Why You Ought Not Sabbath
by Joseph Franks
While we are always to worship — whether we are eating, drinking, sleeping, working, playing, or whatever else we are doing — we are not always to worship in the same manner. There is an appropriate season and time for everything under heaven. There is a time to dance and a time to weep; a time to hit the buffet and a time to fast; a time to sing and a time to mourn; a time to make love and time to make war; and there is a time to sabbath as well as a time not to sabbath.
“Well, hold on a minute,” someone is saying. “We were trekking along nicely with you until that last line. What do you mean by, ‘There is a time not to sabbath?'”
At this point, some are wondering, “Are we going to have another devotional on the Fourth Commandment and how it has been abrogated due to the cross-work of Christ?” Well, for those who would rightly abhor such a devotional, and for others of you who would find pleasure in such teaching, you can all relax. The answer is, “No, we are not discussing the relevance, duty and manner of keeping God’s holiday.”
Then there are others who conclude, “Well then, this is going to be another legalistic devotional that once again forgets the shalom and sabbath-rest found exclusively and exhaustively in Christ?” Well friends, the answer again would be, “No. This author agrees with you that one ought always to find his or her rest in Christ; for everyday his yoke is easy and his burden is light.”
So then you ask, “Why then would you say there is a time not to sabbath.” The answer is found in Isaiah 62:
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. The Lord has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.
Isaiah was preaching to a past people about a day to come on their near horizon. Following their season of exile, God’s people were going to return to the Promised Land and build a second temple. Righteousness and salvation would be shown to Israel, and the nations would be forced to recognize the wonder-working power of God. (This was fulfilled through the ministry of Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah) However, until this happened, the children of God were to labor on. Yes, one day each week they were to worship by sabbathing before the Lord, but six days a week they were to worship the Lord by not sabbathing. There was work to be done, and the Old Testament church was to be characterized by fervent and industrious obedience to the mission of God.
Isaiah was also preaching to a past people about a day to come on their more distant horizon. As the centuries passed, Israel would once again endure a season of silence from their God. They would abandon him and receive the consequences of their actions. Greek and Roman empires would have their way with God’s Chosen People, and the nations would mock and wag their tongues at the Hebrew race. However, at the appointed time, righteousness would come again to Zion. Salvation would appear in and through Jerusalem, and the nations would again recognize the gracious and wonderful work of God. (This was fulfilled through the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.)
And since I am not a full-preterist, I conclude that Isaiah was also preaching to a future people about a day still to come on the even more distant horizon. Isaiah preaches to us. So, while the “kingdom of heaven is near,” and the “kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and the “kingdom of heaven is amongst us,” we are commanded to pray “thy kingdom come” while we wait for the future and final domination of the King of kings. And while we wait and pray, what else are we to do?
You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth … Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples.
Therefore friends, let us honor our Savior, Lord, and Divine Husband. Let us be obedient children, honorable citizens, industrious servants, and busy wives. Let us sabbath every day in our hearts. Let us sabbath at least once a week in our churches and homes. And then let us not sabbath well. Let us work for the night is coming. Let us take advantage of the fields of harvest. Let us pray for many other fellow laborers. Let us herald from the rooftops. Let us love those in the valley of despair. Let’s contribute to the worship party of the angels as they dance with joy over new converts. Friends, let’s walk in holiness so men may see our good works and glorify our Heavenly Father. We have started the race, now let us run it with perseverance so that we might finish well and receive the crown. Yes, we need time-outs. Yes, we need water-breaks. Yes, we need vacations, sabbaticals, and weekly sabbath rests. But we are called to work six days for the cause of Christ. So let us not be slothful but industrious. May we work hard today while we wait for the glorious tomorrow. Let us be good stewards of the time given us by the Master.