Troublesome Topic: A Paradigm Shift Is Needed

A paradigm shift is a big deal. It is not just a change, and not just a major change. A paradigm shift is a mind-twisting, foundation-altering change.

Here is an example of a paradigm shift. For a very long time Switzerland was the place where fine timepieces were crafted. When the digital watch was introduced, the Swiss took one look at this new gadget and were confident that it would never sell. This watch did not have any moving parts! No springs. No gears. It was all electronic. The Swiss knew watches. They did not feel threatened by its presence; and they were not drawn to manufacture this new thing called a digital watch. It was too big of a change for them to grasp, it would have required a paradigm shift. The Swiss still make fine timepieces, but we all know that the lion’s share of the market in watches shifted to digital watches and more recently to smart watches. The Swiss gave away an opportunity because they were unwilling to make a paradigm shift.

Sometimes a paradigm shift is a number of changes that must be made in concert. That is the case with our understanding of rest. This book is made up of many components of that paradigm shift. A few examples are worth mentioning here:

1. A Shift from Thinking Sabbath Is an Outdated Set of Rules to Seeing Sabbath as Connection

Sabbath was not just one day in seven, for there were also special Sabbaths, or High Sabbaths (see Jn. 19:31).

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There were even Sabbath weeks, and Sabbath years (Lev 25:4).

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Thus a Sabbath was a time for resting, whether that came daily, weekly or yearly. Tony Alamo speaks of a daily, hallowed, permanent resting in Christ every day, of a daily refreshment, a daily renewal of the soul. This daily Sabbath from sin, Satan, and the cares of the world brings happiness, restfulness, confidence, stability, and a peaceable trust within our souls.

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Why did God make such a big deal about Sabbath? Rest is God’s purpose for us. He did not create us for frenetic activity; He created us for rest—to connect with Him.rnrnThe foundational concept is this: God’s primary purpose is oneness, closeness. Worshipful rest fulfills God’s purpose better than anything else. Granted, obedience is part of the picture, but active obedience can only take us so far; quiet worship, Bible reading, and prayer are the foundation on which our obedience must be built. Unfortunately, few Americans ever experience that aspect of their relationship with God. We enjoy very little time one-on-one with God and then we wonder why our spiritual life is so weak.rnrnRest is God’s answer to our quest for meaning. We strive to find meaning in accomplishments but in reality it is found in being closely connected to Him.

2. A Shift in What We Consider Our Top Priority

Most Americans, including believers in Jesus, have the attitude “Stop just before you drop.”  As long as you can avoid the “drop” you’re okay. This demonstrates that we really don’t have a clue what the Biblical teaching on rest is.

Because rest is connecting with God, because rest brings intimacy with God, rest is not one of many priorities for a Christian, rest is a Christian’s only priority. Everything else, including service and witness, will flow out of our closeness to God.

There is always more that can be done. We never manage to accomplish everything on our to-do list. We just add more things to our lists. But it’s not about our to-do lists, it’s about getting close to God.

We tend to pack our days and weeks with activity and give God the leftovers of our time, if there are any. God deserves more than our leftovers!

What is needed is not a simple change in pace, not just cutting things out of our schedule. What is needed is a paradigm shift, a shift that makes getting close to God my only task.

Rest is not just the means to an end, rest is the means and the end!

Getting closer to God is my only responsibility; everything else in life is an add-on.

 If we are not close to God, whatever we try to do, we will be doing in our own strength. The prophet Zechariah said, “‘not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the YHVH (the Lord) over all armies.” (Zech. 4:6).

We need to get our eyes off of tasks, off of to-do lists, off of perceived responsibilities, and we need to focus on, gaze upon, and contemplate our Savior. As the old hymn says,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.”

3.  A Shift in Our Understanding of Time

Time is a gift. It is not ours to save or spend, invest or manipulate. We cannot make time or take time, find time or lose time, for it is a gift. If time is a gift then all we can do is enjoy it, or squander it (I suppose the phrase “use time wisely” also fits). For this reason, I am striving to train myself to stop saying “spend time with God” and start saying, “enjoy time with God.”

4.  A Shift Away from Seeing Sabbath as an Event

We have made Sabbath an event that takes place usually between ten and twelve on Sunday mornings. The unintended consequence of focusing on this one event is that when the event is done church-goers think their obligation to Sabbath is complete. That may be one of the reasons we see Christian people treating Sunday afternoon and evening like a free day; they think they can do anything they want. That may also be why so few Christians enjoy much time with God. We have unwittingly communicated to them that, by coming to the “main event,” they have fulfilled their obligation to connect with God and the rest of the week is theirs.

Sabbath is not an event! It is sacred time! It is a time set apart to connect with God and with family. It belongs to Him, not to us. It is not ours to do with as we wish.

5. A Shift from Ignoring Rest Because We Think it Is a Suggestion, to Obeying it as a Command

We are often told to practice the Sabbath because it is good for us. Indeed it is good for us, but couching it in that way makes it sound like a suggestion we can follow if we wish, or ignore if we wish. But it is not a suggestion, it is one of God’s commands. It is even included in the summary statement of God’s covenant with Israel (we call that summary statement the Ten Commandments).

However, “a commandment is often assumed merely to be a prohibition. Such thinking is idiocy. God’s commandments prevent us from sucking diesel fumes in order to orient us to delicious, fresh air. Sabbath is the healthiest air for us to breathe and it requires we obey God’s command and turn from anything less desirous. And here is the rub. Many who take the Sabbath seriously ruin it with legislation and worrisome fences that protect the Sabbath but destroy its delight.”

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God’s Desire Is Closeness

The biblical phrase “I will be your God and you will be my people” proves that it has always been about the relationship. Because of sin there are some things that must be taken care of in order for us to have an intimate communion with God, and there are other things that we must do on a regular basis to maintain that close connection. But God’s desire has always been intimate communion, and rest is one of the keys that makes such communion possible.

(The next section in this topical study is called Priorities Produce Simplicity. You can go to the first lesson of that section by clicking on this link: Put the Big Stuff In First.)


1: John 19:31

“For that Sabbath was a high day.”

2: Lev 25:4

“But in the seventh year there must be a Sabbath of solemn rest, a Sabbath to YHVH. You shall neither plant you field nor prune your vineyard.”


Tony Alamo has a website called


Dan Allender, Sabbath, pp. 7-8.