Have you ever been attacked by the Minecraft phantom?
In the video game Minecraft, each player must go back to his bed every so often to rest. Don’t get distracted by building high mountain bases and skyscrapers, or by digging deep into the game’s cavernous depths. If you do, and you forget to sleep, a mob of enemies will come after you at night!
Making your Minecraft avatar need sleep was a brilliant choice by the game’s designers. After all, we all need rest! If we never stop and put our weary bodies to bed, we stop functioning well, and we’ll eventually go crazy and die.
God doesn’t stop at telling his people to sleep at night. He tells them to set aside an entire day for Sabbath.
But rest isn’t only an essential for life. It’s God’s instruction to his people in the fourth commandment. God is more thorough than the Minecraft designers. He doesn’t stop at telling his people to sleep at night—he tells them to set aside an entire day for Sabbath. There are two big reasons why. God wanted Israel to stop each week to remember both his rest and their rescue.
Remember God’s Rest
One of the places God commands his people to keep the Sabbath is Exodus 20:8–11. This passage says,
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. . . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.
God created the world in six days, and then he stopped on the seventh. God doesn’t need to rest. He doesn’t get tired or wear out as we do. But God did rest on the seventh day. He stopped as an example for us to follow. God designed people so that we get tired and need sleep; he modeled how we’re to rest. Then, he even made a day for it.
Stopping to keep the Sabbath teaches us we’re not God. As Adele Calhoun explains,
When you get indignant over how seemingly incompatible Sabbath is with the tiring and relentless demands already facing you, consider what your tiredness means. Animals don’t think about how tired they are. And they don’t have a Sabbath they set aside for rest. It’s humans who recognize the difference between work and rest. The fact that we make distinctions . . . is an indication we need to do both.
God made us for Sabbath because he wants us to stop, follow his pattern, and remember we are creatures who depend on him (Ps. 127:2).
Remember Your Rescue
We find a second reason to keep the Sabbath in Deuteronomy 5:12–15. Here God emphasizes the need for the whole Israelite community to rest: “that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you” (v. 14). There’s no class distinction because everyone in the community was once a slave. On the Sabbath, the whole nation stopped to commemorate this truth. As verse 15 prescribed, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”
Here God tells all Israel to set aside a day to worship and remember how he’d rescued the nation. They did not save themselves. No, God brought the community out of Egypt through a great display of his might and power.
As Christians, we too set aside a day for corporate worship and renewal. From the earliest days of the Christian church, Jesus’s disciples met together on the first day of the week. Sunday was the day Jesus was raised from the dead. So, every Lord’s Day we remember and celebrate our salvation.
God designed the Sabbath so we experience joy and renewal in communion with his people.
We were slaves to sin, but Jesus rescued us through his obedient life, substitutionary death, and victorious resurrection. We celebrate these salvation realities with the whole Christian church because God designed the Sabbath so we experience joy and renewal in communion with his people.
Sure Paths to Renewal
Are you experiencing rest and joy?
If you’ve found yourself harried and persecuted by Minecraft enemies, there’s a sure way to find deliverance. Direct your avatar to its bed. Build one if you have to. Find your place to rest, and go to sleep!
If you’re waiting to rest until you’ve finished your project, zeroed your inbox, and checked every voicemail, if you’re weary and harried by deadlines and joyless burnout, there’s an equally sure way for you to find deliverance as well. Stop, rest, and remember. Don’t search for manna on the day God provided better (Ex. 16:27–30). When the workweek is over, turn off your computer, set down your tools, and gather with God’s people. Remember his rest and your rescue, and let the Lord of the Sabbath renew your body, mind, and heart (Mark 2:23–28).