Time. It's the substance of life. It's what you and I spend every second of every minute of every day. Once you spend it, it's gone forever.
We measure time by the motion of the earth circling the sun, the moon circling the earth and the earth spinning on its axis. Years, months, even seconds are measured by tracking the movement of heavenly bodies; day and night by the sun rising and setting.
You and I spend our lives limited by these measurements of time. There are always demands on our time—our jobs, getting the kids to soccer practice, trying to keep up with friends and relatives, doctor appointments and fixing the leaking faucet. Rushing though these activities we spend the substance of life—every week—seven days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds.
We search for rhythms in daily, weekly, monthly, even yearly rituals and seasons. These cycles supply a feeling of reassurance that time has meaning. Many people gather on Sunday morning for an hour of worship in a desire to include God in their weekly 604,800 seconds. Often, after church services everyone rushes home to catch the pre-game show, or get in an afternoon of pleasure seeking, or expend effort on a project around the house.
The week does not measure a particular heavenly event in the way the year and month do. It represents seven rotations of the earth—and not just any seven but a particular cycle of seven. Yet this cycle of seven days might seem arbitrary. So where did it originate?
The ancient Egyptians had a ten-day week while the oldest Roman calendar observed an eight-day week. Yet one ancient people has observed a seven-day calendar for thousands of years. The seven-day calendar, which begins on the first day of the week with the day we call Sunday and ends with the seventh day of the week, Saturday, wasn't developed out of any scientific study. Rather, it came from the decree of God the Creator.
According to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, God set in order the sky and earth as we know them in six days. 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 2:3).
Before the existence of the physical universe, there was no time as we measure it today. Time, as an aspect of the physical universe, is a special creation of God. And He also established cycles of marking time. He created the seventh day of every week for a special, vital purpose.
The weekly reset
You can spend your entire life rushed and hurried and out of sync with time. Or you can understand that God established the seven-day week, with the seventh-day Sabbath, as a way for you to be in sync with His timekeeping and in sync with Him.
Many who regard themselves as Christians claim to observe the Ten Commandments. The truth, however, is that most of them don't. The Fourth Commandment is ignored, shunned, even degraded. It states: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God . . ." (Exodus 20:8-10).
The first step in effective time management is to get in sync with your Creator. This is why the seventh-day Sabbath is relevant for Christians today.
The Sabbath isn't an hour of worship followed by watching a football game, cleaning the garage or catching up on a work project. In fact, the Sabbath isn't even on Sunday, which is the first day of the week. Both in the Genesis account and in the Ten Commandments, the Creator of time states that He set aside the entire seventh day each week—Friday sunset to Saturday sunset—as a time of rest and focus on Him.
The Sabbath is important
Here are three reasons the Sabbath is important for Christians.
1. The first is found in understanding that the seventh day is a memorial of creation and that observing the Sabbath day recognizes the Creator.
The Fourth Commandment states, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it" (verse 11). The Sabbath was created by God at the very beginning of human history.
Are you struggling with an unfulfilled desire to experience God's presence in your life? Maybe part of the problem is how you spend your time. Observing the Sabbath can bring you into sync with the Creator of time.
The first reaction of many people, even Christians, is that observing an entire day in spiritual and physical rest would be restricting. But the opposite is true! Observing the Sabbath changes your priorities and will actually "expand" your time by helping you understand what is really important.
The reality is that if we aren't careful, we'll waste much of our time on the unimportant and the meaningless. The Sabbath is a weekly opportunity to refocus our thoughts and actions from what is mundane and temporary toward what is eternal and everlasting.
2. A second reason the Sabbath is important for Christians is that it provides regular and lengthy opportunity for spiritual worship around which our other responsibilities are to be ordered.
The Creator of the universe, the maker of time, has set aside one day a week as personal time between you and Him.
In Leviticus 23:1-4, God lists the seventh-day Sabbath as one of His (not Israel's, as most people assume) "feasts." The Hebrew word translated "feasts" means "appointed times"—times for meeting with Him. The Sabbath is your weekly personal appointment with God! How you spend this day will affect how you spend all other days.
What is really important in your life? You can determine what is important to people by how they spend their time. Some time management gurus promote micromanaging each hour of every day to increase efficiency. And adopting this management style can sometimes increase efficiency. But it has also driven many people to a nervous breakdown.
A healthier approach to time management is to organize blocks of time dedicated to work, family and worship. This is the framework used by God when He told mankind "six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God" (Exodus 20:9).
By planning your weekly priorities for Sunday through Friday you can get control of the non-stop whirlwind and begin to balance your activities. In your weekly plan you should schedule daily blocks of time for work, family meals, exercise, household chores, personal Bible study, prayer and recreation. This weekly schedule supplies a goal at its completion—the Sabbath.
3. This brings us to a third reason the Sabbath is important to Christians: It provides a day of physical, emotional and spiritual rest and rejuvenation.
No matter how hectic the week, its end waits with the promise of physical, emotional and spiritual renewal.
As the Sabbath approaches it's time to forget the work problems and mortgage payments. It's time to experience your peaceful appointment with God. Physical, emotional and spiritual rest are basic human needs. To ignore these needs is to sow the seeds of illness, broken relationships and spiritual lethargy.
Imagine a day devoted to rest—no business calls, no painting the house, no shopping. Imagine a day with extra time for prayer and worship, with time to share with your family with no deadlines or pressing appointments. Imagine a day when you can shut out the noise, the violence, the preoccupation with making money and experience peace.
Do it now!
You might be saying, "I'd like to do that someday, but right now my life is out of control." If you don't have the time to get in sync with God now, when will you have the time?
No matter what responsibilities you have, or what chaos may be happening in your life, there is no better time than right now to begin to get in sync as God intended.
Are you in sync with God? Is your life so hectic that you don't have time to experience spiritual rest with your Creator? Instead of cramming every day with exhausting activity, it's time to start enjoying the day God set aside for you to rest and renew your relationship with Him. It's time to begin observing God's seventh-day Sabbath!