“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. (NLT)
There has been much controversy over the years about just how to apply this commandment, or even if we still need to apply it. Jesus certainly attacked an overly legalistic approach to it. It seems the command not to work does not imply inactivity, but rather a recognition of the need for rest.
We breach this command not by kicking a football or visiting the supermarket on Sunday (or Saturday in some traditions). We breach it by not taking the time to remember the mighty acts of God. We breach it by living a frantic sort of life which has no time for reflection and refreshment. We breach it by demanding others live that sort of life.
A life consumed by the making of money and thus working non-stop to earn it is what is the problem. Getting bogged down with details about what we can and cannot do is a distraction. Taking one day to rest from money making or busyness gives us the time and space to focus more on God who himself “rested”. It is a reminder that one day we will “rest” in the age to come…not inactivity but contentment and true life as God intended it.
Of course we allow for periodic emergencies that demand our full and constant attention. But if we find ourselves too busy to take regular time to rest and reflect, then we really are too busy. If we ignore the God given rhythms of life, our lives end up sadly out of tune.