Sabbath: A Hidden Treasure

By Anthony Eshleman

The Sabbath has been in my thoughts quite a bit over the past few weeks. Not so much as something I have intentionally been studying but as if God has been dropping clues and inviting me to seek out a buried treasure. (It is the glory of God to conceal things but the glory of kings is to search things out. Proverbs 25:2)

One of the more recent instances was as I was watching an episode of The Chosen. Jesus had just healed Mary of Magdala from the demons and she was preparing a Sabbath meal for her friends. The episode showed glimpses of families in their houses lighting candles, gathering around their supper tables and blessing the Creator as the sun set and a hush fell over the town. It zeroed in on two houses, the house of Mary with her friends who were the dregs of society and the house of Nicodemus, where the religious leaders gathered. It didn’t matter who they were or what their status was, when the Sabbath arrived, their work stopped whether it was finished or not. It was an overwhelming scene for me that resonated with a deep yearning within me to find that intimate quietness in the presence of God.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of the Sabbath and how God set a precedent for it through the six days of creation and resting on the seventh, but with the exception of it being an allegory of heaven, it has no tangible manifestation in the life of the majority of Christians today. The sad reality is that a large number of treasures that God has hidden in the Bible do not get searched out but, instead, get relegated to wall plaques and devotional books that get read periodically but spend most of the time collecting dust.

The rubber met the road for me while some dear friends and I were discussing the logistics of navigating through the current covid 19 pandemic as a Church body, but the principle lends itself to a much broader issue. How do we live through times of uncertainty or crisis and not succumb to panic and fear? It seems like even if we take a hiatus from reading the news, the message of the world finds a way in. We are bombarded with it on a daily basis as it actively seeks to drown out the truth we might receive from a 10-minute devotional or a Sunday morning message.

Just as with everything that God has given to us through His Word, the Sabbath was created to give life. It can quickly join the proverbial list of things we must or must not do in order to be a good Christian if we let it, wherein it is stripped of its beauty and effectiveness. It’s not a mere task to be done or a mental exercise in understanding God, it is part of an ecosystem of beliefs and actions that work in us to produce a life of faith in God.

A professional athlete doesn’t succeed by reading about a sport and memorizing all the rules. While it certainly helps, they cannot succeed without repetitive physical training so that they become proficient at it. We tend to equate busyness with productivity and view silence as awkward but even the good things we fill our hours with can sometimes distract us from discovering the wonderful gems that lie just below the surface. The Sabbath gives us the opportunity to live out the idea of looking to God as our sole source of provision. It’s almost as if (wink) God knew we needed a physical training regimen to help us combat the unrelenting barrage of lies from the enemy. Even in a culture where a traditional Sabbath is not the norm, we can still find ways to remember the Sabbath and incorporate regular, tangible reminders that God provides everything that we need so that when storms come, we can continue to dwell in God’s rest and peace knowing that He is a foundation that cannot be shaken.
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