Pondering How We Guard Sabbath

Ponder: This week we’re studying several sections in which God asks His people to trust Him to provide as they cease from their work one day a week and as they forgive debts (Deuteronomy 15:1-18), release slaves (Jeremiah 34:12-17), and allow their land to lay uncultivated (Leviticus 25:1-22) every seven years.

In Nehemiah 13:15-22, we read how the prophet returns to Jerusalem to check on God’s people and finds God’s house disrespected and the Sabbath day dishonored with the chaos of commerce. A day set apart as a gift for the people now looks like any other day. Nehemiah is angry and reminds the people that their God will pour out His wrath upon them as He did on a past generation, for He is jealous for His people to follow His best for them. Nehemiah sets guards at the city gate to keep traders out on the Sabbath. He works hard to protect the holy day, the day God blessed at creation (Genesis 2:3).

  • Who am I in the story of Nehemiah? Am I one of the workers toiling day after day without taking a true rest of body and soul? Am I one of the traders straining toward the next big deal without regard for the Sabbath? Or am I the prophet fighting for the holiness of the rest day?
  • What does my answer tell me about my trust in God’s provision for me and my family? Do I struggle to trust Him to provide for all my needs in six days, not seven? 
  • Is there a guard I should set at the gate of my sabbath rest to guarantee that I truly find restoration at the end of a long week? What will it look like?
  • On the other hand, what will I allow into my sabbath to help bring physical and spiritual restoration?

Prayer: Lord, thank You for bringing Your Word alive in my heart today. Thank You for showing me where I struggle to trust You to provide for all my needs 24-7, for showing me how I struggle to rest on the day You have given to me for restoration. Forgive me for being stubborn, for thinking I know best, for not trusting You. Give me courage this week to truly rest my mind, body, and soul for an extended period of time, to enjoy Your good gifts. Show me the guard I should place over the Sabbath and the things I should allow into Your holy day for my good and Your glory. I love You, Lord.