details worked out the night before, in order to get to the doors of church with a prayed-over, calmed, prepared, and open heart and mind? 

I try and note patterns in people who are deep disciples of Jesus. One pattern I have found in all these men and women is that they value and are committed to the Sabbath principle and do their best to combine that with the Lord’s Day gathering of their local church.

Jay Thomas, Lead Pastor