“Rest and Gospel Freedom”
Scripture: Deuteronomy 5:12-15
According to the Bible, God established a pattern involving six days of labor and a seventh day of rest. This pattern of a “week” forms the rhythm for the rest of our lives. This means the Sabbath never just ends a week but the Sabbath also always starts a new week. So then the Sabbath gives you rest after a completed week of work but it also recharges you for an upcoming week of work. When God established a Sabbath year for the land, his purpose was to give the land rest to ensure future years of fruitfulness. In the same way, the weekly Sabbath for us also recharges us for the start of another fruitful week of labor. The Sabbath gets us ready for every new work week.
In Romans 1 Apostle Paul tells us that one aspect of fallen humanity is that we turn things into idols. One of the biggest idols of our age is work and career. Work becomes so much more tiring than it should be because we look to our work to give us something it cannot. We often look to work for security, worth, identity and affirmation. As a result, we are constantly tired, anxious and stressed during the work week. Work is never just work. We try to find significance from it. As a result, rest escapes us. But keeping the Sabbath can help combat this temptation.
The Ten Commandments are recorded twice in the Bible. First in Exodus 20 and again in Deuteronomy 5. Whereas Exodus 20 says we should keep the Sabbath because God rested on the seventh day, Deuteronomy 5 says we should keep the Sabbath because God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. The grounds for keeping the Sabbath in Exodus is creation but in Deuteronomy it’s redemption. As Israel got ready to enter the Promised Land,Moses didn’t want the Israelites to forget God’s great redemption and so he attached it to the Sabbath. Remembering the exodus event on every Sabbath, the Israelites would have a weekly reminder that they were no longer slaves but redeemed by God. The Sabbath was a weekly declaration of freedom from their once enslaved identities.
As Christians we’ve experienced a greater redemption than the Israelites. We were once enslaved to sin but Christ set us free from it. He broke the power and grip of our idolatries over us so that we no longer need to work for our identity, worth and significance but we receive it freely in Christ. This is what gospel freedom looks like. It means resting in Christ’s work for us. When we remember the gospel every Sabbath, it helps us begin our weeks freed from the pressure to prove or earn anything. Instead we begin the work week already confident in God’s acceptance of us in Christ. This means that work becomes just work. We don’t need to work for our identity but instead we can work out our identity. The freedom of the gospel helps the work week become so much more restful as a result.
Group Discussion Questions
- Share something you found either interesting, memorable, convicting, confusing or challenging about the passage/sermon.
- Do you tend to treat Sunday as the first day of the week or the last day of the week? What affect do you think that’s made in your life? On your perspective of the week?
- What does your current practice of Sabbath look like? How do you usually spend the day? What is beneficial about it and what is not?
- In what ways do you look to your work to give you something it can’t or wasn’t meant to give you? What are you hoping to get from your work? What does freedom in the gospel look like for you?