The Sabbath

What if I told you that you personally could gain another 7 years of life and all you had to do was… nothing, nothing what so ever, zip, nada, big fat zero. What would you do? Would you do it? What is today? Sunday, right… what is Sunday? It’s the Sabbath. I mean what does today mean to you? I ask this question because I want to get a better understanding of what we consider the Sabbath to be. Truly in Jesus time the Sabbath was from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday. This is the origin of the Millerites movement who are more commonly known as the seventh day Adventists who were established in the 1860’s. They believe very strongly about the Sabbath and keeping it Holy and they are not the only ones, just the most well know or ridiculed, I guess. Now, I’m not picking on them, because this is something that I struggled with myself. We as a church, and I don’t mean just Methodist’s, we have become 9 commandment people. By that I mean that we keep only 9 of the 10 commandments faithfully. Now this is going to make a lot of people angry. The truth usually does. However, you would never condone murder, or adultery on occasion, would you? You would never say well I was tired today and, in a hurry, I didn’t want to miss my favorite TV show and this guy was driving too slowly so I ran them off the road and killed them. No, or at least I hope not. I do sympathize with you though when we have the Gila bike run, I’ve felt like running them over, but still we would never break one of the other Big 10. So why do we not keep the Sabbath, why do we find it OK to sweep this one commandment under the rug, to ignore it. Most importantly as it’s one of the ones that even God felt the need to partake of.

The Sabbath is not an imposition as so many people think it is these days. The Sabbath is a gift from God. It’s something that God made for us.

Listen… [Mark 2:23-28] 23 One sabbath he was going through the grainfields; and as they made their way his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need of food? 26 He entered the house of God, when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and he gave some to his companions.” 27 Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath; 28 so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath.” The Sabbath was made for us. We need the Sabbath. Did you know that depending on which study you choose, the average life expectancy is increased by 7 to 10 years for those who practice the Sabbath? That’s an extra decade, if you throw in the vegetarian diet. Which I’m not recommending, as I have tried it and found it tasteless, although that could just be because I’m a terrible cook. Regardless, an extra 7 years is nothing to sneeze at. Yet we constantly find an excuse not to decompress, not to relax, not to be in relationship with God. This is not much of a problem in most other countries and not at all in most agrarian cultures.  Most other countries truly find our preoccupation with time, our rush, rush, rush, culture mildly offensive. As an American and someone who has lived and breathed corporate America for almost 30 years, I find it offensive that others find my productivity offensive. Who are you to tell me what to do with my time. And that’s because of the culture that we are raised in today. This culture frowns on taking personal time. It’s not forbidden, it’s just looked down on. If you take a day and you do nothing, then you’re not being productive, you’re wasting time. Mustn’t do that. Many a Sabbath I’ve worked and thought nothing of it. No longer is Sunday a sacred day. As a child of God though, I ask myself, why? Why do we as a culture find the idea of a day of rest, offensive.

We avoid it like the plague either we spend our time in escapism scenarios, like Netflix binges, video games, and movies, or we go on pointless vacations that leave us more tired and stressed than when we left. The Sabbath is God’s gift to us, no other creation started out with a day of rest. Listen… [Genesis 1:26-31] 26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 27So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. And the very next day, after he created humanity He gifted us with a day of rest. [Genesis 2:2-3] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Of all creation we started out with a day of rest, God didn’t say to us on the  first day, get to work, no, He told us to relax, take a break, He took a break, we are supposed to be in relationship with God on that day, we are not made to work on the Sabbath, rather we are made to give thanks for our creation, to honor God’s labor in our creation and the trust that He has placed in us as stewards of that creation and all that it contains. So, on this day remember the Sabbath.

[Exodus 20:8-11] Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. He is so serious about it that, stranger’s, people from other cultures are extended the same gift. That’s how important it is to God. That all his creation is given the opportunity to rest, those that praise Him and those that do not. So, even if you don’t want to do it for yourself, at least do it for your family, I am sure that they would like to have you around for another 7 years and I am sure that you would like to be around for those extra years. More importantly though God commands us to rest and that should be more than sufficient reason to obey. [Leviticus 23:3] Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation; you shall do no work: it is a sabbath to the Lord throughout your settlements.

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