DAY 18 – TEL AVIV
Read Hebrews 4:1-12
Several years ago, I was invited to join other evangelical leaders to a Jewish home for an evening meal on Shabbat. It’s an experience I won’t forget. The entire family gathered around the table for a wonderful dinner. Throughout the evening, prayers were recited, blessings given, and Scripture read.
Shabbat begins about sundown on Friday evening and concludes near sundown on Saturday evening. A very careful schedule is distributed to observant Jewish families containing exact minutes when Shabbat begins and ends, as well as other important observances during that 24-hour period. The purpose of Shabbat is, of course, to follow the command of the Lord who said, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” Truth is, many who claim a Jewish heritage do not observe Shabbat. I have been in Tel Aviv on Friday evening, and it’s party time for many Israelis! Restaurants and bars are open late as non-observant Jews enjoy their weekend. The beach is usually packed on warm Saturdays with locals just enjoying the sand, surf, and sun.
Frankly, this principle has always been an enigma to me. I never liked “taking a nap” as a boy. It’s the one command out of the 10 Commandments that is not repeated for Christians in the New Testament, so I probably ignored the value of a Sabbath many times in my life.
Yet the principle of observing a day of rest with your family seems like a valuable idea, even under the new covenant. After all, God said, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy” (Exodus 20:9,11 – NLT). Apparently, the Lord Jesus recognized the value of this principle: “Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer´ (Luke 5:16).
Don’t misunderstand… I’m not suggesting you have to keep a Sabbath on a certain day or in a certain way. Paul even wrote to the Colossians: “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths” (Colossians 2:16 – NLT).
Just figure out how you can “rest from your work” one day of the week and take time on that day to especially honor the Lord. You might become more productive in your work. And you just might like it!
Prayer of reflection: Father, thank you for setting the example for me to rest. Help me this week to find time to rest from my work and worship You.