As a fourth-generation Seventh-day Adventist, I have had great appreciation for the Sabbath as a student, and now as a wife and mother. This affection for the Sabbath increased impressively when our family had the privilege of living in
Right at sunset, Jewish families gather to enter sacred time together. The mother lights the Sabbath candles and prays a blessing over her family. The husband blesses his wife, reading or singing to her from Song of Songs or Proverbs 31:10 and following, reminding his wife of his appreciation and affection for her. The wife blesses her husband with the words of Psalm 112 and expresses her joy in his large affections. The father then prays a blessing on the children, while surrounding them with his arms or by placing his hands on their shoulders or head. Every Friday night as the Sabbath begins, after a busy week of complex schedules and work patterns, the family leaves that all behind and renews their family bonds. Deeply moved by exposure to these centuries-old traditions, I grew in the awareness that the Sabbath is much more than not Sunday! And I came to welcome its arrival with much more joy!
All week long, one continually juggles unrelenting responsibilities and demands of work. Time almost becomes an “enemy” as deadlines and obligations keep piling up. Yet, though Friday presents additional tasks to prepare for the Sabbath, these are blessedly different, for they remind me that Sabbath is just ahead, a day when I can luxuriate in time rather than fight it. Instead of being chained to a busy, demanding routine, I will soon be able to break loose and breathe freely again. I like the way Francine Klagsbrun states it: “The freedom of Shabbat comes from the potential it holds to control time, perhaps the most far reaching form of freedom anyone can experience.”
The Sabbath also reminds me of my origin from the hand of God Himself, and that He has bid me and all His human children to celebrate His grand creation with Him (Exod 20:8-11). Thus the preparations for Sabbath take on a remarkable flavor of preparing for the “royal delight” of the Sabbath—as God Himself expresses it in Isaiah 58:13. The house is readied, the meals are prepared, and aromas of favorite foods fill the rooms, reminding the whole family that the Sabbath is nearly here. Not just any dishes on the table will do in this “Palace in Time.” Only our best china and crystal, along with fresh flowers and candlelight, would be elegant enough to capture the regal nature of the glorious Sabbath hours.
And then, right before sundown, the phone is turned off, so its incessant ringing, which is necessary all week, cannot interrupt the peaceful atmosphere of Sabbath time, as God draws near and fulfills His promise to dwell with us. Sabbath candles are lit and shed their golden ambiance. And our family gathers to again renew warm fellowship that is so hard to come by during a busy week.
Thus, each week of work ends with a magnificent climax. Sabbath is more than a day to collapse and recuperate. Rather it is the zenith of living. It is the gift of our Creator to this weary world: the opportunity to enter His royal “palace in time,” as the renowned Jewish author Abraham Heschel describes it.
God has also promised to restore the resplendence of the original
I had always thought that the Sabbath was something I did for God. But I am learning that the Sabbath is much more than thinking about what I cannot or should not do. Rather, it is an extraordinary gift of hallowed time from my Creator. My work will never be done. But every Sabbath I can cease worrying about my work and all the clamor to get things done during the past six days, and rest in God’s “finished work.” I can truly rest because the “government is upon His shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6). Think of the radical declaration the seventh-day Sabbath proclaims. God “commands a blessing!” He doesn’t want us to work incessantly, desiring that we rest a seventh of our lives! As a “creation ordinance,” it comes anew each week to all mankind. When the “Lord of the Sabbath” later walked on earth, He reminded us again that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). Perhaps Adventists have been slow to recognize the tones of tenderness in God’s voice as He extends His Sabbath invitation.
 See Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath (
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