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What Does It Mean for Families to Take the Sabbath Seriously?

Posted by Joy Hale on May 27, 2020 9:45:00 AM

sabbath ideas for families

In the state of Texas, a person who “intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual” is subject to the death penalty.  The state of Texas takes murder seriously. In 2019, nine people suffered the fate of the death penalty. 

In Exodus, God commanded His people to honor a Sabbath by setting aside a day for rest and worship.  God takes the Sabbath seriously. In the Old Testament, disrespecting the Sabbath resulted in the death penalty (Exodus 31:14, 35:2, Numbers 15:32).

 When God gave us the Ten Commandments, He used more words when commanding us to honor the Sabbath than He did for any of the other commandments.  He wanted us to understand the sanctity of the Sabbath.  Sabbath is rooted in creation. God created the world and everything in it.  He saw that it was good and then He rested.  On the seventh day, God stopped working and enjoyed the fruit of His labor.

What does it mean for families to take the Sabbath seriously? 

Sabbath derives from the Hebrew word ‘sabat’ meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep, but it is more than just ceasing to work.  The Pharisees were motivated by legalism, creating rules that prohibited even the simplest task.  Keeping the Sabbath holy isn't about loading a dishwasher.  It is a deep issue of the heart. Honoring it takes practice and thoughtfulness. It looks different for each person. Ask yourself these simple questions to determine what the Sabbath might look like for you.  What brings you closer to God? What does life-giving rest and worship look like for you? What causes you to remember who He is?  As you thoughtfully meditate on how to honor the Sabbath with your family, here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Enjoy God’s creation by walking, jogging, biking, swimming, or hiking.
  • Attend church together
  • Meal prep the night before
  • Enjoy a savory meal together as a family
  • Use special dishes for Sabbath meals
  • Picnic in the park
  • Play worship music in your home
  • Make a sweet treat to share with friends or neighbors
  • Connect with grandparents
  • Invite a missionary to lunch in your home
  • Practice random acts of kindness
  • Read scripture and pray together
  • Journal what God has done in your life
  • Say ‘no’ to Sunday invitations
  • Say ‘no’ to scrolling social media and checking email
  • Say ‘no’ to buying or selling

There was a time when most businesses were closed on Sunday.  Instead of ensuring a day of rest, our society has progressively moved toward busyness, fatigue, and anxiety.  As a mom who works, I relied on Sundays to “get ready” for my week.  Shopping, laundry, food prep, and projects demanded my time and attention. By Sunday night, I would crawl into bed, bleary-eyed, and dog-tired (Matthew 11:28-29).   

ways for families practice sabbath

Recently, I decided to pay attention to the Sabbath.  I am resisting the urge to get things done.   I am practicing being fully present with my family and with God.  I am trusting God to redeem my time.  I have found freedom in the effort to obey God’s commandment to stop.  I am rediscovering the joy of the Lord.  I no longer dread Sundays, but look forward to them with hope and delight (Isaiah 58:13).

Practice the Sabbath, not only because He commands it, but because you will be blessed (Isaiah 56:2).

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Topics: Faith