Dan Allender’s enthusiasm for the Sabbath is contagious. You can’t help but read this book and find a new appreciation for the fourth commandment and the gift that it is from God to his people. Allender emphasizes the delight of the Sabbath and spends much of the book describing what a day of delight in God should be built around.
Allender sees several “pillars” to Sabbath observance: recognizing the Sabbath as a day set apart, an “entrance into another eon not possible in any other way”; recognizing that Sabbath will mean we look at time from a whole new perspective; understanding that Sabbath involves community, feasting, and joyous delight; and Sabbath is a day for delightful play.
Allender really harps on this idea of “play” on the Sabbath, so much so that he spends a further three chapters describing what he means. In the first part of this section Allender asks how can we “play” on the Sabbath when we are encumbered with broken relationships and hardships. He views the Sabbath as a day to stop and look at one another from the vantage point of eternity and to live this day as if we were with them in eternity. Next Allender talks about Sabbath as a day of abundance, realized in the gratitude that we show to God and others. Finally, Allender urges us “to pretend, to play as if the new heavens and earth have dawned.” This day is to be one of hope, joy, and the release of worry. “Sabbath is the promise that death doesn’t win.”
The end of the book contains ideas to consider and think about: how can you practically celebrate the Sabbath in your life? How can you set aside your worries and troubles for the joy of the Sabbath? What are some practices you could work to include in your Sabbath (meditation, prayer, praise)
At the end of the book Allender reiterates: the Sabbath is not just a day off, not just a day to relax and have a break from the week. The Sabbath is a taste of Heaven with specific purposes. It is a day to enjoy grace, to renounce injustice, to reconcile, to celebrate. It is a day to focus our hearts and lives on what is ahead: eternal life with Christ and all the joy and gladness that will mean.
There are a few points at which I question Allender's interpretation of what it means to "play" on the Sabbath, but all in all I found this a very rewarding and encouraging book and one that I will continue to reference in years to come.
Please note: I have been given a copy of this book by the publisher for the purpose of review.