Book cover: The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan

The Rest of God

Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

Mark Buchanan

I have been keeping Sabbath (seventh day) since my teens. I have had different experiences with Sabbath keeping at different times in my life. I have gone the rule-keeping route. I have gone the idle, but not rested route. I have gone the busy and enervating, but occasionally worthwhile route. I eventually stumbled (or was led) into seeing the Sabbath for the gift from God he intended it to be. Most of that trial by error could have been avoided if I had had a teacher who had emphasized the attitudes that prepare one to truly rest in God.

Mark Buchanan, either by stumbling into it or by being led into it, has written a book, The Rest of God, that does just that--emphasize the attitudes. He found those attitudes in the Bible and applied them specifically to keeping Sabbath. Anyone could have done that; but this is the only book of its kind that I’ve run across. His perspective is that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath and that any convenient day can serve as a Sabbath rest. He doesn’t argue his viewpoint; he focuses on the importance of a day dedicated to rest.

Besides a preface, an introduction and an epilogue, the book has fourteen chapters on facets of resting in God with each one followed by a short suggestion on how to incorporate the concepts he proposes into Sabbath keeping. He also cautions against using them as rules that end up burdening a day meant to be restful.

I found most interesting his observation that there are fewer rules and regulations about Sabbath keeping in the Old Testament than there are about other facets of God’s law:

“Elsewhere, in Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, God prescribes explicit and detailed instruction regarding sexual conduct, priestly garments, dietary concerns, the removal of mildew, the kinds of polyester forbidden. But on Sabbath, almost nothing, only the repetition of general guidelines: rest, cease from work, celebrate, remember, observe, deny yourself, delight yourself. I think God must be protecting us here from our temptation to clutter simple things.”

Another chapter exhorts the reader on Paying Attention: “It is the simplest thing, to pay attention. But it is easily neglected.”

He also exhorts us to find joy, not in our “druthers” but in what is best from God’s perspective.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you by doing a book report rather than a book review. I don’t believe this book is a comprehensive instruction on obedience to the Fourth Commandment; but it does show a better way than just being idle. Ceasing from our day to day work is a command, but like all the rest of the commandments, there is a positive, active, life-enhancing observance beyond the letter.

Book Review
By Scarlett Stough
Title: The Rest of God, Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath
Author: Mark Buchanan, copyright 2006
Publisher: W Publishing Group, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN: 0-8499-1848-0