I suspect many of believers today are convinced that Sabbath still means something but have no idea what it is. You take the Bible seriously, you sincerely want to follow and obey God, but in this particular instance you have no idea how to begin, what to do or what not to do. What can we learn from Jeremiah about Sabbath?
Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war. As the Assyrians began to lose their power, Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave. In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah. His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.
- 17:19-20 – Introduction
- 17:21-23 – a proclamation of the law
- 17:24-27 – the promises of blessing for obedient and punishment for the disobedient
- The Lord tells Jeremiah to stand in the public gates and deliver this message to all the inhabitants of Judah.
- The word of the Lord interrupts their daily life.
- Jeremiah begins this message with the solemn warning “Take care for the sake of your lives.” This message is a life or death matter.
- As you conducted your daily business, you would walk through the city gates carrying wares and purchases.
- The word “Sabbath” comes from the word “to stop” and the basic meaning is to stop and set apart. It is related to the word for “seven” which signifies completeness.
- The open and defiant breach of one of the covenant demands (in this case the Sabbath) is symptomatic of a rejection of the covenant as a whole.
- The throne of David, the temple and the city of Jerusalem comprise the basic symbols of national and religious life for the people of Jeremiah’s day.
- Covenant blessing is pictured as the people living under their own Davidic king and worshiping the Lord in His temple in Jerusalem.
- The consequences of disobedience is pictured as an unquenchable fire will would consume the temple, the throne and the city.
- Every 7th year the people were suppose to give the land a rest. 2 Chronicles 36:15-21 tells us the exile enforced a 70 year Sabbath rest for the land.
Why is Sabbath so important?
- Sabbath is the fourth of the ten commandments
- Exodus 20:8-11 explains that we rest to remember that God’s work in creating us is done.
- Exodus 31:12-17 teaches that Sabbath is a sign of the covenant. Keeping the Sabbath identified you as a member of the Lord’s chosen covenant people.
- Deuteronomy 5:12-15 teaches that we rest to remember that God redeemed us.
- Sabbath is a practical way to remember your dependence on God.
- Sabbath is more than leisure and what you do on the outside; it’s about who you trust on the inside.
- Take a break: Stop doing your work (the activity that sustains your life) and focus on relating to God.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”- Psalm 46:10
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered
Resources: Jeremiah Resources
Further study: Sabbath: Why, how and when
Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.