May 21, 2012

A Day of Rest

Exodus 16:21-26

“Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD.”
—Exodus 16:23


For centuries the people of Israel had lived in slavery to the Egyptians. They did not have three-day weekends or vacations. Their lives consisted of working to build Pharaoh’s kingdom. When God freed his people and called them to worship him in the desert, he set a new pattern for their lives. Rather than following an endless pattern of working, eating, and sleeping, they were to take one day off each week, to rest.

The Lord they met in the desert was very different from the slave-driving Pharaoh. They were compelled to be slaves in Egypt, but they were invited into a covenant relationship with God in the desert. They had to make their own bricks in Egypt, but they received free bread every morning in the desert. They worked endlessly for Pharaoh, but they were commanded to take a day of rest as part of their relationship with God. The Lord was so intent on blessing them that he even preserved their sabbath-day bread from the previous day.

Israel was to set aside time and space to make room for the God of Abraham to live among them. God’s presence came with the promise of peace, blessing, and flourishing for all (shalom). Israel would not have seen this as an oppressive command, but as a gift of grace.

Have we set aside time in our busy lives to make room for God?

God of grace, thank you for the gift of your presence in my life. Help me to set aside time and space to enjoy you and your generosity. Amen.

About the author — Bill Sytsma

Bill Sytsma is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min). He is the author of the book Follow the Leader and is serving as the pastor of New Life Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Indiana. He and his wife, Staci, have hosted support groups for families built through adoption. He and Staci are the proud parents of three active boys: Luke, Isaac, and Nico.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!