the God who is sleepless in Seattle

On Sunday afternoon I took a nap. I was not alone. My wife and two daughters also were tuckered out and took naps too. Sunday afternoon naps are almost traditions in our home. Some cultures have built-in siestas to rest midday. Scientists say I am asleep one-third of my our life.

God was the first Person to rest.

When God created the world He worked six-days and rested on the seventh. He rested not because He was tired or needed a day off to get His other work done, but set an example to His creation that would need rest. We humans are weak and need rest.

If it was up to mankind we would sleep less and work or play more. That’s why we say, “There are only 24 hours in a day.” But God knew our temptation would steer us into the direction of being either a workaholic or sloth, both being a distraction from true rest.

When God gave the Law to Moses, the fourth of the Ten Commandments said, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy.” Sabbath means rest. God knows we need a day of rest and refocus. Sometimes we think we might miss out on something in life if we do not cram-pack every minute of every day with something. Yet we can miss out on life itself if we do not obey this command.

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day about this very thing (Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”). They were so OCD about not working on the Sabbath that they wrote a ‘book of rules’ to protect themselves from disobeying the law, all the while they were missing the real purpose of the Sabbath: to worship God. We are over worked and under-worshipped. God created rest for worship.

Idols sleep, but God does not sleep.

In 1 Kings 18, there is a famous duel between the Prophet Elijah and hundreds of prophets of Baal. Elijah challenges the prophets to build an altar and call to their god to bring down fire upon the altar. The God who answers is God. Elijah urges the prophets of Baal to go first. They eagerly accept and spend all day trying to coerce their god into action. Nothing happens. Elijah cannot rest a poke: “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he meditating, or he is pursuing, or he is away on a journey, or he is sleeping, and must be awakened.” When the prophets of Baal had given up Elijah stepped up to the altar, ordered it to be drenched with water, and then called to God prayerfully. Immediately God rocketed down flames of fire that utterly consumed the altar. The God of Israel reigned that day as the One True and Living God.

The idol Baal was asleep. Sooner or later the idols men create begin to mimic the men who created them; asleep. What’s the cure? Wake up and worship the One True and Living God. He has characteristics like men because men are made in His image. Yet He is not like men. Men are to be like Him.

God does not sleep. When the Scripture that God does not sleep it refers to His unceasing care for His people (Ps. 121:4). He does not grow weary or tired of passionately pursuing their hearts so that His people respond in faith (Isa. 40:28; 7:13; Mal. 2:17).

Jesus got tired and slept, but He was still sovereign.

Jesus was human. Therefore He was subject to human weaknesses like hunger (Mt. 4:2), thirst (John 4:7; 19:28), pain (1 Pt. 4:1), and weariness (John 4:6). When Jesus got tired He slept.

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and His discipled crawled into a boat after a long day of ministry. Jesus quickly found a spot to curl up and take a snooze. While crossing the Sea of Galilee a storm arose abruptly, which was common for this body of water, and their boat was being swamped by waves. The disciples were freaking out and could not understand why or how Jesus could be asleep.

I once was on a plane flying over the Sahara Desert at night. The plane was experiencing a lot of turbulence. Items were falling off tray tables and the stewardesses had worried faces. Across the aisle a man sound asleep like a baby being rocked by a giant 747. My stomach was in knots and I wondered, “How could this man be asleep?”

The disciples woke Jesus up and said, “Don’t you care? We’re going to die!” (4:39) Jesus did not say a word. What He did next did not need words. He immediately calmed the storm. Not only did it silence the wind and waves, but Jesus’ authoritative control over nature silenced the disciples. Though Jesus was sleeping in the torrent He still was sovereign over the storm.

There is a valuable truth to remember about God. Even when He seems to be resting or sleeping on the job, He is still in control of the world and your life. He never peters out. His tank does not get low on gas. He is not sleepless in Seattle, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney, Sudan or Sri Lanka. He does not rest from His sovereign work. He is always awake and alert to the affair of the universe and the actions on mankind.

After Jesus calmed the Sea He said to the disciples,“Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (4:40) At the moment they went from freaking from swallowing too of water in the storm to a holy fear because they were in the presence of the Son of God. When they could talk again they said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

If you fear, fear the One True and Living God. Knowing that He never sleeps or slumbers, but is sovereign over all situations should bolster your faith.

sabbath

sarah-on-the-sabbath

It is interesting that God loves to remind us about important things. He knows our memories can be weak at times.  To remember is to take what we know and apply it to our lives. Fourth Commandment is to “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8-11)

In other words, we are to stop working and start worshiping. We are to stop pursuing our passions for one day and make God our passion. We are commanded to worship God with our time. We are not to do our own thing, but His thing on His day.

Does this command mean that I am given a mandate by God to be lazy at least one-day week? God did not give us this command so that we would sit around and do nothing. God is concerned about us. For at least one day a week God wants us to stop what we are pursuing and pursue Him. God gave us this command for several reasons:

1. It is for your good. God knows that we need a day of rest and refocus. Sometimes we think we might miss out on something in life if we do not cram-pack ever minute of every day with something. Yet we can miss out on life itself if we do not obey this command. Jesus confront the religious leaders of His day about this very thing (Mark 2:27 “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”). They were so OCD about not working on the Sabbath that they wrote a book of rules to protect themselves from disobeying the law, all the while they were missing the real purpose of the day: to worship God.

2. It grows your faith. We need more worship in our lives, period. We are over worked and under-worshiped. We make time to relax and spend time with friends, but infrequently do we carve out time for our Creator and life-Sustainer. When we trust God and put Him first, He wont let us down because worshiping God enriches our faith.

So how do we apply this Sabbath command to our lives?

1. Remember God (Get Deep). Over the past few weeks we have talked about who God is. He is not some chump, He is Creator-God. If we think about God in this way (i.e. love, grace, holy, etc.) our natural response will be to worship Him.

All over the Bible people worshipped in groups. In the OT they worshipped God in the temple or synagogue. In the NT they worshipped God in homes, on hillsides or wherever they could find a place. Within these worship “meetings” God gave His people life-changing principles and transforming relationships. God loves the church because it is there that we get deep with God and He gets deep with us. Worshipping with other people inspires our personal worship. (Heb.10:25 “Let us not give up on meeting together.”)

The Sabbath day is not a day to putts around, but a day to praise God (Is. 58:13-14). I have been blessed through my church involvement. Through spiritual growth, accountability, confront sin, encouragement when I am struggling spiritually, friendships and significant relationships, and much more. Worshiping God is not a one day a week thing (Sunday or Wednesday night), it is our daily joy.

2. Refocus Your Life (Go Deep). Gods day is a day to do spiritual inventory on your life. Sometimes we need to take the time to restock the selves of our lives spiritually. It is easy to empty out throughout the week.

It took God six days to create the universe and all that is in it. On the seventh day he rested. He looked back on all that He had done and said, “It is good.” After a long week of working we need to step back and ask, “Was it good? Am I thinking godly pure thoughts? Am I saying or doing things that do not honor God? Am I putting Him first? Am I ready to worship this day?”