Exploring Rest: The Sabbath Principle, Part 2

In January, I began a study on The Sabbath Principle, using Breathe: Making Room For Sabbath, by Priscilla Shirer. This is part 2 of what I’m learning from this excellent Bible study.

On page 16 of the book, Priscilla Shirer shares a quote from Abraham Joshua Heschel, a Jewish rabbi known especially for his book, The Sabbath, which has been described as “a densely beautiful description of the Sabbath that takes us to its core.”  When I did some online research, one particular quote from the book stood out to me.

“Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come.”

Understanding the Sabbath Principle is a part of our preparation for eternity. Life on earth is filled with busyness, and if we think this is all life is about we will be profoundly unprepared for life in God’s eternal kingdom. So gaining a clear comprehension of this principle is vitally important.

Genesis 1 ends with these words: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” And Genesis 2 begins, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” (Genesis 1:31- 2:3 NKJV‬)‬ As Heschel read these verses, he concluded the Creation was not fully completed in six days. God had more work to do on the seventh day. From Priscilla Shirer’s book:

“Heschel said that on the seventh day God created ‘tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose.'”

To better understand the Sabbath Principle of Rest, I did a study of these four words: tranquility, serenity, peace, and repose. Here is a summary of what I learned using the American Heritage Dictionary.

  • Tranquility – the quality or state of being tranquil, free from commotion or disturbance, free from anxiety, tension or restlessness
  • Serenity – the quality or state of being serene, content, untroubled, unaffected by disturbance, calm or peaceful
  • Peace – the absence of war or other hostilities, harmonious relationships, inner contentment
  • Repose – the act of resting or the state of being at rest, peace of mind, calmness, freedom from worry

Does this list sound appealing to you? It surely does to me.

My conclusions from this study:

  1. Rest is much more than cessation of activity. It is both something we need to make room for in our schedule and something we purposely choose to enter into.
  2. Entering rest often includes overcoming hostilities, either in the physical or the spiritual realm. Entering God’s rest may involve spiritual warfare.
  3. Anxiety, restlessness, outer disturbances and inner discontentment are some of the enemies that must be overcome to enter God’s rest.
  4. Rest is possible even when outward circumstances make entering rest difficult, because rest is primarily an inner state of quiet and stillness. This is what the psalmist was saying when he wrote, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV)

God has called us to rest, both by His example and through His Word. Yet we live in a culture that promotes the lie that busier is better. But God has called us to a different kingdom, to the Kingdom of God that is currently within us and which we will enter into in it’s fullness when Jesus returns. My desire is to walk in God’s rest during 2018, and to grow in my understanding of what this really means.

3 thoughts on “Exploring Rest: The Sabbath Principle, Part 2

  1. I love your post, I wrote about rest all December on my blog and did word studies in January and tranquility was one, repose is good. I didn’t know that’s what Hebrews 4 was all about and why I was wandering, I needed rest, and truthfully, I have had days can just sleep all day and naps, I still get things done, and if not they aren’t nearly as important as my health and well being.

    Liked by 1 person

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