It is excellent to get away and unwind for a few days. We all have observed the mental and physical benefits of taking time off from our jobs. I know it is important, but I still feel guilty when I step away from my daily responsibilities. This guilt is partly due to our culture. We derive some satisfaction from being busy and imagining that we are needed. If we are honest, it is a pride issue. I love to imagine I am more critical than I am.
Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
God instructed the ancient Israelites to take a day of rest. However, the indication is not merely a cessation from work, although that is effectively the case. In its first mention, the Sabbath day is a dedication to the Lord. The passage’s force is for the Israelites to understand the separation of the day. It has been made holy, sanctified, or set apart. Combining these thoughts, we recognize that God desires us to separate the day from other days.

This separation is not merely about time off from our daily responsibilities but a time devoted to God. By the first century, religious leaders understood this level of devotion and made observing the Sabbath a stringent practice. They were determined to enforce a code that restricted all unauthorized behaviors that could be considered “work.”
Jesus combats this during one pivotal conversation with the religious leaders of that day. In Mark’s account of the gospel, he relays this event to a Gentile audience, specifying the purpose of the Sabbath. This passage also gives us an indication of the purpose of all God’s laws.
Mark 2:27-28 – “And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Jesus’ words would have been striking for this crowd. In verse 28, he informed them that he is lord of the Ten Commandments, placing him on equal footing with God the Father. It is no wonder that Mark records that they want “to destroy him” (Mark 3:6). Just as striking for our culture, which prizes work, is that Jesus informs his followers that this ordinance was for their benefit. The Sabbath was not made for God. God did not need to rest, nor does our rest reward God. In the same vein, I was not made for rest, nor was the concept of rest made for me. It is the separateness of the day that was for our benefit. It is not the stoppage of work we need but a devotion toward God.
Observing the Sabbath required the complete restructuring of their society. They only had six days to work, prepare food, and conduct daily life. This required the Israelite people to be distinct and separate from the rest of the region around them. From its onset, Sabbath observance singled them out from every other people group, and this was for their benefit.
Our adherence to the Mosaic covenant no longer binds us. New Testament writers make this point evident; the Mosaic Law was just a shadow of things to come in Christ, and God nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-17). Without exception, every other commandment is relisted in the New Testament as crucial to our new life in Christ. Our devotion is no longer to a day of the week but to the Lordship of Christ. Our dedication to the Messiah is precisely what we observe as Jesus contends with the Pharisees in Mark 2. The Sabbath does not rule over me; Jesus is lord of the Sabbath, and I orchestrate my life regarding him.
It is good to get away, take a break, and relax, but I don’t restructure my life for that purpose. Some people only work for the weekend, yet that is a tireless cycle that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and empty. I do not live in such a way that my entire life is devoted to securing vacation time. I build my life on the Rock. My life is not centered on a particular day of the week; my life is rooted and founded on Jesus. And when Jesus is the center of your life, you have no reason to Escape.

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