Robert Morris - Take The Day Off
I'm gonna do something that I've never done before. I think this is my 18th book to release, but I'm gonna actually read you the first two paragraphs of chapter 2, because this is a worldwide epidemic. So, here's how chapter 2 starts: "The report submitted to the government of Japan simply called him 'Mr. A.' to protect his identity. Let's call him Mr. Asako. He had worked for several years at a major Japanese snack food processing company, often putting in as many as 110 hours each week. Just to put that into perspective, that's more than 2-1/2 40-hour work weeks jammed into one. To log 110 hours in a week requires working nearly 16 hours per day, for 7 days. He did that week after week, year after year. They found Mr. Asako dead at his workstation, the victim of a heart attack. He was 34. In Japan, they call it 'karoshi'".
I thought I'd put the word up. One of our elders, as he grew up his parents were missionaries in Japan and I think that's the way he told me to say it, "karoshi". "The Chinese have their own word for it". I don't know how to say that one. What? Some of you speak Chinese? You speak Chinese? How do you say it? What she said. "Guolaosi", okay. That's the best I can do. And in South Korea, they call it "gwarosa", all right? But, listen to this. "All three terms were coined fairly recently to describe something so new that their languages didn't even have a word for it. These words describe the act of literally working yourself to death. All three Asian cultures discovered they needed a word to describe an increasingly common phenomenon there, namely, people dropping dead on their jobs as a result of working insane hours under intense pressure, with little to no rest".
Now, I want to say those three phrases again - working insane hours, under intense pressure, with little to no rest. Sounds like life, doesn't it? So, does God have a plan to keep us refreshed? He does. It's called a Sabbath; one day a week. And I want you to know that the first time that the word "Sabbath" was ever in the Bible was not the Ten Commandments. It's in one time before the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are in Exodus 20. We're gonna back up to Exodus 16:23. "Then he said to them, 'This is what the Lord has said: "Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest"'".
I really want you to see the word "rest". "A holy", that means it's set apart, day to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today. This is when He gave them manna from heaven, remember? "And boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning". "So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it". Before when they tried to keep it for two days, it would stink and there were worms in it. But on Friday, it lasted for two days. That's the only day it did. "Then Moses said, 'Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field'".
I just want you to notice this phrase, because that represented provision from the Lord. Here's what he said - on the Sabbath, I'm not going to provide for you on that day, I provided for you on the day before. In other words, listen to me, if you worked that day, God's not gonna help you. You're supposed to rest. He already provided for you to only work six days a week. "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none". No extra provision from the Lord, He's already provided it. "Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none". Again, God didn't provide it that day. He had already provided. "And the Lord said to Moses, 'How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws'"? He hasn't even given them the Ten Commandments yet. "See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath". In other words, it's a gift from God. "Therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man", every person, every mankind, every human, "remain in his place. Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day".
So, a simple question, why did God do this? Obviously, He didn't want us to have any fun on this earth. No, just the opposite! He wanted us to enjoy our life on this earth. So, I have four points this week. Rather than three, I have four. Here's number one - it's a commandment. This made God's "Top 10" list. Exodus 20:8, and I just want you to notice before I read this, listen to me. This is gonna shock you. The fourth commandment, "Honor the Sabbath, " doesn't say anything about going to church. It's nowhere in the verse. Now, I believe we should go to church. But, the Fourth Commandment doesn't say anything about church attendance. It's talking about rest. Exodus 20:8, by the way, this is the longest commandment. God spent more time on this one than any other commandment, because He knew we would argue with Him. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy", or set apart.
Holy is not a big word, it's a small word. It just means set apart. "Six days you shall labor and do all your" e-mails. I just wanted to bring it up to modern times. "But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall" turn off your phone. "You shall do no work". This is a commandment. This is one of God's Top 10. This has the same weight as don't commit adultery, don't lie, don't steal, don't covet, don't murder. It's in the same list! Honor God first, don't have any idols, don't take God's name in vain, and honor your mother and father, same list. "In it you shall do no work, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle". He doesn't even want your cows working! "Nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it", which means set it apart. It comes from the same root word as "holy" - set it apart.
Okay, think about this. We could have had a ten day work week. We could have had a four day work week. God invented the seven day work week, and He invented one of those days to rest. God did this. And then, He puts it in his "Top 10" list, and here's what's amazing to me. Christians really believe that they can violate this commandment, but no other commandment. And we don't keep the commandments to be saved, but we do keep the commandments to be blessed, because there are blessings when you keep them, and there are consequences when you don't. Would you agree with that? If you commit adultery, there are consequences. If you lie, there are consequences. If you kill someone, there are consequences. So, why is this the only one you don't think there are consequences?
There are. This is the same list. Just to make this point, now, just to make this point. For me, Monday is my Sabbath, all right? So, I don't come into the office on Monday, and one week, one Tuesday when I was in the office, I was standing around with four or five pastors and we were talking, and one of them said, "Pastor Robert, I know Monday is your Sabbath, but would you do this on a Monday"? And I said, "Why don't you just ask me to commit adultery while you're at it? And let's knock off a 7-Eleven and kill some people on the way. You asked me to violate one of the Ten Commandments. Pick out any of the other Ten Commandments and see if you would have asked me".
I want you to think about that. Go through the list in your mind. I just named them all, just a moment ago. Go through the other nine and see if you would violate one of those. You would never take God's name in vain. You would never lie purposely, or steal, or kill someone, or commit adultery. You wouldn't do that. You know not to do those things. So, why is this the only commandment that you think we can violate and there are no consequences? There are consequences. Here's number two: it's a witness. Exodus 31:14, "You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it", wait, can I just stop for a minute? Adultery, murder, not keeping the Sabbath, and, by the way, rebellion to parents carry the death sentence.
I mean, if you want to, the next time your child does something, you can say, "You know, if we were in the Old Testament, you'd be dead". It wasn't disobedience, by the way, it's continual rebellion. But, God put this one right up there. He put a death sentence on this one. Think about that. And I can just tell you why: because some of you are killing yourselves slowly. You're working yourselves to death. So what He's trying to tell you is if you violate this, you're gonna die. That's what He's trying to tell you. "For whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done for six days". Isn't this clear? Over and over and over again. You know, you all are so quiet, I think there's a lot of conviction in the building right now. "But the seventh is the Sabbath of rest".
By the way, what does the word "Sabbath" mean? It doesn't mean worship. It means cease. Cease from labor, that's what the word means. Cease from labor - cease, desist. "It is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death". It says it twice in this one passage! "Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath", and remember, we've been grafted in is what Romans says, "to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant". Can anyone tell me what the word "perpetual" means? On and on, that's a good definition. On and on. "It is a sign", remember I said it's a witness, "between Me and the children of Israel", how long? "Forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed".
Okay, this was actually the major witnessing sign for thousands of years, because someone would say something to a Jewish person, "Hey, let's finish this deal on Saturday". And the Jewish person, just to bring it up again to modern times, would e-mail back and say, "We're closed on Saturday," which was the seventh day of the week. And they would e-mail back, "What do you mean you're closed on Saturday? Nobody closes on Saturday". And they say, "We close on Saturday, because it's the Sabbath". They'd e-mail back, "What's the Sabbath"? They'd say, "Well, it's the seventh day of the week, and the Lord made the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day", and they'd e-mail back, "Which Lord"? And they'd say, "The Lord God, the Lord God of Israel, the God of the universe, the only God".
This was their witnessing sign right here. This was it, that they could make more money and be more profitable working only six days a week than seven, because God would provide if they would obey what He said. And then I just want you to notice it says on the seventh day the Lord rested and was refreshed. What had God been doing for six days? Creating. How does God create? He speaks. How do you speak? You exhale. Matter of fact, on the sixth day He created Adam and breathed into him the breath of life. So for six days, He'd been breathing out. On the seventh day, God breathed in and was refreshed. Have you ever said this - if I could just catch my breath? Well, you can if you keep the Sabbath, every week, and you can do nothing.
One of the major questions I get asked when I talk about the Sabbath is, "Well, Pastor, what do you do on your day off"? My answer is, "That's the wrong question. The question is not what do you do, the question is what do you not do on the Sabbath"? And the Bible is very explicit about it. You do not do work. That's what you do not do, anything related to your vocation, or even your calling. Now, I would still witness on the Sabbath, because that's what Christians do. But, anything even related to your vocation or calling, you take a rest. One day a week, you rest, do nothing. Do a hobby, do something that refreshes you. You have to figure it out. And, because we're in the New Testament now, it might not be Saturday for everyone. Some people have to work on Saturdays. So, you can choose another day. And sometimes we do have things on Mondays, which is when I normally do it.
You know, just a few weeks ago we had our pastor's conference. I'm working on a Monday, but I took Wednesday as my Sabbath. I'm not gonna go seven days without a rest day, because it's God's Word. Here's number three - it's serious. It's serious. Numbers 15:32, "Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day". I want everyone to notice what he was doing, gathering sticks. "And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. They put him under guard". Of course, he was a stick gatherer! You've got to guard that guy! "Because it had not been explained what should be done to him". It had been explained pretty clearly. "Then the Lord said to Moses". Just want to remind you who said this - the Lord. "'The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.' So, as the Lord commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died".
Remember, 1 Corinthians 10 says everything that happened in the Old Testament happened as an example for us and is written as instruction. So, no, you don't get stoned to death if you work seven days a week, but you are gonna kill yourself. You are gonna die sooner than you should. Years ago, I was trying to go to lunch with this pastor. It was so long ago, we had Day-Timers. Does anyone remember Day-Timers? Okay. So anyway, we had our Day-Timers out, he and I, and we were saying, well, what about, you know, Monday? Well, I've got something on that Tuesday. No, I've got something on that Wednesday, no, I'm out of town, you know. I said, "Well, what about Thursday? What do you have scheduled Thursday"? He said, "Nothing". I said, "Great! Let's have lunch Thursday". He said, "No, I can't do Thursday". I said, "Well, why can't you"? He said, "Well, because I've got nothing scheduled".
And I didn't get it. I said, "Uh-huh, let's do lunch Thursday". He said, "No, Robert, you're not following me. Thursday, I'm scheduled to do nothing. Thursday, I'm going to do nothing. I'm scheduled to do nothing on Thursday. Nothing is on my schedule for Thursday". And then he said, "When we get together for lunch, I want to tell you about it".
So, we got together another day and he told me. He said, "When I was 50 years old, I was lying in a hospital bed and they told me I was dying. My organs were shutting down, and they didn't know why. And one night I said to the Lord, 'Lord, why are You doing this to me? I've served You my whole life'. And the Lord said, 'Oh, son, I'm not doing this to you. You did this to you, because you haven't rested one day a week. You've already worked a lifetime. You're dying'". And this pastor said, "'Well, Lord, if I repent, truly repent, would You be gracious and heal me'? And I love the Lord's answer. He said, 'Of course. Of course, I would'". He said he felt strength come in his body. He got up, he unplugged himself, got dressed, and walked out of the hospital. He was 65 when I was meeting with him for lunch. Never been back to the hospital since, and he died a ripe old age, and I'm not gonna say what that age is, 'cause if I say it, you might be that age and you might think, I'm not ripe.
All right, here's number four, last point - it's a blessing. It's a blessing. The Sabbath, taking a day off, is a blessing. Mark 2:23, "It happened that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, 'Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath'"? Now remember, it's working that's not lawful. It wasn't eating. So, you remember, Jesus never violated the law. "But He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry, he and those with him; how he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and he ate the showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and also he gave some to those who were with him'? And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man; and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath'".
Here's what He's saying. I didn't make you to serve the Sabbath, I made the Sabbath to serve you. It's a blessing, not a burden. It's like tithing. Let me say that, it's like tithing. People who tithe know that 90% with God's blessing will go farther than 100% without. And people who rest one day a week know they can get more done in six days with God's blessing than in seven days without. It's that simple. It's trusting God. So, you've got to come to that place where you trust Him. So, every five years I do a sabbatical. Let me tell you what I do on my sabbatical - nothing. No work, no writing books, no traveling and speaking, no preparing messages, no studying - nothing that I would do for my job. You can't believe how much your mind needs to rest, not just your body, and when you let your mind rest, how creative you can be again.
Many of you know what I'm talking about. There was a time when you were so creative! You used to come up with great ideas, but you're too tired now. You're just trying to stay on top of it all. So, you've got to take a break. So, the elders gave us eight weeks off. And so, the last week, we took an Alaskan cruise. And one day we're sitting on the deck and I look out at Alaska, and it's just, I don't know if you've ever seen it, It's just this huge territory, and we weren't very far from the shore, 'cause we were going up in the fjords, and watching the, you know, glaciers calf, and things like that, and it was just... So, I'm looking out at this huge expanse. And I just remember thinking, God, You're just so big! You know, You're just so great!
And I was just reading this book on Alaskan fishing boats, just relaxing, and I just felt like that, I remember thinking, I'm me again. I feel like I did before I started the church. We were five years into the church. And the church was growing and things were happening, you know, with books and things, and I was exhausted. But I remember thinking, I'm back, I'm back. I feel like me again. And the Lord said to me, "What day of your sabbatical is it"? And so, I said, "It's the 53rd day". And the Lord said to me, "Uh-huh; you owed 52 days. You owed one year of Sabbaths. You owed a year. One for every Sabbath, you owed one year. You owed 52 days. That's why you feel normal today". And I remember saying to the Lord, "You mean I owed You 52 days"? And the Lord said, "Oh, no, son. You didn't owe Me 52 days, you owed you 52 days. I gave this to you as a gift". Why would we not receive this gift?
Think about it. What a great commandment? We've got all these commandments, “You shall not, you shall not, you shall not.” And they're all for our good, but then we've got one commandment that says, “You shall take a day off.” What a great commandment. And so, I just want to encourage you, rest. Take a day off. God can do more in six days, than you can in seven. God created the Heavens and the Earth, and He created a seven day week with one those days for rest. He commanded us, He told us it was to be a blessing for us, not a burden. And he did it because he loves us, and he's able to provide manna. Which would be our type of provision, whatever your work is - whatever you do for a leaving - He's able to provide on the seventh day even without you having to go out and gather it or work for it on that day. So I want to encourage you, receive this gift from God and take the day off.