Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing season and harvest you must rest. (Exodus 34:21)

As I read this scripture about the Sabbath recently, I felt the Holy Spirit speaking:

‘This coming year will be one of great fruitfulness. Because of the opportunities that will become available, you will be tempted to go with the flow of what is happening. As a result, you could be continuously busy.

However, My purpose for you includes intentional rest.’

Which Season are you in?

Today I believe God is speaking to us prophetically about making room in our lives for specific time with Him, as well as time apart for replenishment and to be with our families.

Are you facing events, responsibilities or relationships that will demand a great deal of time and energy from you?

Taking time out during our busiest seasons does not make natural sense. In fact, we are most likely—when opportunities are available, or crises occur—to put off our break times until the busy time has passed.

Because of this tendency, God gave His people a specific instruction:

‘Even when it is plowing or harvest time—the busiest seasons of the year, you must still make the Sabbath a priority. Rest is not an option.’ (Ex 34:21)

The Season of Preparation

Plowing represents our times of preparation.

Plowing in agriculture has to be done at the right time and a certain way for a crop to succeed. Likewise, preparing well for any new venture, ministry or relationship is vital to the health and success of what is to come. During these seasons of intense preparation, we may be busy and focused.

The Season of Opportunity or Crisis

Harvest is a time of urgency as the crop can spoil if it is not gathered up in the right way or at the due time.

Harvest can speak to us of making the most of opportunities when they arise—or managing a crisis well at the time it occurs.

During these seasons, there is a sense that our time is limited.

  • An opportunity has arisen that may not last if we do not take it now.
  • A relationship or group of relationships may need immediate care.
  • A crisis has occurred that requires urgent attention.
  • If we are involved in ministry or evangelism, we are seeing a response from people that indicates the Holy Spirit is at work.

In such times, should we continue to take times apart with God, hours of rest every day, weekly days off, and the holidays that we need?

What does the Sabbath mean for us today?

Some things that the Biblical Sabbath includes are:

  • A complete rest from labour
  • Special time with family
  • Time to worship and honour God, and
  • Celebration times with the community of faith.

For Christian believers, Rest (Sabbath) is no longer a religious law to be obeyed. However under the New Covenant of grace, it remains a Biblical principle that we should attend to. [1]

The Sabbath is a gift of replenishing from our loving Father. It is also the wise plan of our Creator God, who knows intimately our strengths and limitations. It is also a reminder of the importance God places upon our relationships, both with Him and our families.

The Sabbath in scripture referred to the 7th day of the week. However, God’s principle of taking time out applies not only to weeks, but also to days, months and years.

In the Gospels, we see that Jesus regularly took time apart to be with His Father. He also encouraged His disciples to take time away to rest and be with Him. (Mark 6:31).

Are these Rest-Robbers in your Life?

We may acknowledge the importance of taking time out, but too often our best intentions are overturned. In the seeming urgency of life or ministry, we become busy, neglect rest, and in the process limit God. At worst, we may become burned out.

Here are two things that can hinder our ability to take time out:

1. Lack of Trust

Taking a break for many of us is a trust issue. Can we trust the Lord of the Harvest to take care of His harvest for the seasons we take our hands away?

If we are short-handed, our need to be constantly engaged can seem critical. Can I trust God (and others) with the responsibilities that are in my care? Who is the Chief provider—God or me?

We may have a fear of losing the harvest, as if the ministry (business, crisis) depended upon us somehow. We may be fearful of losing ground, or of what the enemy might do (a better question is, what can God do if we yield to Him?)

In Exodus 16:29, we read: ‘Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days.’

God provided for the Israelite’s time of rest in advance.

The reality is, that it requires faith to take time out during a busy period of fruitfulness. God in His grace can not only make up the difference, but multiply our effectiveness as we depend upon Him.

2. Lack of Discipline

Sometimes the reason for our lack of time out is simply that we haven’t prioritised it ahead of time. Rest is meant to be regular, not spontaneous. This requires scheduling.

It is still early in 2013. Now is the time for me to ensure that my diary is filled out with the things that count—that includes significant time out.

  • Discipline means the ability to ‘unplug’ daily and during break times from constantly attending to our online business, ministry, or social media.
  • Discipline also includes saying ‘No’ to urgent or limited opportunities, when the more important issue—that of of God’s prescribed rest—is at stake.

This year and beyond, significant opportunities are going to arise for your life and ministry. Now is the time to say ‘Yes’ to God’s invitation to take time apart with Him, as well as to schedule the time you need to be replenished and spend time with family.

[1] For Biblical references to the Sabbath, see: Gen 2:2-3, Ex 31:13-17, Ex 20:8-11, Deut 5:13-14

This week’s photograph is of my husband enjoying time out on our recent holiday together.

Related Posts:

Life In Eden: Heaven On Earth Is Our Inheritance

The Most Important Decision You Can Make As The Year Begins

Preventing Ministry Burnout: 6 Questions You can Ask

7 Signs Of Spiritual Dryness

Do you have any testimonies, or ideas that can help others take regular and significant time for Sabbath rest? Leave a comment in the comments box. If the comments section is not visible, click on this link and scroll down.

© Helen Calder Enliven Blog – Prophetic Teaching

On team with David McCracken Ministries: Prophetic Ministry That Empowers The Church

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3 thoughts on “Rest is not an Option: Father’s Sabbath Plan For Your Life”

  1. “However, God’s principle of taking time out applies not only to weeks, but also to days, months and years.”

    Good stuff Helen….I am in a season of just a part time job and lots of spare time…….starting to think I am in a season of rest and just spending time with God and family. I think in hindsight God has been trying to get me to be quiet and still for a couple of years. After a difficult 2012 I am giving in and I am finally getting “the hang” of resting. Probably due to not trusting, but that’s cool. God and me can work on that. 🙂

    1. That sounds great, Arie. 🙂 May 2013 be a year of refreshing, replenishing and empowering for you as you rest in Him.

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