Does God want us to dread the Sabbath? No! He wants it to be a blessing. But if we don’t have a love relationship with Jesus, we’ll be watching the clock. When the Sabbath approaches, we’ll be thinking, “Oh, heavens! I’ve got all this stuff to do. Is it Sabbath already? Now I don’t have time to do it.” That’s not the attitude God wants us to have. It’s as if the Sabbath is a burden rather than a blessing.
And who hasn’t heard a young child say, “Is it still Sabbath?” They’re looking for the moment they can do whatever they want. I’ve even caught myself looking wistfully out the window and wondering if the Sabbath is over so I can get on to my next project. I’m ashamed of having done that. Should we have that kind of attitude?
It means we need a change in our hearts. The Bible tells a story in which this very thing was a problem. In Amos 8:5, we read about people saying, “When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat?” They were waiting for the sun to go down and the Sabbath to be over so they could do their own thing.
Suppose a young man is smitten by a young woman, but because of their schedules, they can only spend a few hours a week together. He arranges his schedule to get all of his business aside, but while they’re together, she’s talking to him and he doesn’t seem to be paying attention. As they’re walking together, she says, “You seem like you’re a thousand miles away.”
He confesses, “Well, you know, I’m thinking about the work projects I’ve got this week.” Or if they’re sitting together over a dinner that she’s spent time preparing and he keeps looking at the clock saying, “Is our date over yet? You mind if I leave early?” What would that say about his heart? Would that hurt her feelings? His attitude indicates something is wrong with the relationship.
We want the Lord to have our hearts, and when He has our hearts we won’t be asking those kinds of questions about the Sabbath. God wants the Sabbath to be a delight. And I believe the more we come to know God, the more delightful the Sabbath will become.
The Sabbath is a time for rest, so it should start and end with peaceful worship. There ought to be decisive beginnings and endings too—we should “guard the edges” of the Sabbath. We shouldn’t be scrambling around an hour after the Sabbath has begun and saying, “Well, I guess we should stop and have a little prayer.” Instead of really worshiping, singing, and reading something of substance, we’re in a state of panic. It takes effort and planning to give God the honor He’s due.
Why push God to the last minute anyway? If I’m getting on a plane, I like to get there early. If I’m going to wait, I don’t always want to wait at home. And that’s the way it is with the Sabbath. When it’s coming to an end, don’t be watching the clock and saying, “Blow the horn! It’s over! Let’s do our own thing.” That’s the wrong attitude. It’s an insult to God.
If you keep the Sabbath with your heart, you might be accused of being legalistic and Pharisaical and fanatical, but it will always be worth it in your relationship with God. Jesus is the one you are seeking to please.