Read Exodus 35-37
Exodus tells us of three defining moments for the nation of Israel: 1) God miraculously delivers His people; 2) God’s presence is with Israel and no other nation enjoys this distinction; 3) God gives the nation His own Law and establishes a covenant with Israel alone.
Inside God’s Law for His people, He makes to sure He tells them to rest. While the instructions for the Sabbath had been delivered earlier (Exodus 20:8-11), God repeats these valuable words.
The word Sabbath literally means, “stopping.” Instead of calling it a “Sabbath” day, you could call it a “stop-working” day. We remember to take one day off in seven in order to to keep the day holy. The word “holy” has to do with belonging to God. You can make your cell phone holy if you use your phone for the special purpose of God. You can make this day holy by setting it aside for God alone. God gives us this day as a blessing rather than a burden. It is a day for showing mercy and a day for doing good. It should not be governed rigidly by narrow definitions of what is work and what is not. But neither is it a day to focus on sports and gardening. Instead, it is a day to focus on the Lord.
Here are two practical suggestions for you:
1) Set Aside Time for God’s Word. Take approximately thirty minutes and have a plan on reading the Bible. You should include time to memorize some Bible passages. Aim for word for word memory. A good place to start is the Roman Road (go ahead and Google it).
2) Set Aside Time to Show Mercy to Others. This is a great time to remember the poor. This was exactly Jesus’ point in Matthew: “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:11-12). Too often churches operate as a restaurant – hungry people wait to be fed by a select group of waiters. Instead, our church should operate as an anthill – every member has a task of mercy to do.