The Trumpet Sounds: ‘The Sabbath Rest’

By Barry Pettit - Religion Writer

In early 2020, the world did something unprecedented: it shut down the economy. It wasn’t a United Nations effort but rather something individual countries did around the same time to protect their citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic. And by doing so, the governments of the world acknowledged an idea: the health and well-being of their citizens were more important than wealth. In that time many people were able to rest like they never have. It was like almost everything came to a complete stop for most of our nation. Some experienced it as a time of rest and others called “essential workers” as a time of stress. Now months later we are still in that battle and we are in it together!

In the book of Hebrews chapter 4, the author begins to describe how neither Moses nor Joshua could give rest to the Israelites in the way they required. After speaking about that, the author says, starting in verse 9, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” The Greek word there for Sabbath rest is only used in the NT in this passage. The usage of this word makes it clear the author is speaking of one thing and one thing only: the rest we get when we observe the Sabbath.

The next verse in the passage begins: “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest…” (4:11). The Sabbath is a day of the week to intentionally set aside your schedule and your lists and just spend time with God. This day should be the day upon which the rest of you week turns. You spend the first half of the week reflecting on the past Sabbath and the second half of the week anticipating the new Sabbath. The Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel stated that the Sabbath is a day for us to pause from our labors and contemplate eternity. He wrote, “All week we may ponder and worry whether we are rich or poor, whether we succeed or fail in our occupations; whether we accomplish or fall short of reaching our goals. But who could feel distressed when gazing at spectral glimpses of eternity, except to feel startled at the vanity of being so distressed? … This, then, is the answer to the problem of civilization: not to flee from the realm of space; to work with things of space but to be in love with eternity. Things are our tools; eternity, the Sabbath, is our mate” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath [New York: MacMillan Publishers, 2005], 18, 37).

The Sabbath is an opportunity to intentionally cultivate an eternal perspective by stepping back from the dog eat dog world that we live in and instead dwell upon the eternity we will one day have with God. Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be ‘a realm of rest! To cultivate an eternal perspective on life on this side of heaven, the best thing you can do is intentionally set aside time every week to rest and reflect on the work God has done for you!

This Sunday at South Side we will finish our series “Kingdom Come.” Worship begins at 10:15, and our Children’s Ministry offers children’s classes for all ages. We are continuing to practice social distancing at our services. If you are unable to attend our online services will be available at 3:00 on Facebook and our website. If you would like to give generously text: 84321 then the word “help” and follow the simple instructions. We would love to have your family worship with us! For more information visit us on our website at: or on Facebook.

In Christ,

Barry Pettit

Lead Pastor

South Side Church of Christ

By Barry Pettit

Religion Writer