"Made on Purpose: We Were Made for Rest"
by Pastor Michael Eckelkamp
If your group has more than 7 people, you're encouraged to split into men's and women's groups for "Warm Ups" and "Getting Started." If your group is really large, try same gender groups of 3 or 4.
Warm-Ups (15 min)
1. Share your high moment and low moment of the week.
2 Do you have any God moments to share from this past week?
3. Share with your group what your idea of a great “day-off” would be.” Use the list below to select one or more activities.
My idea of a great “day off” would be…
- reading a good book
- getting some extra sleep
- spending time with family
- walking or hiking—alone or with someone I like
- going shopping
- watching sports—on TV or at the game
- eating a meal with friends
- playing my favorite sport
- going to the movies or a concert
- other: ________________
Getting Started (20 min)
- What do you remember from childhood about Sunday activities?
- What does Sunday look like in your household today?
Read aloud following quotes about the meaning of Sabbath.
1.Keeping Sabbath offers us the God-given gift of rest. It allows us time to look at ourselves and at our lives apart from the everyday world. 2.More important, it offers extended time and space to give thanks and praise to God for the many gifts in our lives. (Living Well book)
Going Further (40 min)
1. John Piper wrote a devotional classic on the Sabbath. The following 5 comments are based on this devotional.
At least five things in these verses need special comment.
- Remembering - First, Israel is to remember the rest day. Sabbath means rest. "Remember the sabbath day," means, "Don't forget to take a day off."
- Keeping It Holy - Second, "Keep it holy," means set it aside from all other days as special. Specifically, as verse 10 says, keep it "to the Lord," or "for the Lord." In other words, the rest is not to be aimless rest, but God-centered rest. Attention is to be directed to God in a way that is more concentrated and steady than on ordinary days. Keep the day holy by keeping the focus on the holy God.
- One Out of Every Seven - Third, the holy rest day should be one out of every seven. Verse 9: "Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God." Work six, rest one. Work six, rest one. That's the pattern prescribed in the Ten Commandments. Note it does not say that the sabbath ("rest day") has to be the last day of the week or the first day of the week. The concept of weeks is not even mentioned. The command is simply work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a sabbath.
- No Fudging - Fourth, no fudging on the commandment by saying, "Well, I will keep it, but I will put my maid to work, or set my ox to threshing with a carrot in front of his nose at 6 PM the evening of the sabbath so that it will thresh the grain all day while I rest." God says, No. You miss the point if you try to keep the business running by using servants or animals or relatives. What point?
- God's Rest After Creation - Fifth, verse 11 leads us to the basic point of the commandment. It is based on God's rest after creation: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."
And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation.
God's RestThe reason given in both Genesis 2:3 and Exodus 20:11 why God blessed and hallowed the seventh day is that "on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." What does it mean that God rested? It means at least that he was satisfied that his work of creation was complete and was "very good." His rest means that he wanted to now stand back as it were in leisure and savor the beauty and completeness of his creative work.
This is the real basis of his hallowing and blessing the day of rest. He is saying in effect, "Let my highest creature, the one in my image, stop every seven days and commemorate with me the fact that I am the creator who has done all this. Let him stop working and focus on me, that I am the source of all that he has. I am the fountain of blessing. I have made the very hands and mind with which he works. Let one day out of seven demonstrate that all land and all animals and all raw materials and all breath and strength and thought and emotion and everything come from me. Let man look to me in leisure one day out of seven for the blessing that is so elusive in the affairs of this world."
The beautiful thing about the sabbath is that God instituted it as a weekly reminder of two things. One is that all true blessing comes from his grace, not our labor. The other is that we hallow him and honor him and keep the day holy if we seek the fullness of his blessing by giving our special attention to him on that day.
God as the Source of SalvationIt would be a mistake to conclude from these two texts that the only blessings we should focus on during our sabbath observance were the blessings of creation. Deuteronomy 5 gives us a second version of the Ten Commandments. Here the basis of the sabbath observance is different. Verse 15: You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence with a mighty hand and an outstreched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
In other words the mighty hand and the outstreched arm of God were not wearied by the work of creation. They are full of strength. God's rest was not for recuperation, but for exultation. Now the same God has shown his power not just to create but also to save. So the focus of the sabbath is on God not only as the source of creation, but also as the source of salvation. "Your God brought you up out of the land of Egypt . . . THEREFORE he commanded you to keep the sabbath day." One day of rest in every seven, kept holy to the Lord, reminds us and shows the world that GOD is our creator and our deliverer—we did not make ourselves, we cannot sustain or save ourselves without his grace. Be still and know that he is God.
Reflection of the Christian Practice of Sabbath (Robert Kruschwitz)
Jesus’ resurrection on Sunday was the catalyst for “the eighth day” innovation in the early church. The early Christians now were convinced that God’s creative activity extended beyond the seven-day week, and so the first day, Sunday, was also the eighth day of God’s work.
Their dedication of Sunday for gathering and worship grew out of the post-resurrection appearances of the Lord. “These provided not only the proof of the resurrection (for alternative explanations for the empty tomb already were emerging),” David Capes notes, “but also the lively expectation that the risen Jesus would be present with Christians as they gathered.”
The initial resurrection appearances of Jesus took place on “the first day of the week.” On Sunday, first the women, then other men disciples, discovered that Jesus’ tomb was empty (Luke 24:1-12; cf. Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1, 11-18). Two disciples journeying to Emmaus from Jerusalem “on that same day” recognized their risen Lord when he broke bread for them to eat. Later that evening the two disciples returned to Jerusalem to share their story only to hear that the Lord had appeared to Simon, too (Luke 24:13-35). That evening, as they celebrated the good news, Jesus appeared before the entire group and commissioned them to preach repentance and forgiveness to all nations (Luke 24:36-49; cf. John 20:19-23). The gospel of
John records that because Thomas was not present at this meeting, the Lord appeared at their gathering “a week later” (on Sunday) to remove that disciple’s doubts (20:24-29).
As they gathered in homes and at the Temple (Acts 2:46; 5:42) on “the first day of the week” (e.g., Acts 20:7-12; 1 Corinthians 16:2), the disciples broke bread, prayed, interpreted Scripture, rehearsed the good news, and prepared for ministry. By the end of the first century the designation “the first day of the week,” which reflects a Jewish way of reckoning time, was replaced by a uniquely Christian term, “the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
The Didache (c. A.D. 50-150) instructs, “Every Lord’s day, gather together, eat a meal, and give thanks after having first confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure (14.1, Ivan Lewis translation). These Sunday gatherings probably began early among Palestinian Jewish Christians and became common practice throughout the church by the mid-second century. Paul warned Gentile believers in Colossae not to let others force them to keep the Jewish Sabbath, since it is only a shadow of things to come, while the substance belongs to Christ (Colossians 2:16-17). Apparently, he expected Jewish Christians to continue observing the Sabbath regulations, but he did not require the same of Gentiles who entered the church.
Though “growing anti-Judaism in the second century and beyond meant that some distanced themselves from Jews and their practices,” Capes notes that “through the fourth century there is ample evidence that some Christians, even Gentile Christians, continued to observe Sabbath.”
The Christian theologian Tertullian, in On Prayer (c. 205), wrote as though corporate prayer on the Sabbath were commonplace, and the Apostolic Constitutions in the fourth century taught that both Sabbath and Sunday should be kept as festivals to the Lord. “Those Christians who maintained a Sabbath practice took their cue from the Lord of the Sabbath, to whom the substance of the new creation belongs.”
Emperor Constantine decreed in A.D. 321 that workers should rest on the venerable day of the Sun. Over the next centuries, Christian believers began resting on Sunday and referring to the Lord’s Day as “the Sabbath,” attaching to the eighth day the significance that is given to the seventh day in the Decalogue.
The story of how Christians came to see Sunday as a day of rest in fulfillment of the Sabbath law is very long and complex. The lesson highlights three ways that Christians through the fourth century related Sabbath to Sunday worship: (1) an early practice of adding Sunday worship to the keeping of Jewish Sabbath on Saturday, (2) a practice of other Christians to worship on Sunday but not observe the Jewish Sabbath, and (3) a later practice of combining Sabbath rest with Christian worship on Sunday. The latter practice became widespread only after Sunday was declared a day for rest from commerce in the Roman Empire.
2. Conclude by discussing the following questions:
- What new insights into Sabbath did you discover?
- Why did Christians adopt a Sabbath practice?
- How does this Sabbath requirement of no work or commerce honor God and respect human needs?
- How is keeping Sabbath more than just attending church worship?
2 Peter 3:7
4. Do you still have questions? Text them to our sermon text line at 720-961-3773. We'll try to answer within a week. Thanks!
Prayers (15 min)
- In your prayers this week thank God for the unconditional and conditional promises he has made to you. Also, ask God to forgive any broken promises you have made, and forgive those who have broken promises made to you.
- Give everyone a chance to pray. Click herefor creative ideas on how to pray as a group.
Optional Worship Song (5 min)
- If you'd like, you can sing a worship song as a group. Don't have a musician? Sing along to a lyric video: SJDenver.org/Songs
- Advent/Christmas songs can be found at SJDenver.org/ChristmasSongs
Serve Our City
- Has your group planned an opportunity to serve our city for this semester? Click Here for a list of Service Ideas!
- Was there a glitch in today's material? Want to request a song? Do you have a suggestion? Click Here!
Resources for the Christian Practice of Keeping Sabbath
1. Living the Sabbath: Discovering the Rhythms of Rest and Delight. Norman Wirzba. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2006.
Our traditional understanding of Sabbath observance is resting from our otherwise harried lives one day a week. Norman Wirzba leads us deeper into the heart of Sabbath with a holistic and rewarding interpretation of what true Sabbath-keeping can mean in our lives today. Wirzba teaches that Sabbath is ultimately about delight in the goodness that God has made—in everything we do, every day of the week. He then shows how this understanding of Sabbath teaching has the potential to elevate all our activities so that they bring honor to God and delight to the world. With practical examples, Wirzba unpacks what that means for our work, our homes, our economy, our schools, our treatment of creation, and our churches.
2. Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People. Dorothy C. Bass, Editor. San Francisco: JosseyBass, 1998.
Dorothy Bass and the other contributors to this multi-denominational collection show how they can shape a faithful way of life during challenging times at work, at home, and in the community. This book explores the stuff of everyday life, placing ordinary activities in a biblical and historical context, and discovering in them opportunities to realize God’s active presence in life. This is the first book in the Christian practices series and describes twelve practices of the Christian life. The practices include: Honoring the Body, Hospitality, Household Economics, Saying Yes and Saying No, Keeping Sabbath, Testimony, Discernment, Shaping Communities,
Forgiveness, Healing, Dying Well, and Singing Our Lives.
3. Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time. Dorothy C. Bass. San Francisco: JosseyBass, 2001.
Dorothy Bass invites readers into a way of living in time that is alert to both contemporary pressures and rooted ancient wisdom. She asks hard questions about how our injurious attitude toward time has distorted our relationships with our innermost selves, with other people, with the natural world, and with God. Receiving the Day offers a language of attention, poetry, and celebration. Bass encourages us to reevaluate our understanding of the temporal and thereby to participate fully in the Christian practice of knowing time as God’s gift. Embraced in this way, time need not be wrestled with each day. Instead, time becomes the habitation of blessing.
4. Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. Wayne Muller. New York: Bantam Books, 2000.
“Sabbath time can be a revolutionary challenge to the violence of overwork, mindless accumulation, and the endless multiplication of desires, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Sabbath is a way of being in time where we remember who we are, remember what we know, and taste the gifts of spirit and eternity,” writes ordained minister, therapist, and best-selling author Wayne Muller. He challenges us to take a Sabbath day of rest, to set aside a Sabbath afternoon for silence, and to create Sabbath moments in our hectic weekday schedules. He is calling for a time of stillness and repose, a time for rejoicing in the goodness and holiness of life, and a time to surrender to the mystery of not-knowing. At the end of chapters on rest, rhythm, time, happiness, wisdom, and consecration, Muller includes dozens of Sabbath exercises such as taking a guilt-free nap, blessing your children, keeping a Sabbath box, creating a family altar, and thinning or letting go of possessions.
5. Sabbath. (The Ancient Practices Series) Dan Allender. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
“The Sabbath is far more than a diversion; it is meant to be an encounter with God’s delight,” writes Dan Allender. He presents a rounded and robust overview of this day of delight. There are three core premises explored on these pages:
- The Sabbath is not merely a good idea; it is one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus did not abrogate, cancel or annul the idea of the Sabbath.
- The Sabbath is a day of delight for humankind, animals, and the earth; it is not merely a pious day and it is not fundamentally a break, a day off, or a twenty-four hour vacation.
- The Sabbath is a feast day that remembers our leisure in Eden and anticipates our play in the new heavens and earth with family, friends, and strangers for the sake of the glory of God. Allender believes that the ancient art of Sabbath is practiced when we have a day of wonder, delight, and joy; or another way of putting it is “to have a play day with God and others.”
6. Sacred Rhythm: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation. Ruth Haley Barton. Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2006.
Spiritual disciplines are activities that open us to God’s transforming love and the changes that only God can bring about in our lives. Picking up on the monastic tradition of creating a “rule of life” that allows for regular space for the practice of the spiritual disciplines, Sacred Rhythms takes you more deeply into understanding seven key disciplines along with practical ideas for weaving them into everyday life. Each chapter includes exercises to help you begin the practices—individually and in a group context. The spiritual disciplines include: Solitude, Scripture, Prayer, Honoring the Body, Self-Examination, Discernment, and Sabbath. The final chapter, A Rule of Life, puts it all together in a way that will help you arrange your life for spiritual transformation.