Friday, June 8, 2012
Honouring the Sabbath
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Today we continue our series on the Ten Commandments and we look at honouring the Sabbath.
In Exodus 20 (where the Ten Commandments are recorded for us… but you find them in Deuteronomy 5 as well) God gives more words, more explanation, to this commandment than He does to any other commandment. In my translation 90 out of 256 words are spent on this command. That is 35%!
More than 1/3 of God's time is taken up by one of the Ten Commandments. That makes this commandment significant, and yet, I would suggest that it is probably the least understood and the least kept of all the commandments.
When asked what the fourth commandment is, many would probably say something along the lines of: ‘Don’t work on the Sabbath’… ‘Rest on the Sabbath’
But the command is: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
That hopefully begs the question: What must we remember?
Well first of all, let there be a day of the week, the 7th day, when you actually make a conscious effort to remember throughout the day that… Today is the Sabbath. Kind of like when we have a birthday… that whole day we keep it in our minds… today is my birthday. Let’s have a day a week where throughout the day, we remember, we remind ourselves, today is Sabbath.
There’s a bit more we can remember though. Did you notice that God remembers something… He says: ‘In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas and everything in them, but on the 7th day I rested.’
That’s what God remembers as He gives us this command… I created the whole universe in 6 days and then I rested from my creative work. So… God remembers and celebrates creation in this command. One of the ways we can remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy is by remembering our God as Creator and we can do this by just looking out and even finding ways to enjoy and celebrate creation. There are many ways to do this:
Some folk make an effort on the Sabbath to make time to just look at the stars; others may go to the zoo; perhaps drive in the country;
a walk through a park etc, etc, etc.
All the time remembering: ‘Today is the day that God, Creator God, rested from making all this.’ Can you see how this can bring obedience to this commandment to life in you?
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy… to keep holy (you might remember a few weeks back) means to set apart for God. Something or someone is holy if it is separated or set apart from other things for God.
When the 10 Commandments are recorded in Deuteronomy God says this: ‘Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to remember the Sabbath.’
So here is another way to remember the Sabbath: Remember that once you were slaves, but now you are free. I don’t think we as Christians remind ourselves enough that the truth is: WE ARE FREE…. FREE from bondage to sin, even while we still struggle against it and with it… don’t let Satan say to you: ‘You’re mine, look at your behavior, you’re as bad as you ever were… you’re mine’
No!!!!! In Christ, I am free, my freedom has been won… I am no longer your captive, even though it might look like I am, I’m not! In Christ, I am free!!
And if one day a week we would set time apart to remember this TRUTH, we would live out that freedom more successfully than we currently do.
The Sabbath is another one of God’s means of grace for us. Just as He blesses us through the other means of grace, like prayer, Scripture reading, the Sacrament, fellowship and fasting...... so too He conveys grace and blessing to us when we remember the Sabbath and set it apart for Him, especially in the 2 ways we've mentioned: remember and celebrate creation,
remember and celebrate your freedom in Christ.
Now, for another way..... REST. Our reading from Hebrews reminds us that God's desire for us is… REST. I don’t have to ask how many people here are TIRED. One of the freedoms that Christ has won for us is… REST.
Come to me, all you who are tired and I will give you… REST.
Rest is incredibly important to God. He wants us to rest. He COMMANDS us to… rest.
When we remember creation we remember that:
God created… on day one.
God created… on day two.
God created… on day three.
God created… on day four.
God created… on day five.
God created… on day six. On day six He made all animals – must have taken up most of the day. At the end, last of all, He creates humans. What’s the first thing these humans do… well..... it’s the end of the day, so they probably… go to sleep, they rest!
Then they wake up to their first full day in this creation, day seven, and God says to them… REST… it’s Sabbath. So what did they do, well, they no doubt found ways to enjoy the creation and each other… WOW – look what God has made.
Rest is so important in God’s plan for us, that it is the first thing that He gives His created beings to do.
So here is another way to ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy’ – don’t do the things on this day that keep you busy the other six days of the week. Set this day apart as special… as different… as holy to the Lord.
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Here is a final way to do this, and it comes from our reading from Mark’s gospel. Jesus reminds us, so we ought to remember, that the Sabbath is made for us, we were not made for the Sabbath.
Sabbath fits into you, it is made for you.
You and I don’t fit into Sabbath.
Can you see how Sabbath thus sets free, it doesn’t confine. [I explained this in my introduction to this series – laws set us free, they don’t confine us. Before we are born again we hate laws and rebel against them, but when we are born again – laws set us free. You and I are not confined by the law that says ‘drive on the left side of the road…’ we are set free by that law!]
We don’t fit into the Sabbath, Sabbath fits into us and sets us free to celebrate creation, to remember our freedom, and to rest.
Therefore: Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
Honouring the Sabbath
And Jesus concluded, "The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
Exo 20:8-11 "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work---neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the LORD, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the LORD, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
Deu 5:12-15 " 'Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, as I, the LORD your God, have commanded you. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work---neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. Your slaves must rest just as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the LORD your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to remember the Sabbath.
Heb 4:1-11 Now, God has offered us the promise that we may receive that rest he spoke about. Let us take care, then, that none of you will be found to have failed to receive that promised rest. For we have heard the Good News, just as they did. They heard the message, but it did them no good, because when they heard it, they did not accept it with faith. We who believe, then, do receive that rest which God promised. It is just as he said, "I was angry and made a solemn promise: 'They will never enter the land where I would have given them rest!' " He said this even though his work had been finished from the time he created the world. For somewhere in the Scriptures this is said about the seventh day: "God rested on the seventh day from all his work." This same matter is spoken of again: "They will never enter that land where I would have given them rest." Those who first heard the Good News did not receive that rest, because they did not believe. There are, then, others who are allowed to receive it. This is shown by the fact that God sets another day, which is called "Today." Many years later he spoke of it through David in the scripture already quoted: "If you hear God's voice today, do not be stubborn."
If Joshua had given the people the rest that God had promised, God would not have spoken later about another day. As it is, however, there still remains for God's people a rest like God's resting on the seventh day. For those who receive that rest which God promised will rest from their own work, just as God rested from his. Let us, then, do our best to receive that rest, so that no one of us will fail as they did because of their lack of faith.
Good News Bible Translation
Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath
Lord of Creation, create in us a new rhythm of life
composed of hours that sustain, rather than stress,
of days that deliver rather than destroy, of time that tickles rather than tackles.
Lord of liberation, by the rhythm of Your truth, set us free
from the bondage and baggage that breaks us,
from the Pharaohs and fellows who break fail us,
from the plans and pursuits that prey upon us.
Lord of Resurrection, may we be raised into the rhythm of Your new life,
dead to deceitful calendars, dead to fleeting friend requests,
dead to the empty peace of our accomplishments.
To our packed-full planners, we bid, “Peace!”
To our over-caffeinated consciences, we say, “Cease!”
To our suffocating selves, Lord, grant release.
Drowning in a sea of deadlines and death chimes, we rest in You, our lifeline.
By Your ever-restful grace, allow us to enter Your Sabbath rest
as Your Sabbath rest enters into us.
In the name of our Creator, our Liberator, our Resurrection and Life, we pray.
From “Common Prayer” by Shane Claiborne, et al.
Why do you think God spends more time on this command than any other?
What are some of the ways (5) we can “Remember the Sabbath”?
What does it mean to “keep it holy”?
How is the Sabbath a means of grace?