July 2, 2021 | by: Chris Kiiskinen | 0 comments
When the other Elders proposed a 6-week sabbatical for Scott and I, my initial response in my head, was...“I don’t want a sabbatical!” I’d rather just keep plowing through, adjusting to the transitions that would be happening in my ministry roles and rolling strong into the Fall.
But my brothers, who love me, felt it would be profitable for both Scott and I, as we had been serving for many years without any break, other than normal vacations.
Although I did not want to take it, I can say that I am looking forward to the break, to having time with Kristine and to slowing down and resting for a while.
As you may know, the idea of a sabbatical is rooted in God’s design for us, seen clearly in the creation story. Genesis 2:1-3 tells us...
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
Then, when God gave the 10 Commandments to Israel, the fourth (and longest) was regarding the Sabbath, as He said...
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
God modeled for us the idea of rest and then even commanded it of Israel, as a way of following His example. As the Sabbath signified rest, it was a picture of Jesus himself, who is described as Hebrews 4:9 indicates, Jesus is our Sabbath rest!
For this reason, the commandment regarding the Sabbath is the only one of the ten that is not repeated, or taught to be followed, in the New Testament. It pictured Christ, who is now our final rest. But that doesn’t mean that we should never rest.
God had no need to rest, but still gave us an example of that. Jesus often would go away to rest himself, helping us to know that rest is still a good and God-given gift! We are just no longer under the Old Testament law establishing the parameters for that rest.
It is from these last two points that I ask the question...do you need a sabbatical?
First...do you really know and understand Jesus as your rest? This is the spiritual aspect of rest. Jesus said that he came to “give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He gives us rest from our “works” (Hebrews 4:10), meaning from having to keep the law (which we cannot do) and desires for us to know him, and him alone, as our rest before the Father.
We are to find our ultimate rest in Jesus alone and nothing else. Not in anything we must do, achieve or earn. This should empower us to live in that rest, knowing that Jesus has fulfilled all that the Father requires for us, and we are at peace with God, resting in the grace, mercy and love of Christ.
Do you know this rest? Not merely intellectually, but in a saving, life-changing way? This is the primary rest we are to seek. If your life is full of worry and anxiety, it may be that you do not fully understand the rest that Jesus gives us, even amidst the greatest storms of life.
Second...do you need some actual rest? This is the physical aspect of rest that we are still to follow after the examples of both the Father and Son. Sometimes we need to unplug. We need to relax and get away. This can be for a season of prayer and study. Or it can be for rest and relaxation.
Maybe you’ll find that you occasionally need a smaller, more specific sabbatical. Something like...putting your phone down, turning off the news or stepping away from social media. It could be taking a break from something in your life that takes up time that isn’t a bad or sinful thing, but it complicates your life because of the time that it takes. Maybe give that thing a break for a season.
Both of these types of sabbaticals are important. Both are seen in Scripture for us to learn from. So ask yourself...do you need a sabbatical? Do you really know Jesus and the rest he gives? Do you physically need a break from something in some way?
I encourage you to seek more of Jesus through his word. Seek to understand to a greater depth the rest that he freely gives. And also to physically rest up a bit as well. Be thankful for the different types of rest that God gives us and practice both of them, one spiritual and one physical, for all of your days.
Enjoy your sabbatical!
Chris Kiiskinen is an Elder at Grace Bible Church
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