Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.
Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Sabbath – a day of rest as commanded by God in the Ten Commandments. So important is the concept of rest and renewal, that is was in the top five of all the laws given to the Jews by God.
As a child I remember how everything, except for a few restaurants, shut down on Sunday. It was one day during the week you knew everything was closed and if you were a working man it was the one day you were sure to have off.
There was no house cleaning or wash done that day. The yard work had to wait. Neighbors would get upset if they saw you hang your wash to dry. It never happened with our family because, “What would the neighbors say.”
Way back in Biblical times there were pretty sever punishments for violating the Sabbath. It almost became a burden, a day to be on pins and needles to make sure you didn’t violate the laws and end up getting stoned to death.
As a child I always thought it meant get up and go to church, no matter how boring it might be or how beautiful of day it was. As I got older and became more disenfranchised with the state of large organized, corporate religions, I also carried some guilt about not going to church every Sunday. I had the perception that going to church every Sunday was synonymous with observing the Sabbath.
But as I grew older and began studying the Bible I came across this verse:
One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath isn’t a set of rules and rituals and punishments for breaking those rules.
It’s God’s gift to us. It’s God saying you must take time to stop and reflect. You must take time to establish and strengthen yourself and your relationship with God.
At the end of Exodus 23:12 God says: “…may be refreshed”.
God wasn’t looking for us to trade in the mundane assembly line from the other six days for the assembly line of the corporate church.
In Dueteronomy 5:15 God warns us about not taking this time to renew and refresh.
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
God isn’t commanding us to keep the Sabbath because God has some need for us to grovel. God is saying I brought you out of slavery, so take the time to rest, relax, refresh and renew your spiritual mind and your body lest you fall back into the slavery of worldly desires.
God is commanding us to take care of ourselves and the gift that God has given us. God is commanding us to make the most of ourselves, to not become slaves to possessions, or institutions, or the opinions of others.
This is what Christ meant by, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.