Deuteronomy 5:12 Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 14 But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. 15 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.
In Deuteronomy chapter 5 Moses reminds Israel of the commandments which formed the foundation of their covenant with God. It’s essentially a repeat of what is written in the book of Exodus, but with some important additional language in v.15:
“15 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.”
The Sabbath wasn’t just about resting one day per week, though that was important. It was also a reminder to Israel of their new life as free people, no longer slaves. It wasn’t just a practice, but an element of their identity. They were God’s chosen people and they could trust God to provide for their needs. They would not suffer or miss out by taking Sabbath rest each week.
Today is my final day of Sabbatical, which has run from May 1st – August 1st. I cannot tell you how wonderful it has been to step away from my work to be renewed, refreshed, and to deepen my capacity to lead our congregation. I especially took time to focus on the topic of Sabbath rest, which seemed appropriate given I was away on Sabbatical. Over the weeks to come, beginning August 7th, I’ll be preaching a sermon series on the topic of Sabbath to share a bit of what I have learned.
But for today, I simply rest in gratitude. I’m grateful to my congregation, Rejoice Lutheran Church, for giving me the liberty of taking Sabbatical. I’m grateful for the wonderful staff and lay leaders of Rejoice who stepped up in my absence. I’m grateful for my pastor colleagues who joined me in studying the topic of Sabbath. I’m grateful to my wife Jana and our three children who shared Sabbatical with me. And most of all I’m grateful to God for establishing the Sabbath, which is such a tremendous gift to those of us living in an over-scheduled, over-worked world.
Thank you Lord. Thank you. Amen.