It was strongly enforced on the Israelites, who were still getting over their slave mentality and needed a firm moral compass, learning the Fear of the Lord as well. Nearly all of us know it as part of the Ten Commandments.
We read how the Pharisees in Jesus day made the people so paranoid about working on the Sabbath (See Luke 13:14) it became ridiculous, and Jesus rebuked them for it.
For most of us in our culture, it’s a non-issue.
We don’t seem to have a problem with “having our days off” and the good ol’ weekend where we (most of us) can put our feet up and watch the footy. We need the rest. It’s our duty to do that before God, right?
Right! Obvious health benefits of course.
Jesus made the point that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (See Mark 2:23-27.) God, as a good Father put that in place for our own good.
Surely we all know that. So what’s the point I’m making?
I’m not even going to get into a theological debate about what day we go to church, apart from pointing out what Paul said about honouring one day over another. (See also Colossians 2:16)
The point we are often missing is what's called the "Sabbath Principle".
I don’t believe that God collapsed in exhaustion on the 7th day after creating everything. His power is unbounded. He sat back and enjoyed His handiwork. He took delight in what He made.
Some of us, especially the Alpha male or choleric personality types, the driven workaholics, are the ones that need that balance I think. We hear good advice about “stopping to smell the roses.”
Even in agriculture and many other industries, we see this principle come into play.
Ever heard of the “Law of Diminishing returns”? Unless we let the earth rest occasionally, it soon stops yielding. The Hebrews had to learn that lesson. (See Leviticus 26:33-35)
But even more than that, let’s all stop and appreciate what God has done for us -- on a regular basis.
Let’s enjoy His handiwork with Him, the way He did on that first Sabbath day.
Admittedly, creation’s not the same as it was then when He “saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). That’s because man chose to do his own thing and took nature with him in his fall. But part of that fall is our habit of grumbling and complaining that things aren't going our way.
We put our heads down and slave away (sometimes 24/7!) for material things that we aren't satisfied with anyway.
To me, that’s a kind of Sabbath-breaking. We wonder why we can’t enjoy our lives. God takes delight in us as His kids. Why don’t we stop and take delight in Him and His awesome creation, His redemptive work?
I like that FaceBook post that said: “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”
Every command that God makes always boils down to His desire to do us good and have relationship with Him -- including keeping the Sabbath (in the sense that He intended.)
As I’ve said before, it’s a journey.
Yes it’s a hard road at times.
Yes there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.
But let’s put some time aside to enjoy the journey.
We may be pilgrims passing through this world, but we don’t need to be grim pills!