On any given week our fast-paced, modern lives may embrace several appointments, some of which we don't relish keeping. Few look forward to a tooth-extraction date with the dentist or even a periodic medical checkup. There's no telling what our physician may discover.
Of course most health-care professionals seek to lengthen our lives and make them more pleasant. Yet no matter how capable and competent, they cannot deal effectively with the wide-ranging scope of our human anxieties and uncertainties, along with our financial, work and marital problems.
Only God has the inherent ability to deliver us from all our problems. Only His Word can tell us what our priorities ought to be.
Driving us far from God
Yet our modern societies are not designed to begin, build and enhance a proper relationship with our Creator. Instead, our society mostly widens the gap between God and ourselves—driving us far away from the divine help we all need to cope with life in an increasingly complex, fast-paced world.
Many today are in a state of perpetual confusion, being weighed down with various problems and anxieties. "Hurry sickness" is one symptom and has become the malaise of our Western world. Life in the fast lane is taking a tragic toll.
One journalist frankly confessed: "I am pathologically impatient and incapable of waiting for anything. I'm always stomping out of shops, bars or restaurants because the [line is] too long and I can't be bothered to wait." Today we hear of road rage—and even supermarket-cart rage! As a result of our chronic impatience and always being in a hurry, some become miserable, lonely, stressed-out and sick.
Too many of us don't sleep all that well. Many continually gorge on fast foods, not taking the time to prepare healthy meals. We've allowed time to become an enemy rather than a friend. We are badly misusing one of our most valuable resources. Most of us have lost the knack for properly budgeting our time. We don't realize how important the biblical admonition to "redeem the time" is to our whole well-being (see Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5).
We always seem to have so much to do that we find virtually no time left for regular contact with our Creator. The world has largely cast aside the biblical keys that would unlock the door to God's presence and help in our lives.
A God-like view of time
A psalm attributed to Moses gives us some much-needed perspective. "Lord," it begins, "You have been our dwelling place in all generations...Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God" (Psalm 90:1-2). When God takes center stage in our minds, we start to think differently—to mirror His thoughts rather than our own.
But all of us grow older every day, and the clock is ticking. Our physical lives are composed of just so much time. Many today are already past the 70 years the psalm mentions and are wondering just how much time is left to them.
As the psalm states: "We finish our lives like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away" (verses 9-10).
Our Creator wants us to grasp the implications of the fact that we won't live forever in the flesh. We all need to learn to use our time properly: "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (verse 12, emphasis added throughout).
Our visionary thoughts should extend to a future time beyond our physical lives. God offers the gift of eternal life to those who meet His conditions and surrender their wills to His. But we have to take sufficient time now to think about our real future in the age to come.
Enter God's seventh-day Sabbath!
A day devoted to God
Leviticus 23 is one of the great chapters of the Bible. When we truly understand its implications, it becomes a divinely revealed map of God's plan and purpose for humankind.
It begins: "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations [sacred assemblies, NIV], these are My feasts"'" (verses 1-2). God is the Revealer of truth, and Moses is the agent speaking directly with the people on His behalf. These are God's festivals, and He has exclusive rights to them. They belong to Him and not to any person or group of people.
The Hebrew word translated "feasts" here is mo'edim, which means "appointed times" (verse 4) or "appointments" as we would say today.
The first one mentioned is the weekly Sabbath—to be observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings" (verse 3).
The rest of the chapter is devoted exclusively to seven yearly festivals containing seven Holy Days (annual Sabbaths). As verse 4 states, "These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times." The intriguing explanation of their significance is beyond the scope of this article. To help you better understand them, we recommend that you read our free booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind.
Here we concentrate on your divine appointment with God set for every seventh day.
Observing the Sabbath day
We all need rest from our general labor and occupational work. So the Creator commands us to rest every seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15). The Sabbath commandment actually dates from creation since God Himself rested on that first seventh day and sanctified it—set it apart—as an example for all mankind, beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:1-3).
Spiritual fellowship with others of like mind is one of the most beneficial tonics to the human psyche. We all need it! Of course, this can only succeed in and through our fellowship with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). Successful relationships, whether with God or man, all require quality time.
A weekly day of rest enables us to use the other six days much more profitably. People who work seven days a week generally burn out sooner rather than later. As well as physical and mental rest, we need sufficient time to meditate, thinking about those matters that bring us special meaning and divine purpose.
The Sabbath provides time and space for families, couples and friends to draw closer together. This seventh-day rest provides precious time for prayer and to read and study the Bible, the book that tells us how to live in ways that are infinitely rewarding, purposeful and fulfilling. It is also a time for assembling with others for collective worship, as the term "convocation" in Leviticus 23:3 denotes a commanded assembly (compare Hebrews 10:24-25).
Observing the Sabbath is an integral part of the Ten Commandments. It is no less valid a commandment than those six specifically designed to cover our relationships with other human beings—do not murder, do not steal, do not commit adultery, etc. It is one of the vital first four that help us to express love to our Creator, worshipping Him in a proper and respectful manner.
All too many in mainstream Christendom are either dismissive or ignorant of this weekly get-together with their Creator and are missing out on the spiritual edification that observing the seventh-day Sabbath provides. Why not start keeping your weekly appointment with God? GN