[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Suffering Without Rest
Do you need a break? Are you feeling stressed, worn out, and overwhelmed? Let’s face it; we’re living in a world filled with ever-increasing demands on our time and attention. Children need to be fed, clothes washed, and bills paid. Commuting is stressful. And there’s on-the-job pressure, deadlines, and conflict. Many are working harder than ever, only to find it more difficult to make ends meet. And when they try to unwind, escapism often leads to addictions, anxiety, and more conflict. Our relationships suffer. Our health suffers. Real solutions seem beyond our reach.
If you’re suffering from the anxiety of living in the modern world, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18.1% of the population 18 or older suffers from some type of anxiety disorder every year. That’s 40 million adults (“Facts and Statistics,” ADAA.org, accessed June 29, 2021).
But it’s not just in America. According to the “Our World In Data” website, “Globally an estimated 284 million people experienced an anxiety disorder in 2017” (“Mental Health,” OurWorldInData.org, April, 2018).
Clearly, many of us are feeling overwhelmed.
Is this how our Creator designed our life to be? If we’re anxious and depressed, how can we get out of that discouraging and even dangerous cycle?
There is an answer. And people around the world are discovering it. Would you like to know a secret that can turn your life around?
There is a way to find peace in a troubled world. And today on Tomorrow’s World, we’re going to dive into that topic, to find the source of that peace.
Do You Need Rest Days?
Welcome to Tomorrow’s World, where we help you make sense of your world through the pages of the Bible. Many of us today are exhausted and overwhelmed. We need a break. But where can you find the real solution to the frenetic lifestyle of our world? Let’s talk about that today.
In a recent online article, speaker and writer Jim Burns asked the following questions:
Have you stopped enjoying life because you are too busy?
Are you exhausted most of the time?
Have you stopped developing new relationships?
Are your children showing signs of stress?
Mr. Burns then added, “If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, you are experiencing overload” (“Are You Experiencing the Overload Syndrome?” HomeWord.com, June 21, 2021).
Does that describe your life right now? It does for many of us. But more and more people are turning to what might seem to be an unlikely solution. They are turning to the idea of a “sabbath.”
Do an Internet search and you’ll find out what I mean. Type in “Sabbath rest” or “Sabbath lifestyle” and you’ll discover pages of articles with advice for gaining peace and perspective, through this idea of “sabbath.” Here are some of the article titles I found in one Internet search:
“The gift of sabbath rest in an anxious age”
“How to Unleash the Power of Sabbath-Rest in your Life”
“Creating a Sabbath Lifestyle”
“How to Create a Sabbath-Simplicity Lifestyle”
“The Case for the Sabbath, Even if You’re Not Religious”
What all these articles have in common are a deep yearning to pause from the busyness of the modern world. More and more people are finding this idea of a sabbath intriguing.
Once again, writer and speaker Jim Burns puts it this way:
“In the beautiful Hebrew language, the word for rest is sabbath. Sabbath is more of a lifestyle choice than taking a nap or a day off to get some things done around the house. Sabbath living is the constant choice to live with margin in our lives. Margin is the space between our load and our limits. Margin is our mental, emotional, and spiritual strength. It’s our reserves, our breathing room, our energy, our vitality. Unfortunately, few of us have much margin in our lives” (“Are You Experiencing the Overload Syndrome?” HomeWord.com, June 21, 2021).
This concept of “margin” is powerful, and very important. We do need “margin” in our lives. It’s the so-called white space on the edge of the pages of our lives. It means that not every moment is busy and accounted for.
So do you need a “sabbath” rest in your life? Do you need to cultivate a “sabbath lifestyle”? I think we can all see the benefit of down-shifting. We need time to slow down, instead of always working hard and playing hard. Wouldn’t it be nice to power-down occasionally, to a lower and slower gear?
One of the prime culprits of our stressed-out society is the pervasiveness of tech devices. Our devices can be helpful, but they can also become the source of great stress. A group back in 2003 started something called the “sabbath project.” One of the things they do each year is determine a “National Day of Unplugging.” The idea is, one of the things we must do is occasionally take a break from technology. They recommend having a “tech sabbath,” so to speak. And it’s true—we’ve got to unplug, from time to time. It’s good for our minds, our relationships, and our health. Consider the testimony of one family, an article that appeared on the Wired.com website:
“My family and I started going completely screen-free one day a week for what we called our Technology Shabbat. We read, journaled, cooked, had friends over, went for bike rides, played music, made art, and sometimes we just did nothing. A decade later, we’re still doing it every week… and it’s still our favorite day. It’s made the whole family happier and more balanced” (“Everything You Need to Enjoy One Tech-Free Day a Week,” Wired.com, October 10, 2019).
If we don’t have control of our devices, we’re headed for trouble. And this affects everyone. Here’s how one woman described her experience fighting against the tyranny of endless tasks, and how she began to find solutions:
“So many of us are tired. Between meeting the needs of those around us, running our homes, working, or waking up with children throughout the night, we find ourselves depleted mentally, physically and emotionally. This exhaustion leads us to turn our focus from the things that matter most to survival. If that’s you, God has prepared a very practical balm for your weariness. It’s called Sabbath…. If we want to experience all the fulness of living and being that God has for us, I believe we need an element of Sabbath rest in our week! Whether mothers, homemakers or working women—Sabbath was created to meet a deep-seated need in us” (“How to Unleash the Power of Sabbath Rest in Your Life as a Homemaker,” EmbracingASimplerLife.com, Accessed June 29, 2021).
We all need to see the value of resting, of having a sort of pause in our lives. We need a regular, weekly time to pause, just to keep a balanced mental perspective.
But you might say, “that all sounds well and good, but I’m too busy to stop. I have too much to do. This sabbath thing won’t work for me.” Think about that. It’s when you are overwhelmed when you need this help the most. And if you don’t get control of your life now, when will you?
What is the Original Day of Sabbath?
We all need to find some space in our lives. And people all over the world are discovering the benefits from having some downtime every week. Maybe you’ve taken this step and are experiencing new-found peace in your life.
The idea of a sabbath didn’t just appear out of thin air. It comes from the Hebrew word “shabbat,” in the Hebrew Scriptures, in our Bible. It means “to stop, pause, or cease.” It’s a rest from activity and labor.
If you have a Bible, turn with me to the very first chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 1, we find the account of God creating all the living creatures on earth, including the first man and woman. And then in Genesis 2:1, it says,
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1–3).
Where did this idea of taking some time to rest after a period of work come from? Straight from the Creator God. He modeled that behavior right here in the beginning of the Bible. It happened at the dawn of civilization. In other words, the idea of “sabbath” has been around a long time.
But what about the word “sabbath”? The first time that word appears in the Bible is Exodus 20:8:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
“Sabbath” just means “cessation” or “rest.” So, “remember the sabbath day” just means “remember the rest day.” This is something God wrote into the Ten Commandments. Let’s read the rest of it, back in Exodus 20:
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…. 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 hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8–11).
So, God actually created a rest day at the beginning of Creation. He rested and His intention was that His children—that’s us—would also benefit from a weekly rest our whole lives. God wants us to work hard. And when the work is done, He wants us to take a well-deserved rest.
“Sabbath” is not just a vague idea. It springs from a specific event in history. It was created by God, at the beginning. And it applies to a specific day each week. We all need to be restored and rejuvenated. But why don’t we give ourselves permission to take a break?
Consider what one Internet author said about this question:
For some reason, though, we naturally interpret the Bible’s statements about Sabbath rest as more of a suggestion than a divine command. We think, “That’s a great idea, but I’m too busy.” This is true. I am busy. You are busy. Our culture is busy and it’s only speeding up… Our gas tanks are always on empty, and when we stop we are hardly ever able to put more than a few dollars in the tank. We are never full (“Ritchie: The gift of Sabbath rest in an anxious age,” Amarillo.com, June 2, 2016).
Think about that. We’re too busy to stop. We’re forever locked into a loop of exhaustion, never catching up. Are you tired of that cycle?
The writer continues:
But could it be that our lack of observance of the Sabbath is contributing to our weariness? Could our lack of Sabbath rest and worship potentially explain why we are an exhausted people? Could it be the ways we try to find rest never restore us because we were created to find our rest in God?… What better gift could we possibly receive than this Sabbath rest in our anxious age?
How many of us go from one frenetic task to another, until we collapse? Why don’t we just rest on a regular basis, on the schedule God set for us?
All too often, we don’t stop until we have to stop. And maybe that’s why God tells us, “This is mandatory—you have to take a break each week.” Because there’s always another load of wash to do, another space to clean, another report to submit.
Have you noticed, all too often, we only do things that are good for us when we have to? Maybe we don’t exercise or take care of our health, until something causes us pain. We notice the effects of neglecting our health, and we decide, “Okay, I have to do this because it’s good for me.”
So, what about you? Wouldn’t it make sense for God to say, “Look, this is so important for you. I want you to have a healthy mental state. So, I’m telling you, you must take a break at the end of every week.”
The Sabbath Was Made for Our Good!
God in His mercy created and even scheduled that time for us. And since we often don’t do things unless we absolutely have to, He made it mandatory. And that’s good for us.
In the remaining time of this program, we’ll find there’s an even greater picture in regard to a sabbath rest.
Turn in your Bible to Colossians 2:16. In this verse, Paul wrote the following:
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:16).
There’s much misunderstanding about this verse. Let’s just focus on one phrase. That is, “Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come.”
What the Apostle Paul is saying is that as good as sabbaths are for giving us a weekly rest now, they’re also symbolic of something greater to come. Many students of the Bible recognize there have been roughly 6,000 years of human history, and that the Bible predicts a coming 1,000-year millennial reign of Jesus Christ. If we apply the “day for a year” principle found in 2 Peter 3:8, the weekly seventh-day sabbath is a type of the coming millennium. In that sense, the seventh millennium corresponds to the seventh day of the week.
We find Scriptures that support this idea elsewhere in the New Testament. Let’s look at Hebrews 4:1:
“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
He’s saying, the Israelites did not enter the Promised Land because of their disobedience. But we can enter God’s Kingdom, at Christ’s Second Coming, if we’re faithful and obedient.
“For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’” (Hebrews 4:4).
He’s discussing the seventh-day sabbath established at the Creation when God rested.
“Since, then, it remains for some to enter His rest, and since those who formerly heard the good news did not enter because of their disobedience, God again designated a certain day as ‘Today,’ when a long time later He spoke through David as was just stated: ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God’” (Hebrews 4:6–9, Berean Study Bible).
What does this mean? If we’re the people of God, the sabbath rest means something very important. It means we observe that weekly rest in our lives NOW. The Greek word here translated “sabbath” is “sabbatizmos.” It comes directly from the Hebrew word “shabbat,” which means the weekly Sabbath. Christians are to observe the weekly sabbath.
But it goes far beyond that. If the Sabbaths are a shadow of things to come, every seventh-day that comes around in the calendar is also a prophecy of a coming millennial Sabbath. That’s when God’s Kingdom will reign on this earth, at Christ’s second coming.
Notice what the writer warns us to do:
“For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:10–11, Berean Study Bible).
We’re reminded to live our lives in such a way that we may enter the rest of God’s Kingdom, at Christ’s return.
In other words, there’s hope for this tired and worn-out world. There’s a new world coming. And that new world, in contrast to this age, will be peaceful and full of hope. The violence and tension of this age will be no more. Notice how that coming world is described in Isaiah 32:16–18:
“Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places….”
The weekly seventh-day sabbath is symbolic of a coming millennial age of peace and prosperity.
There’s much more to say about the Sabbath. You can find many articles and programs about the Sabbath on our Tomorrow’s World website. What we’re focusing on today is the necessity of a break for people in this world. There is a better way. But in truth, we need not just a general idea of a pause in our life; we need the regular and mandatory rest designed by our Creator.
The True Purpose of the Sabbath—In This Life and Beyond
When Jesus was on this earth, He taught His disciples a lifestyle of peace and tranquility that did not depend on outside circumstances. Notice what He said in Matthew 11:28:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
If you long for relief from the burdens of life, learn from Jesus Christ. He has the answers. He’ll give you peace, if you’re obedient to His will and respond to His love.
In this world, there are many things to worry about. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25:
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:25–27).
He knows we’re working hard, because we have to. We’ve got to feed ourselves. We’ve got to take care of our family. And He says, “I’ll help you, if you look to Me.”
And notice what else He says, in Matthew 6:33–34:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
We can have peace of mind. God knows the anxiety this world produces. But He’s offering you a weekly sabbath. It’s a total break from work for a 24-hour period, week in and week out. Doesn’t that sound nice? Just imagine if every Friday at sundown you could leave your work behind. You could spend extra time with your family. You could read the Bible and meditate on God’s plan for you. You could go to church the next day with others of like mind, and fellowship with them. You could spend the remaining hours of the Sabbath not mowing the lawn or doing chores, but going for walks and reflecting on what you’ve learned.
That’s the way God designed the Sabbath. Not the way the Pharisees kept it, making it a burden. Jesus corrected the Pharisees on how they were keeping the Sabbath, as we see in Mark 2:23:
“Now it happened that He went through the grainfields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, ‘Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?’” (Mark 2:23–24).
The Pharisees were trying to accuse Jesus and his disciples on how they were keeping the sabbath, but Jesus turned it around and explained the true perspective about the sabbath in verse 25.
“But He said to them, ‘Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him: how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat, except for the priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?’ And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:25–28).
The Pharisees had accused Jesus Christ and his disciples of keeping the Sabbath in the wrong way, but Jesus described the true perspective about the Sabbath. He is the Lord of the Sabbath, He created the Sabbath. He designed the Sabbath as a 24-hour period to throttle back and think about your life. The gift is yours for the taking.
So, do you need a break? Do you need some rest? The Sabbath isn’t just an idea of snatching some down time now and then. It’s a weekly gift from God, to refresh us and give us peace. And it’s a promise of a better world to come. The Sabbath is a gift God has given to an anxious world. Experience that gift for yourself.
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