Scripture: Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9 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. 12 Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 You shall not murder. 14 You shall not commit adultery. 15 You shall not steal. 16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Observation: This passage includes some, but not all, of the commandments. Generally speaking, when something is explained at length in the bible, it’s intended for emphasis. Note how the commandment concerning the Sabbath is explained in much greater detail than the others. This is not an accident. But why? Here’s my theory:
As slaves in Egypt, there was no such thing as a day off. Their function was to work, and work they did. Every day. They had no choice. However, once God’s people were set free, they got a day of rest. Keeping the Sabbath was a key dimension of their new identity as free people and as God’s people. It was intended as a blessing to the people.
Application: Sabbath rest is a gift from God and a key element of our identity as children of God. Yet, truth is, many of us CHOOSE to live as slaves – working every day of the week. That’s nuts when you think about it, but it’s true. I’m including myself in this. What’s up with that?
I believe a big part of the problem is cultural. At least in the US, Sundays are no longer protected from work or leisure activities, so keeping the Sabbath requires swimming against the current of culture. That’s really hard to do. Yet the call to keep the Sabbath remains. It’s not a “recommendation” or a “suggestion”, but a “commandment”. God help us.
Prayer: Lord, none of us would argue the value of keeping the Sabbath, but the practice of it eludes many of us. Teach us your ways, O God, and give us grace to withstand the pressures of a non-believing world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.