Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sabbath Rest

This past week has been extremely tiring for me. I needed a little rest from all my labors of the previous week.  There used to be something called the Sabbath rest principle. It came from the Old Testament.  The first mention of it is in the creation account in Genesis 2:2, 3. The verses read: And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.(NKJV)  

In Exodus 16, we see the people of Israel preparing for and taking a break from their travels and manna gathering.
22 And so it was, on the sixth day, that they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. And all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’” 24 So they laid it up till morning, as Moses commanded; and it did not stink, nor were there any worms in it. 25 Then Moses said, “Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”
27 Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? 29 See! For the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. (NKJV) 

In the midst of the Ten Commandments, the principle is reiterated with the command to keep the day holy.
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11, NKJV)

The Sabbath rest principle continues to be found throughout the book of Exodus and is found in many other Old Testament books and in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament. I especially like Exodus 31:17 which gives us the benefit of being refreshed by our rest. (It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.; NJKV)

Whatever happened to this principle? It seems that today, everyone is busy 24/7. We don't take time to "wind down." We end up so weary and tired. We are not taking time to renew ourselves. It makes us lose the energy we need to accomplish the tasks set before us on many other days.

Up until the last 50 years or so of America's history, "blue laws" were pretty commonplace. For those of you who are not familiar with that term, they were Sunday closing laws which prohibited certain types of businesses from operating on Sundays. No one is exactly sure why they were called "blue laws." Some claimed that these laws were printed on blue paper. However, many historians question this claim. Others believe the "blue" part comes from the "bluenose" connotation associated with their strict moral standards. This is the explanation commonly accepted today. Whatever the connotation, many of the blue laws are either no longer on the books or are not enforced. The exception, of course, is in regards to sales of alcoholic beverages in some locations.  Even these blue laws are falling in some places.

The Sabbath for Jewish persons typically falls from sundown Friday night until sundown on Saturday. Christians usually observe Sunday as their Sabbath. We all need a Sabbath of rest. My tiredness of this past week merely reinforced this principle for me. I had worked too many days in a row without a break. Yesterday, I took that break by taking a nice relaxing drive through the mountains and visiting some places I enjoy. I realize that this drive violated the distance one was allowed to travel in the Old Testament, and I realize that some of the commerce in which I engaged on my trip also violated it. However, I did get a rest. I was able to revel in some of God's creation. Today is Sunday. I've participated in worship services this morning at my home church. I will be working with our youth choir, participating in the evening worship, and participating in a rehearsal for our Living Christmas Tree this evening.  

Are you taking a rest so that you may be refreshed?

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