Here on the Learning Leadership Blog I am always working to bring readers relevant topics that will impact your work skills and life relationships. Today is a topic I have not written about which is the topic of the Sabbath (or known as a simple day off). Taking a Sabbath day is something I am passionate about and grateful to share with you because it has had an incredibly positive impact on my life.
In order to simplify and keep this topic of the Sabbath clear I have divided the topic into three separate blog posts:
The concept of a Sabbath day comes from the Bible which is why today’s post will start there: in the Bible. The Sabbath is mentioned several times throughout the Bible1 but is most prominently described in the Old Testament book of Exodus in chapter 16.
The context of Exodus 16 is an exciting one! Moses has just led God’s people–the Israelites–out of slavery in Egypt. With God’s guidance Moses leads them out away from Egypt despite the desire for Pharaoh, the Egyptian King, who wants to recapture the people whom he just let go. Thus God parts the Red Sea and allows the Israelites to pass through it safely while the Egyptian Army fails to cross.
At this point, the Israelites complain about two things:
- Not having enough food to eat
- That they would have been eating good meat and bread if they were still in Egypt
This context leads us to the revelation and teaching about the Sabbath to God’s people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual. . .”2
Then we skip some verses where people complain and God gives them meat.
- God has a plan for the Sabbath at the beginning: If you look at the Bible as one long story of God’s revelation to us about Him, His teachings, and His people, this story is at the very beginning of what is shared in the Bible. The Sabbath was part of God’s plan from the beginning.
- God has not even given the Israelites Manna (which was the food they would eat daily for 40 years) yet, but He is already talking about the Sabbath: In this story, God has not given the people the food they will be eating, yet He is telling them how to live and how to work with the Manna.
- God has not given Moses any commandments or laws to teach the people: Perhaps the insight I find most interesting about this story is that God reveals his teaching and purpose of the Sabbath before He gives his commandments and laws to Moses. This topic of the Sabbath precedes any other laws or commandments given to the Israelites to obey.
- The tendency of the Israelites was to provide for themselves, not to trust God: It is fascinating how relevant this is to the American culture which we live in. Often we do not trust God even if He has told us He will provide. It is our human and independent nature to attempt to provide for ourselves, not to trust God.
1Two additional times in the Bible the topic of the Sabbath is mentioned. The first is when God created the world and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:1-3) and the second is Jesus’ commentary on the Sabbath throughout the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
2Exodus 16:4-5 (New Living Translation)