top of page

The Blessings of Sabbath for Business Owners

The Holy Spirit has been highlighting REST to me for some months – in all the forms brought to Israel:

  • Weekly, there was a Sabbath day p.w.

  • Annually, there were seven festivals (Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, and others)

  • Every 7 years, was a sabbath year, to let the land rest (Lev. 25:1-7

  • Every 50 years, was Jubilee – when all debts were forgiven, all slaves freed, and all land that had been sold was returned to the original owners. (Lev. 25:8-17)



Understanding the value that comes from Sabbath being made for man” (Mark 2:27) makes clear it’s intent – not as a legalistic function we must “do”, but an opportunity for relationship with God, to which He invites us. Not necessarily (I believe) on any one specific day of the week (because “the Son of man is Lord even over the Sabbath” – Mark 2:28), but with a definite call that we should have a Sabbath rest each week! – a day for us to receive the blessings God has determined to bestow (Gen. 2:4 and Exo. 20:11). How sad if we treat Sabbath in a careless and offhand way, thus missing out on the blessings God longs to pour onto us!


Likewise the value of festivals (see Lev. 23:4-44) becomes clear if we view them as ‘retreat opportunities’ – God-centred days offered to us in addition to weekly Sabbath days. They are extra times for us to stop deliberately, to make a bold, counter-cultural statement that ‘we don’t need to keep running at full pelt’, as we embrace the promise of God that He (not our customers) shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). They become days to celebrate Him, and to allow Him to work in us, as we simply ‘linger’ with Him, often with no pre- meditated purpose at all, but simply so we can practice His Presence, learning to be at one with Him.


Of course, the 7-year rests (when all debts are cancelled and even the land was required to lay fallow), are a significant faith-challenge. Will we take God seriously about His ability to supply, notwithstanding that our ‘manufacturing machinery’ is required to cease operations for a year? In an agrarian society, the land was the means by which ‘product’ was grown – whether as food for personal use, or food for sale. Yet here, God is saying: ‘Trust Me to be your supplier, not the capitalist marketplace, nor your customers, nor your own innovative marketing.’ (see Lev. 25:18-22)


And the 50-year Jubilee is perhaps our biggest challenge of all. All outstanding debts were cancelled, and all land sales (more akin to leases in Israel) were reversed so that every family had its land restored to them (see Lev. 25:23-24) – ensuring not only a heredity in Israel, but also ensuring a means of being able to continue growing food and/or earning an income. What higher bar is Jesus expecting of us, I wonder?



sabbath


Early in Jesus' ministry, He made a categoric statement: "For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law, until everything is accomplished." (Matt 5:18)


Of course, everything was accomplished in Jesus. Born both as a Jew, and as God’s King of the Jews, He had the right to represent His people in fulfilling the promise given to Abraham – and through Abraham, all peoples on earth (Gen. 22:18, Gen. 26:4, Acts 3:25). In fulfilling the Law, Jesus raised the requirements above and beyond the Mosaic Law, requiring us to live as God lives – an impossibly high target unless we allow Him to live in us (Gal. 2:20).


Whilst affirming that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void (Luke 16:7) He also made clear that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” (Matt. 24:35). It is His words, therefore, through which we now live out “the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”, which has “made me free from the Law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2).


The Law was thus not abolished; rather it was fulfilled – and in the process we, in Christ, became subject to a higher Law, this “Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2) – which requires an even greater personal holiness than the Mosaic Law did.


1) Food Laws: "Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body. (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)" (Mark 7:18-19). Better still read this in its full context, verses 14-23, and it becomes clear that Jesus is saying that living as His disciple requires us to adopt God’s own standards – which are much higher than merely avoiding certain food groups.


2) Cleanliness Laws: Similarly, the rules covering what was ritually clean and unclean are now subject to a much higher requirement – one of generosity, justice, the love of God, humility, grace and again holiness – not mere ritual or mere cleanliness (read Luke 11:37-52).


3) Sacrificial Laws: His death and resurrection fulfilled the sacrificial laws absolutely, so animal sacrifices have now become irrelevant (read Heb. 10:1-18). He became the sacrifice for all Sin (not just ‘sins’), reversing the cause of the fall of creation, and initiating the beginning of the new age, not only of the Kingdom, but ultimately of the new heavens and the new earth yet to come. He became “sin for us” (an incredibly powerful statement in itself), “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). There was a substitution of Sin onto Him and, in the process, not only the consequent redemption of all creation, but also the substitution of God’s own personal righteousness onto us. Not imputed to us – but imparted into our own new nature. It would therefore be impossible for us not to require ourselves to live lives of Godly righteousness and holiness now, as a result. God’s own character has become part of our new nature. Far from giving us an excuse to deny Godly living since we “live under grace” – it is now incumbent upon us to live lives as holy as Jesus . . . not by our efforts, but by accepting His free gift of righteousness.


4) A new Law of Love: As part of living this life of Jesus, a new commandment has been added – one that Jesus demanded of Himself: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).



sabbath



















The moral requirements of the Mosaic Law thus also superseded by what Paul calls, “The Law of the Spirit of Life [which] has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2), which is the very heart and nature of God Himself (see Rom. 7:7-25). Founded on what Jesus calls the two greatest commandments (“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” – Mark 12:30-31), I see nothing to suggest that we should not embrace all 10 Commandments.


The requirement to keep Sabbath is the fourth of these 10 Commandments – and the one most Christians largely ignore, or at least treat with a cavalier disrespect, quoting Mark 2:27-28 as some kind of justification . . . verses that I discuss a few paragraphs further on.


However, as I understand it, Sabbath is definitely much more than ‘having a day out off work to catch up on home-based tasks (such as gardening, DIY, washing, ironing, shopping, cleaning); and it’s much more than simply ‘collapsing, exhausted, at the end of the week and "slobbing around"’.


Sabbath as God intended it (for man” – Mark 2:27) is one to be lived intentionally – a day taken deliberately and regularly to honour God doing those things that allow Him to work deeply in our hearts, resting and restoring us. It's a day to embrace Him, to remember Him, to deepen our connection and Father-child relationship with Him, to 'hallow'/honour Him: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." (Exo. 20:8- 11).


If we accept this, it’s reasonable to ask some “how” questions:

• How do we do that in a Western Society?; and

• Are we saying that only one specific day of each week is the Sabbath Day?


The Jews, of course, consider that Sabbath is sundown to sundown – essentially Fri. 6pm to Sat. 6pm. Christians have always celebrated all day Sunday (usually midnight to midnight). Must we argue for one or other these being right and the other wrong? Must Sabbath be universally the same day for all people, throughout history? Does it even matter – or is there something higher at play here?


My thoughts are these:-


Whilst nations do appear to be blessed when they accept a single day as a Sabbath, all stopping together, we also live in societies where emergency services need to operate 24/7/365. Fire, medical and police services; electricity; travel and armed forces, for instance.

Likewise, (and ironically!) Sunday is a working day for most church ministers and pastors. This, I believe, is where Jesus’ two comments in Mark chapter 2 shed light on how we can understand and keep Sabbath under the “Law of the Spirit of Life”:


“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)

- and -

"So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (the next verse, v. 28)


Let’s look at these against the backdrop of the original intention of Sabbath. "The LORD BLESSED the Sabbath day and made it holy [i.e. 'set it apart']", Exo. 20:11b. The Sabbath Day was therefore clearly instigated to be a blessing to humanity; not to create a legalistic burden. Keeping Sabbath is still one specific opportunity for us to receive God’s ongoing blessing and favour on our lives. Yet the fact that it was made “for man” and the fact that Jesus is “Lord of it” suggest to me that the specific day we keep is anything like as important as the fact that we do.



sabbath

I think we see this interpretation come through when the Pharisees criticise the disciples for not obeying their own rules about Sabbath. Jesus never said, “the Sabbath is no longer important” – He said that He is now Lord over it. There’s nothing in this statement to suggest that He was abolishing the blessing that Sabbath is intended to offer us.


Practically, therefore, my advice would be:-


Choose any one day a week when you can and will keep a Sabbath. Ideally, a day your family can do so together. Depending on your job (e.g. shift workers), it may not even be the same day every week – although it's generally very helpful to us humans if we can establish a regular routine. Make that day a day when you spend time together. Maybe turn off technology (as much as you can – obviously if your job requires you to be 'on call' that may not be possible). Establish different routines for that day, compared with other days – routines that become part of your family’s 'culture'. E.g. go on a beach walk together each week; or always have pancakes; or have an hour where you sit and read out loud a great book, all together; or play board games together – whatever it is that rests and refreshes you. Also build in time just to stop for a while. Maybe take a Bible verse or passage, and discuss it as a family.


Thus the day takes on a 'flavour' of two things: God with you; and restoration. Make it enjoyable enough that everyone begins to look forward to it. It could start in a morning or an evening – whichever works for you as a family.


Finally, make a Sabbath day your minimum. Remember that we're encouraged to “Be still, and know that I am God" (Psa. 46:10);

- and -

"Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." (Isa. 40:31)


(Sounds like a recipe to avoid burnout, doesn't it? . . . Funny, that!)


We can apply this by building 'mini-Sabbaths' into every day. Moments where we deliberately just pause for a minute, or two, or five. Just stop, refocus, remember Him, become aware of His presence, make sure we haven't ignored Him (which is one way of shutting Him out). Invite Him back in if we have; be aware of what He's saying in those moments – maybe someone He asks me to pray for, or maybe I just need to receive His smile – then, carry on with your day. Such “small rests” will start to make a huge difference to your awareness of His presence, and of your ability to hear His voice.


On a practical note, for a while I set an alarm every two hours, on the hour, to remind me to pause; then as I got more used to having these 'mini-stops' I changed the alarm to 12 noon every day, to make sure I was still not letting go of my new habit. I wanted it to be as natural as eating, washing, breathing. Another option is every time you do a specific activity (preferably one you do multiple times in a day), make it habitual to renew your awareness of Him. It could be every time you wash your hands; or every time you get a drink; or every time you answer the phone (at the end of the call!)


Finally, do I claim to be correct with this interpretation – no, not at all! It comes from my best, current understanding of the life and person of Jesus. Yet each of us has the mind of Christ, so it’s our responsibility, individually, to satisfy our own consciences. We need to dive deep into the Spirit, and ask Him to reveal the Truth of Jesus to us.


One thing is for certain, though: Jesus is not interested in binding us up in tight regulations. Yet, paradoxically there is still a ‘yoke’ to carry – but one that comes from submitting to His Lordship. “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30).



sabbath


His is the yoke of simplicity, assurance, peace, rest and restoration, where submission and obedience become our simple task; and He commits to supply all our needs when we do:-

  • Matt. 6:33 – “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”).

  • John 15:7-8 – “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples.”

In summary, therefore, I believe that Sabbath is intended for our blessing, and we do well to take that seriously. “The Sabbath was made for man... ” (Mark 2:27). It is a space in which God reveals Himself to us – in the still, small, voice of calm; in the stillness, the waiting. It’s a place for us to drink deeply of Him and find ourselves beautifully, miraculously, “knowing God” (Psa. 46:10) – at rest in His presence.


Peter Lawry (author)

Copyright © March 2023, Business As Mission Limited


(Note: You are free to copy and distribute this blog if you wish, on condition that all such copies show the author’s and copyright holder’s details, as noted immediately above.)


Download below:


2023-03-20 - The Blessing of Sabbath for Business Owners
.pdf
Download PDF • 298KB

54 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


My spirit bears witness to this truth 🙌

Like
bottom of page