Saturday, December 17, 2005

Sabbath - What's The Fuss?

So as a Christian one of my favourite things is enjoying God communicating with me and confirming His Word through His Word and the word of another. What I mean by that is that I’ll sense God talking on an issue. Then in taking in His Word something – verse or chapter – will come to confirm the initial Word. To top things off I’ll either be having a conversation with someone, or reading something or watch something or hear something which will have no prior knowledge of my word and they will also confirm that word.

Anyhow, as I mentioned yesterday I was going to have a look at Sabbath. So today whilst enjoying it, I was considering how I would have a look at it and then the Word that came to confirm it was the command in the Word. You know the one,

"Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day--not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That's why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me. " (Exodus 20:9-11 CEV)

Yeah, that one. So I was on a roll and I approached me laptop to type up today’s submission. Now as ever, before almost anything else, I open the e-Sword and check the daily devotionals, and would you believe that the one written by F.B. Meyer called Our Daily Walk looked Quiet Resting Places and their closing prayer neatly fit into the whole talk about Sabbath. I’ll leave that for the end of today’s submission.

I’m not going to bother drawing out a long argument giving reasons for Sabbath-observance, I hope that the links at the end of this submission will be good for you to find out more information about it. If you asked me why I observed the Sabbath, not so long ago, I’d offer the same rationale as the author of the song Jesus Loves Me and that is for the bible tells me so. As I grow older, I realise that this can be somewhat off-putting. In fact in can come across rather robotic and – dare I say it – legalistic. It’s interesting I should mention that word, because in a very real way that’s how I’ve been brought up. I’m not blaming people, cos there’s no need for that. It’s a fact, however, that my approach to the Bible was more as a rulebook rather than a guide to how to relate with and understand the Creator.

When I finally began to develop my own relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ, He allowed my eyes to see His Word not as something to bind myself with, but something to liberate me. Something to allow me to fully cherish who God is and how he’s created me. Part of that was getting to grips with His commands. A lot of people would argue that the Law was done away with by the sacrifice of Christ. Those same people would put it to me that when Jesus said He’s come to fulfil the Law and Prophets that it suggests that it’s finished and done away with. They would also suggest that I live under grace and not the law. Where I’m coming from is that Jesus actually fulfilled the Law’s requirements – as in how to live the life pleasing to God. Now through Him I’m not subject to the oppressive nature of the law – which was never meant to give life. Now I’m subject to the grace of God that gives me power to live right. And one way to live right is to obey the commands of God, one of which is Sabbath observance.

It’s interesting that Christians will defend no killing, no idolatry, no stealing, no adultery, no dishonouring parents and virtually all the other of the commandments, but they’ll stutter, cough and brush over the fourth commandment. I’m not here to judge, just to share my insight. My insight as based on the Word is that God established this command to allow us to – as He did – rest after 6 days of creative work. As Jesus put it, the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man. Not as a shackle of oppression and a list of things you cannot do, but an insight into the real glory of God that surrounds us and a taste of the one that awaits us. The opportunity not to work and rather to celebrate and rest is easily misunderstood, but when appreciated truly from a heart of love it’s more than refreshing, as I now know from experience.

Growing up I used to look forward to the end of Sabbath, nowadays I look forward to the beginning of Sabbath and seek to share in the benefits that God set apart in the day that He literally set apart. As F.B. Meyer wrote in his devotional entry for today, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life – the demands of work and home. It’s easy to get swept up in the dog-eat-dog world pursuing material gain and forget about the need to stop and rest. It is easy to neglect the need for our whole bodies (emotional, physical, mental and spiritual) to receive nourishment and restoration through a shutdown in work and recuperation through the blessed presence of God. That’s why I’m grateful that the Creator established a sacred time for us to gain insight into a time He’s preparing for all those who will seek Him – that eternal rest.

Here then is that prayer from Meyer (I’m a poet don’t I know it). I hope you are blessed and challenged by it.

O God, may there be a pause in the busy rush of daily life, not only in outward seeming, but in our inward temper. May our anxieties and cares be borne by Thyself on whom we cast them, that there may be nothing to break the repose and serenity of our hearts. Ordain peace for us, because Thou hast also wrought all our works in us. AMEN.

One of the benefits of this bloggin business is the ability to link to resources and sites that can be useful for any issues that comes out of my entries. I’ve not thoroughly interrogated these sites, but an initial glance at these indicate that they should be good to get your teeth into the issue that I’ve looked at today, I hope that they’re useful for you too!

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