Sabbaths And Vacations
“But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” Exodus 20:10-16
Vacations and holidays are an important part of our lives. From the earliest age we learn that there are times periodically throughout the year when regular work ceases and we give time for recreation, play, having fun without the restraint of rigorous chores and routine activities of production, assembling, examination, reporting, calculating, producing, planning, programing, performing, mending, repairing, hunting, gathering, cleaning, cooking, serving, training, doctoring, lawyering, butchering, baking, candlestick making and so on. On vacation for a period of time we get to rest from our labors.
Now the Sabbath was intended to be such a time. It was important to God that His people, coming out of slavery to the Egyptians, learned that they did not need to work around the clock without a time of rest and recuperation. They were now free from that bondage and their labor would now and for all time be for their own benefit not for the sake of their taskmasters.
“There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24
“Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God.” Ecclesiastes 5:19
“They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.” Isaiah 65:22
In order to enjoy the work of your hand you’ve got to stop working for a while and just enjoy your blessings.
There is more to the Sabbath than just play and recreation, though that too is part of its essential purpose, to refresh the body, renew the mind, and to restore the spirit. The Sabbath is intended to be a time of remembrance and of celebration in gratitude to God for what He has done and what He has provided for us.
No man’s labors or acquisitions of wealth are by his hands alone. And God charged His people to remember that when they came into the land that flowed with milk and honey.
“And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” Exodus 3:8
He gave them a great promise of blessing and goodness of abundance and wealth, but with a stern warning.
“For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass. When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 8:7-20
In the frailty of our humanity we can be consumed by our work, striving for things, for stuff and for more and more without stopping to realize that we are blessed because God has favored us. Our work is good for us, because it gives meaning and purpose, and a sense of accomplishment and productivity to our lives. These are essential to our good mental and emotional health, but we are not our source for life. The Sabbath gives us the opportunity to remember and reflect on that and be grateful to God for His goodness toward us.
Vacations (real vacations, without the stresses of our daily labors) give us time to pause, to play and recreate and to renew physically, mentally and emotionally. Sabbaths give us time to regularly, every seven days, to remember the Lord our God and to offer up our praise, worship and thanksgiving to Him for His amazing grace, love and provision so freely given to us through the extraordinary and immeasurable price of the blood of Jesus Christ our Lord.
To forget the Sabbath and to do regular work and labor through it under the Law of Moses for Israel brought the penalty of death. Thanks be to God, we through our Lord Jesus Christ have been made free from the Law of sin and death.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
Through Jesus Christ our Lord we have now entered into a perpetual rest from the works of blood sacrifices and offerings for our sins. Jesus has completed that in His own body for us now and for all time. The rest that we have now is in Christ and in Him we have peace with God, our Heavenly Father.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:9-11
Honest work and honest labor is good. Rest and refreshing are also good, even essential. So vacations that provide for these things are good.
Remembrance of God and gratitude to Him are good and right, and essential for life and that more abundantly. This too is the Kingdom of God.