Scripture: 2 Chronicles 9:13 The weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred sixty-six talents of gold… 15 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of beaten gold; six hundred shekels of beaten gold went into each large shield. 16 He made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three hundred shekels of gold went into each shield…17 The king also made a great ivory throne, and overlaid it with pure gold… The like of it was never made in any kingdom… 22 Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. (After Solomon’s death) 10: 1 Rehoboam (Solomon’s son) went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 They sent and called him; and Jeroboam and all Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.”
Observation: The final verse in our passage says “4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke that he placed on us, and we will serve you.” One of the main things God’s people were freed from when they fled Egypt was what Dr. Walter Bruggemann calls the “tyranny of production”. Whatever the Hebrew people produced in Egypt was never enough. Pharaoh always wanted more, so he was continually increasing production quotas and allowed no days for rest. When God liberated the Hebrews one of the commandments he gave was to “honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy”. They would no longer work 7 days a week, as under Pharaoh, but would take one day a week for rest. Apparently, Solomon had reverted to the practices of Pharaoh – denying his people adequate rest and imposing impossible quotas of production.
Application: The demands of “more” were strongly present in ancient times and are certainly with us today. The interesting thing to me is that the tyranny of production you and I experience tends to be self-imposed. We work 7 days a week because we choose to do so, not because someone is cracking a whip over our heads. In a consumer culture like ours, material wealth is viewed as a measure of our worth. The more stuff we own, the more accomplished we are. We work more, to earn more, to buy more, to feel validated.
I’m reading a book by Dr. Bruggemann called “Sabbath as Resistance”. I’ll likely preach a sermon series based on this book during the season of Lent. Anyway, the book argues that taking Sabbath rest in a consumer culture is a means of pushing back (resistance) against a culture of relentless production and consumption. Sabbath rest also requires us to trust that our heavenly Father knows our needs and will provide for those needs in six days a week, not seven.
My struggle with production has less to do with a sense of scarcity of resources, but a feeling that I’ve somehow not done enough. That I’m letting people down – at home, at church, wherever. I tend to think “it’s up to me” so I load myself up with burdens that are impossible to carry. I live as if things depend on me, not on God. It’s not a conscious thing, but it is pernicious and destructive. This is not how God intends me, or you, to live.
Whatever your motivations for over-work, if you’re feeling worn out from lack of rest, receive the following from the Lord:
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Prayer: Gracious Lord, give us grace to be freed from the tyranny of production and, instead, to rest in you. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.