Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Sabbath – A Day of Rest

I love the Sabbath Day; it really has become a delight to me. I have often wondered why the Sabbath Day is called a day of rest. As a bishop of a married student ward my day begins at 6 am when I get up and get ready for a day of meetings. My first meeting is at 7am, then it is sacrament meeting and the other ward block meetings. My afternoons are filled with leadership meetings and time spent in counseling with the members of the ward. I usually have some time to spend with my wife eating dinner before going to visit with members or other meetings in the evening. When I get home I may have time to read the scriptures or watch a talk from general conference before I go to bed and finally rest. There is not much time for rest for me or many others serving in the church; however, at the end of the Sabbath Day I feel invigorated and blessed to have served with the wonderful young couples in our ward. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I look forward to the Sabbath Day when I get to “rest” from my worldly labors and focus on the Savior and Heavenly Father’s children.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the best example of Sabbath observance. He did not spend his day sleeping, or lounging around the house. His Sabbath was spent teaching the people, healing the sick, visiting with his disciples and their families. Many times when he did go somewhere to find solitude, the multitudes found him, he did not send them away, he willingly ministered unto them and blessed them. He spent the Sabbath as he every day, serving his Father’s children. Most of us have to work to provide for ourselves and our families; so the Lord asks that we take one day each week to rest from those daily labors and to follow his example of going to the “house of prayer” or church, to partake of the sacrament, and to serve others.

In the ten commandments that the Lord Jehovah gave to the children of Israel, through his prophet Moses, he said “six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord” (Exodus 35:2). To his modern church the Lord said that in order for us to keep our selves unspotted from the world we are to go to the “house of prayer” and to “rest from your labors” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-10)

Alma, a Book of Mormon Prophet, taught:

But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;

Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest. (Alma 13:28-29)

Is there a difference between resting on the Sabbath and entering into the Lord’s rest? President Joseph F. Smith had this to say about what it means to enter into the rest of the Lord:

“What does it mean to enter into the rest of the Lord? Speaking for myself, it means that through the love of God I have been won over to Him, so that I can feel at rest in Christ, that I may no more be disturbed by every wind of doctrine, by the cunning and craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; and that I am established in the knowledge and testimony of Jesus Christ, so that no power can turn me aside from the straight and narrow path that leads back into the presence of God, to enjoy exaltation in His glorious kingdom; that from this time henceforth I shall enjoy that rest until I shall rest with Him in the heavens.” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, Chapter 48)

I believe that there are similarities between the two types of rest. The scriptures tell us that for us to remain unspotted from the world we are to rest on the Sabbath and go to the house of prayer. In other words, we are to take a break from our worldly pursuits and activities and attend our church meetings, renewing our covenants by partaking of the sacrament, and spending our day in service and worship. If we make Sabbath observance a habit, we will be more committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and will have the spirit to be with us always so we will not be deceived by worldly pleasures or doctrines of the devil. We will be firm in our testimonies and not lead astray. When we live lives like Christ we shall be at peace and at rest in him.

When we come to enjoy the Sabbath day in this light it will be a day of rest for us and we will enter into the Lord’s rest.

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