In order to fully understand what a Year of Jubilee (an entire YEAR of Sabbath) is, we need to understand what a Sabbath year means.
In order to understand what a Sabbath year means, we need to understand what a weekly or daily Sabbath means, but in order to understand that, we need to understand our tendency to rewrite Scripture to fit our own preferences. So here we are.
Sitting and taking a rest on any given day is difficult for most Americans. I’ve said this before, but company spends more time on my couch than I do. We are a do-it-all society. We love to accomplish things and cross items off our to-do lists. We like to see the product of our hands.
Nothing is inherently wrong with this. We are designed to work. God created Adam to care for the garden. Genesis 2:14 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it (ESV).” We were designed to care for, protect, cultivate, promote, increase and work that which the Lord has given us. There is no sin in the idea of work that God instituted in the Garden of Eden. God even commands us to work diligently with all our hearts in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).
There was work – good work, before the fall.
Satan tempted humans and as a result, they fell into that temptation and disobeyed the only rule God had in the garden: do not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan asked the pivotal question that we consistently ask to this day, “Did God really say….?”
Our sin with Sabbath starts with that very question.
Did God really say that I need to take a break from everything on one day?”
How you answer that question is the key to what rests in your heart.
When confronted by Satan’s question, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? (Genesis 3:1 NIV)” Eve responded with a lie. Satan asked a question that had a sliver of truth in it, but twisted God’s words just enough to present his lie as God’s truth. In turn, Eve embellished upon what God had said and entered into a lie-war with Satan. One she would surely lose.
God had said in Genesis 2:16-17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die (NIV).’” Satan twisted that command and asked if God said that Adam and Eve couldn’t eat from any tree. Satan had tried to restrict the liberty and freedom that Adam and Eve had in the Lord.
We have plenty of freedom in Christ as Christians. And yet, when a strange rule or something that doesn’t make sense to our human minds comes up in contrast to what culture is telling us, we start to question, “Did God really say?” Because we do not know our Bibles as we should, our answers to that question are as weak, wobbly and whiny as Eve’s was.
Eve said in Genesis 3:2-3 “The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die (NIV).’” Is that what God said? No. She misquoted God’s words and opened up the door for a conversation with the Devil that ended in destruction.
Contrast that response to how Jesus interacted with Satan as he tempted Him. Matthew 4:3-10 says,
“The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only (NIV).’”
Jesus answered the Devil not with His own words as a paraphrase like Eve did. He answered him with the words of God and ended the discourse with a command, “Away from me, Satan!” Eve did none of that. She paraphrased (incorrectly) what God had said. By not being informed herself, and not being quick with God’s words, she opened herself up for further temptation.
Knowing the Word of God matters. It matters in big things and it matters in everyday little things. It’s really hard to be obedient and faithful if we aren’t familiar with what God requires, but that doesn’t mean we’re not held responsible. We live in a country in which we are free to read our Bibles and study God’s Word and pray when we want to. There are Christians dying across the globe because they do those same things, but are not free to do so. And we have the audacity to go a day without reading the Bible? We sound a lot like Eve. She had immeasurable freedom and one rule. When confronted about the one rule, she misrepresented God’s words and opened herself up to fail.
I say all of this because we are all tempted to conform the Sabbath into what is convenient for us.
We have great freedom.
Paul says in Romans 14:5-9 “In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead (NLT).”
We have the freedom to choose how we honor the Sabbath, but the key is to actually do it. My fear is that we Americans are so caught up in the day to day activities and responsibilities we can’t possibly honor each day as holy. We just can’t. We’re too busy. But, that’s why God has allotted for one day as set apart for our benefit and His glory.
First Corinthians 10:3 says, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up (NLT).” We have the freedom to make Sabbath a God-honoring event in unconventional ways. While we have that freedom, sometimes what we’ve made Sabbath isn’t helpful and doesn’t build up our families in the Lord.
We need to make sure we understand how serious God is about taking a Sabbath rest. We need to know what it is and what it isn’t based on His word.
- It is a rest.
- It is a time set apart as holy.
- It is to be honored and obeyed.
- It isn’t mediocre living.
- It isn’t whatever excuses we’ve made it.
- It isn’t causing a maidservant or manservant to serve us.
- It isn’t toiling.
- It isn’t labor intensive.
- It isn’t work.
We are good at making excuses and twisting God’s words when we don’t know them well enough to abide by them. In order for us to gain the peace we so long for in our day and age, we have got to start honoring the Sabbath.
God really said, “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20:8 NLT).”
God really said, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested[a] from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation (Genesis 2:2 NLT).”
God really said, “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none (Exodus 16:26 NLT).”
God really said, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you (Ex 30:13 ESV).”
God really said, “You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people (Exodus 31:13-14 NLT).”
God really said, “Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death (Exodus 35:2 NLT).”
God really said, “Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil (Isaiah 56:2 NLT).”
God really said, “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 58:13-14 NLT).”
Do you want more peace? Do you want more rest? Do you want greater productivity on the other days of the week?
Then try starting to honor the Sabbath. You have freedom in this, but it’s not a license to not do it.
DISCUSSION: How about you? How do you plan to honor the Sabbath this week?
SUGGESTION: We created something that I think might help you and I dig deep into God’s Word even if we are strapped for time. I get it. We’ve had soccer games and karate and direct sales parties and church. It’s been a lot, but nothing is enough to warrant not spending time in the Bible. We have a free course for you to help you really focus, understand and glean deep truths from the Bible even if you’re strapped for time. It’s called Become a Verse Mapping Master in Less Than a Week: The Busy Beginner’s Simple Solution to Bible Study on a Strict Time Budget.
This free course takes you through my exact method of Bible study that really helps me focus when I only have a few moments. I can understand things at a deeper level without more mental clutter. I am so excited about this course and the best of all: it’s free. We haven’t done a huge launch of the course yet. We need you to take it and tell us what you think! Pass it to whomever you’d like! Please be sure to reconnect with us and give us feedback.