Isaiah 58:13-14 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
This is the exact opposite of how most people treat the Sabbath, whether they take it as Saturday or Sunday or whenever. We take it as a day to do as we please, and specifically to go on weekend trips. (Where the NIV says “going your own way,” the Japanese says, “taking trips.”) It’s no wonder so few people find their joy in the Lord! The whole idea of the Sabbath is one that many if not most people feel is “archaic,” a leftover from when survival depended on backbreaking labor. The thing is, Biblical principles never go out of date, no matter how much society changes. We ignore God to our peril, and certainly to our loss. We need the Sabbath to establish our mental and emotional priorities, not just to rest our bodies. The devil doesn’t care so much what we do, so long as we aren’t doing it for God. That’s why he distracts and tempts us with countless things – anything to keep us from God. This passage repeatedly mentions not doing what you want. We don’t like that! However, success in many areas of life depends on that kind of self-control. For example, always eating what you want results in the kind of obesity epidemic that is plaguing the US right now. In the same way, choosing obedience to God over satisfying our flesh gives us spiritual health, and yes, joy, that can be had no other way. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us to accomplish that.
This is hitting me rather hard right now. I have certainly been guilty of treating the Sabbath as a day to do as I please. Since I am busy as a pastor on Sundays, I have been jealous of my time after people go home, and that has not been good. I tell people that I take Monday as my Sabbath, since I am so busy on Sunday, but I don’t focus on God on Mondays. I talk about submitting myself fully to God, but I’ve got a way to go in walking that out fully. The idea of completely unplugging from the Internet on the Sabbath is one my wife has recommended, but I have been loath to do it. That would be a good start! I speak frequently of integrity, of our actions lining up with our words, and right now I am being shown that I’ve got a way to go there, too! I do desire to desire God above everything else, but my flesh still gets in the way all too often.
Father, thank You for this wakeup call! It’s good to be reminded that I too still have my blind spots. Help me indeed put You first in everything, and to recognize what that means in every situation, so that I may more consistently do Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!