Sabbath’s First Mention?

Where does the Sabbath first get mentioned? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

While there is a Sabbath described in Genesis 2, the term itself does not show up there. So where does it first appear? You can look all throughout the book of Genesis and you will be disappointed.

“Okay. Maybe the word Sabbath doesn’t appear, but how about the concept of the seventh day of the week?”

Nope. Outside of the creation week, it doesn’t show up at all. The number seven shows up very frequently. Seventh as in the ordinal does not.

The first appearance shows up in Exodus 16 and in this reference, it is to the Israelites going out and gathering manna in the Exodus wanderings. Food isn’t exactly the most abundant, so God would have this strange breadlike substance come down and it was called Manna, which meant “What is it?” Every day, the Israelites could go out and get some. However, if they tried to save it until morning, it was disgusting and filled with maggots. There was one exception to this.

On the sixth day, they could store it overnight and it would not have maggots or stink in the morning. Moses tells everyone on the sixth day to gather enough for two days. The seventh day is to be a Sabbath. They are not to go out and do the work of gathering food. Of course, there are some who try, and they are disappointed, as is Moses.

What’s interesting about this is Moses doesn’t have any need to explain this. At this point in the text, nothing is said about why this is the Sabbath day or even what the Sabbath day is. So what are the options?

It could be that this was already known and part of the background knowledge? It didn’t need to be explained. Granted, odds are that they did not get to enjoy their Sabbaths while they were slaving away under Pharaoh in Egypt. They could have well welcomed a six-day work week.

It could be that this was already known, but the further explanation is known to be coming in the Ten Commandments, so why mention it here? This one also makes sense. Moses knows well what is coming in the story and sees no need to reinvent the wheel.

It could be that this was unknown, but that doesn’t really make much sense as it is said without explanation at all. Again, one could say it isn’t because that is coming in chapter 20. No doubt, the reader who read the account at the time knew the reason, but we don’t know what the Israelites were thinking.

I am much more inclined to go with 1 or 2 and if I had to pick one, I would probably pick the first one. Still, this time is worth mentioning because it is the first time that the Sabbath is mentioned for the people in the Bible. In this case, don’t go out and pick up food and get enough for two days on the day before.

This is the first story, but it won’t be the last, and sadly, some stories for Israel concerning Sabbath will not be that good and will sadly set the precedent for a history of failure on the Sabbath.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why A Day Of Rest?

Why do we have a day of rest? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On the seventh day, God rested from all that He had done.


It’s not because He was tired. The creation week did not wear out God a bit. God did not have to use up a usable supply of energy in order to create. The main reason we can rest is because we are tired, but not so for God.

John Walton in his work The Lost World of Genesis One suggests that this is the way it was shown that a deity was dwelling in a temple. In this case, the cosmos is the temple. Our world is where God is meant to dwell with man, and there’s no reason to think that that has changed.

We could say in a sense God was making this place more than just a temple, but a home. I remember being in Elementary School and my parents had saved up enough that we could get our own house, and we were having someone build it. I came home every day and bit by bit, I saw the progress that was being done on that house. However, the house could have been completed and for some reason, we never moved in. It would have been a house. It would not have been our home.

Rest is a way of appreciation. Home is supposed to be where you go where you can be yourself. You don’t have the pressures of the world all around you. Home is a sort of retreat.

The day of seven is meant for us to have a day where the world doesn’t depend on us. We do this every night when we go to sleep and we trust God that He will keep the world turning while we sleep. It is truly one of the most vulnerable times we can ever have.

Today, it doesn’t matter as much to us really to take a day of rest. We have our bank accounts and our credit cards and many of us have enough saved up in the bank that we can rest. We have it that if we get sick, then we are sick and we call in that day. We hate the pay cut, though some appreciate a bit of a reprieve from their work. I realize not all are like that, but here in the West, many of us have it good.

We forget the ancient world.

You want to eat? You can’t go to the supermarket. You have to work to grow your food and process it and follow all the steps on cooking. Want some meat? Then you’d better be ready to sacrifice one of your own animals or else be a good hunter. Want some water? You can’t just turn on a tap. You have to go and get that water yourself. What about clothing? You’re going to have to make your own clothes.

Keep in mind, this is while dealing with any day-to-day problems and not having air conditioning in the summer or heating in the winter. Your houses would not be that big and all the families might have to share one room. Despite that, you would need to have a lot of children because first off, a large number will die in childhood, but after that, that’s pretty much the closest you have to social security.

This was rough.

Now imagine going to that world where the majority of people live on money they earn from day-to-day. Now you tell these people, “I want you to take one day a week and rest.” In a way, that could be financial suicide for these people. “What? Take a break? We’re working furiously just to try to get by?”

Yep. Take a break.

Oh, but it gets worse.

Your land also has to take a break.

Every seventh year, you weren’t supposed to toil the land. Nope. Just leave it be. Expect the land to produce the food for you independently. Trusting one day a week is monumental. Trusting one year out of seven is unthinkable.

Yet Israel was told to do it.

We can afford to relax at time in our day and age. Israel had to be forced to. Israel had to be forced to not do business with their neighbors on that day. Israel would show the world they could trust in God and still make it.

The Sabbath gave them a chance to recuperate from their work and also to show their trust in God. Their sovereign was providing for them regardless. This would be a very public demonstration to the world of the loyalty of YHWH to His people when they honored the covenant.

I will contend as we go through that we still need to rest. It’s one reason I don’t do debates on Sunday. I just relax and enjoy myself entirely, which is hard since I do enjoy a good debate. If you are an SDA minister, technically, you will need to do another day for your one out of seven since you definitely can’t rest on Saturday since that’s when you do your work of preaching.

We are not commanded to take one particular day as the Sabbath, but it is a good principle to have a Sabbath. It is a good principle to take a break. It reminds us we are not in charge of the story. He is. None of us can work ourselves too hard and even those of us in ministry can get burnout.

Take a Sabbath. God set the example. Take some time away and make your house a home.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/5/2012: John Koessler

What’s coming up Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, we’re getting started on putting new episodes up. I’ve got some of the sound issues worked out so hopefully we’ll be on schedule again soon. Having said that, what are we going to be talking about when this Saturday comes?

In the apologetics world, we can often be running at full throttle most of the time. There are people to answer and books to read and debates to watch. Let’s not forget that many a spouse has become an apologetics widow. We get so busy doing this and that and we fear falling behind and before too long, we just can’t take it anymore. Do we need to maybe take a break?

Is it proper to ever rest when the Kingdom is what we’re working for? Can a soldier ever stop on the battlefield and rest? If there are souls at stake, by what reasoning can it be said that we should not be working with all our might at our duties? To answer these questions, I’ve brought on someone who does not work primarily in apologetics, but whose book I think can help, and that’s Dr. John Koessler. Who is he?


According to his bio:

John Koessler serves as Chair & Professor in the Division Applied Theology and Church Ministry at Moody Bible Institute where he has been a member of the faculty since 1994. He is an award-winning author who has written ten books including The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap (InterVarsity, 2016), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us(Moody, 2013), Folly Grace and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching (Zondervan, 2011), and True Discipleship: The Art of Following Jesus (Moody, 2003). He has contributed articles to Christianity Today, Mature Living, Leadership Journal, Discipleship Journal, Decision, and Moody Magazine. He also writes a monthly column for Today in the Word entitled “Theology Matters,” and is a regular contributor to that publication’s devotionals. Prior to joining the faculty of Moody, John was pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years.

How can the Christian properly integrate all that they need to do in their life with rest? What is rest? Is it proper to actually not be engaging in study and debate and actually just be taking a break with the loved ones? Furthermore, how does this work with worship? What is worship and are we really doing it? Could it be that sometimes we’re so eager to get people to come and fall on their knees before Jesus that we don’t often go and do that ourselves?

Join me this Saturday as I interview John Koessler on this. We’ll be talking about the proper role that rest plays in the life of a Christian and what difference it makes. We’ll also be talking about the need for worship and why it is that we should actively participate in worship. Be watching your Podcast feed for this one and please consider going and leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters ITunes page.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Book Plunge: The Radical Pursuit of Rest

What do I think of John Koessler’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a day and age where technology should have made it easier for us to do anything. We were expecting a Jetsons world where we just go and push a button and everything gets done for us. The irony is that with most every invention of technology meant to save time for us, we in fact often have less time left.  We want to produce constantly. Do we ever take the time to just rest?

Koessler argues that rest is essential and we get caught in a trap of productivity. Of course we should produce, but we are not machines. We cannot work 24/7. We in fact often live to work instead of realizing the purpose of work is often so that we won’t have to work. It is to free us for leisure and rest.

How many people go on vacation and still do work? Thus far, I have avoided this. The last vacation I managed to get to go on was my honeymoon with my wife a little over six years ago at Ocean Isle Beach. I made a commitment before I left and spoke about it with my parents and in-laws. No contact for us. Don’t call us. Just let us be. The only book I brought with me was my Bible. I had my IPhone with me, but I used it for GPS mainly. I did not check email. I did not check Facebook. There would be plenty of times later to put up pictures of the wedding and such. There were plenty of other people who could do ministry while I was gone. This week was to focus on me and my new bride.

I have no regrets from that decision.

Unfortunately, many do not make such a decision ever. They come home from the office and bring the office with them. This is even what happens in the case of ministry. A man can neglect his family because this is the work of God. He forgets his first work of God is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and to teach his children the fear of God.

Koessler’s book is a reminder for us to take a break. The anxiety we feel about the future is in fact a failure to trust in God. We don’t rest because we think we have to keep producing. We have to in order for God to also care for us. There is no rest and if we do stop and rest, we beat ourselves up with guilt.

In fact, Koessler tells us that sloth can be related to noonday madness. It can be seen as constant busyness. We keep busy for the sake of keeping busy. It’s like the employees in the office who hear the boss is coming and all of a sudden solitaire and emails go down, Pokemon Go gets turned off, and everyone starts acting like they’ve been working hard.

Koessler also writes about ambition. Now ambition I think is fine if you want to be excellent at what you do. We should all want that. The problem can often be when you don’t delight in others and their successes and only keep thinking about yourself. That ambition is often connected with our pride.

Koessler talks about worship as rest as well. Worship at churches often turns into a performance where we have to work the audience up and by the way, that isn’t enough because if you’re truly devoted to the church you’ll sign up for all these programs. Helping out the church with other programs is fine, but let’s remember that worship is a fine goal in itself.

Of course, something has to be said about the digital age. I know of the trap for as I sit here writing, I have my email and Facebook opened and I hear the news program my wife is watching. Multi-tasking is a way of life for me. There are times you just want to see what happened on Facebook and realize you’ve spent about an hour or so browsing on it and to what end?

For my final positive, I appreciate Koessler’s honesty. He does write about having a hard time sleeping at night. He does write about struggles with ambition. He does write about worship services and sermons that he frankly finds boring at times. These show me that Koessler is with me on the journey.

Despite that there are many positives to this book and it’s a good wake-up call, I do have some recommendations for change. For instance, what exactly is rest? Koessler differentiates it from sleep, but it’s still not clear what it really is. What also would be its relation to play? If I take a break from reading and studying and go play a game, am I resting? If I go out on a date with the wife, is that rest? Would snuggling together on the couch to watch a movie be considered rest? I don’t remember any real clarification on what rest is and I definitely would like to see how play fits into this.

Still, Koessler’s book leaves you with plenty of food for thought. I have been thinking quite often about his concept of worship. I’m pleased to know Koessler is on the same journey as well.

The Need For Rest

How important is it to just take a break? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Sunday, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the need for rest in our generation where we have devices that can keep us in touch with all of the world. This is definitely so for those of us in ministry because we can be tempted to say “This is the work of God. How dare we stop in our work?” Many of us who do not see ourselves under the Jewish Law might look at the Sabbath command and think that that was something for them back then and we don’t really need it today. While I’m not advocating that we should all rest on Saturday, I am advocating that we all take a day to rest and frankly, while most will do so on Sunday, for a pastor, it will obviously have to be another day of the week.

Since I’m not a pastor leading a church I do take a break on Sundays. I don’t do debates on Facebook and I don’t do debates on blogs. That is a day for me to get away. If someone comes to me with a question, I will ask them if they can get back to me on Monday. This is time that I need to wind down. Honestly, debates and questions can wear you out after a time. My day of rest is the day that I do not have to be owing to anyone. I will often spend it with a book or listening to the latest episode of Unbelievable? Usually when I do that, I will be going through a game at the same time.

What that activity of rest tells us is that we are not in charge of the world. We are not the saviors of the world. You see, I realize that there are several several people who are doing apologetics just like I am. This is the work of God and God was doing it before I came on the scene and He’ll be doing it after I leave this scene. God is not dependent on me in anyway. Rest is a humble reminder of that. It’s a reminder that to get to serve in the Kingdom is a gift of grace in itself. Yet God is not a kind of taskmaster that expects us to work 24/7. He knows that we need to rest.

Along those lines, I want to remind you that if you’re in ministry, it’s important to not have your ministry be what you’re married to. If you are a married person, there are many people that can do the work of ministry that you do, but there is only one person who is married to your spouse. If you’re a man, no one else can be the husband of your wife. If you’re a woman, no one else can be the wife of your husband. With regard to children, if you’re a woman, no one else can be the mother to your children. If you’re a man, no one else can be the father to your children. These are responsibilities you’re directly assigned in Ephesians. If you succeed at everything else but are not the spouse or parent you need to be, then overall you have failed in ministry.

Therefore, if you are a spouse, make sure that your spouse comes before your ministry. If you are a parent, make sure your children also come before your ministry. Ministry is not an excuse to not do the things you’ve been commanded to do. In fact, it should be a greater call for you to do them. How will people take your ministry seriously if they know that you are not responsibly caring for your own family?

So Sunday is my day to take a break. I advise you to pick one and stick with it. The world can wait and your other duties will be there the next day. You need to take time for you lest you burn out. God didn’t make you to run forever. Rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters