A year and a half ago I sat in a small room with a handful of women and a teacher was brave enough to breech the subject of the Sabbath. Maybe it was the right time for me to hear it, maybe it was the first time I heard it, maybe her words were just the right ones to help me understand? I am unsure, but after leaving there a year and a half ago, I have fallen in love with the gift of the Sabbath. God is so good to us, and he has given us a gift, but we are too busy to open it, to use it, to apply it to our lives.
She started by reading this verse of scripture:
Genesis 2:3- "And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."
Did God bless the day he separated day from night? No.
Did God bless the day he made animals, even the cute animals like wittle-green-tree-frogs and chinchillas? No.
Did God bless the day he made man? NOPE.
God blessed the day that he set aside for rest, the Sabbath, and not only did he bless it, he made it Holy. No other day of creation was deemed holy, none, only the Sabbath. (Most mom's out there will not contest that a good holistic rest is HOLY!!)
So. Okay. We know one fact about the Sabbath, well, actually two... The day is Holy and the day is Blessed. These facts are black and white...inarguable...
Then as the speaker continued she brought us to Exodus 16 and the story of manna from heaven. The Israelites were wandering, freshly escaped from 430 years of slavery they had no idea how to live off of the land. Technically in the dessert, they quickly became thirsty and hungry...which then lead to severe ANGER toward both Moses and Aaron. Honestly, make me walk miles and miles in flat leather sandals, take away my water and food... I might just become a little agitated. Who could blame them?? God realized their state of mind and pulled Moses aside and told him, "I will RAIN down bread from heaven. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to PREPARE what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather the other days." Remember, we are not talking about 40-50 people, but instead MILLIONS people!!! (Exodus 12:37-38 there were 600,000 Israelite men... if you add equal amount of women plus children the totals are almost 3 million... This is a little under the number for the total population for the state of Oklahoma, which is 3.7 million according to google)
So millions of people were to go out each morning before the sun came up and gather 1 days worth of food for their family. They could not keep the manna for the next day, or it would spoil. (They know this because they tried.) Except on the 6th day, the "Day of Preparation". They gathered enough food on the 6th day for both that day and the next, which was the sabbath. They prepared for the sabbath in the physical act of gathering the manna, cooking it and setting it aside for the following day. The mothers did not simply wake up on the Sabbath and kick their feet up and say, "Oh, sorry family, it's the "sabbath" fend for yourselves, I am off duty." Instead they intentionally prepared on the 6th day for a peaceful, restful Sabbath. The nation of Israel went on to gather manna for 40 more years. Every.single.day except for the Sabbath.
We talk so much about the "Sabbath", but never about the day before, the "Day of Preparation". It is Jewish custom by sundown on the day before the sabbath, they are to have the house cleaned, be at peace with one another, have ended the weeks business. A few minutes before sundown the mother lights 2 candles, and sometimes they will add a candle for each child in the home. They are called Shabbat candles, and they serve 2 purposes, to honor shabbat and to create an outward symbol displaying the presence of "shalom bayit" or "domestic peace". The sabbath is observed from sun down on the 6th day through sundown on the 7th day.
We honor the Sabbath on Sunday, though it traditionally is on Saturday. We choose this day because it is the day we join in corporate worship, a day we rest, a day we intentionally remember God. On Saturday, the day our family sets aside as a "Day of Preparation", I follow these same guidelines. Before bed I make sure my house is clean, I make sure my household is one of peace and things are prepared in order to have restful Sabbath on Sunday. We must realize that we cannot wake up on a Sunday morning (if you choose this day as your Sabbath) and expect things to fall into a "restful" pace. Nope, you're delusional. Especially if you have children, work is involved when intentionally recognizing the Sabbath as a day of rest. As mothers we must have things in place so our entire family can enjoy God's blessing in honoring the Sabbath as a day of rest. (If you are in ministry, sometimes Sunday's can be anything but restful!!!) Here are some tips on how to prepare for your Sunday morning.
- Set out clothing, bows, Bibles, shoes... This eliminates unnecessary stress on a Sunday. Have your kids help in the process so they do not throw a fit on Sunday morning before getting dressed. It also helps as a time saver. You are not looking for that one matching bow, or the other shoe that hasn't been seen in a week.
- Have a yummy, no clean up, no cook breakfast. I recently was given this tip and it has really helped at our house. We usually have a pretty nutritious breakfast, but on Sundays, we go fun and easy. I will pick up a treat at the grocery store, like powdered donuts, donut holes, or pre-made muffins. It puts the kids in a good mood, and it helps me out by not having to dirty up the kitchen. We usually eat on paper towels to, so I don't have to mess with any dishes!
- Prepare myself. Since having our 3rd baby I have realized that it's best for me to do most of my "getting ready" Saturday night. I have an idea of what I want to wear, and I shower the night before so all I have to do is throw on my make-up and clothes. I also set out any thing I need to bring to the church ahead of time so I am not scurrying around the house last minute while kids are pulling out bows and kicking off shoes.
- If I am REALLY on top of my game I have things set out for lunch. Sundays are most always crock-pot lunches. I do this because it makes me break out into hives to think of going to a crowded restaurant with 2 kids that need a nap. Someday we can participate in the "eating out after church" ritual again. Right now we have whiney kids and the quite of my own home with 2 babes sleeping and one resting is better than any medium rare steak Oklahoma City can offer me. ;)
The rituals of the Jewish culture are often times paralleled in the life and death of Christ. For example, Christ was crucified and died on "Preparation Day"... coincidence? I think not! Jesus had work to do that day to prepare our way to be with the Father, he was doing the necessary preparation for us to benefit the Holy outcome. And how awesome was his intention to not rise on the Sabbath, probably because he knew the Jewish uprising that would occur if he did so. His forethought is impeccable.
As mothers, we too must do the necessary preparation for our family to partake in the holy blessing of the Sabbath. The blessing of the sabbath is not tangible. It will not put money in your pockets, trinkets on your shelves or clothes in your closets, but it will provide you with REST. R.E.S.T. The 4 letters that are so foreign to most American families in today's society.
In Mark 2:27 Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath".
We don't need to regulate the sabbath, making the observance a legalistic ball and chain around our ankles. Instead we are to partake in the blessing that was extended to us from the most Holy God. Being the very first of religious observance and the longest held tradition, I'd say out of obedience it is something we must give attention to.
I am in my 30s, I am still figuring this all out. Like I said, I heard all of this over a year ago and it was a BIG pill for me to swallow. I am still trying to decipher between conviction and "traditions".
What are some things you do to prepare your family for intentional rest??