Summer and the Sabbath, or year round Sabbath

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Back on June 2, I read with interest about the Sabbath in my favorite newspaper! But I realized after finishing the pastor’s letter that some uninformed readers may assume the Sabbath to be merely a day of the week solely set aside so that we could kick back, relax and do nothing. Such a wonderfully important issue truly deserves more clarity, but sometimes confusion comes because we rarely quote the entire verse!

Far from being simply a tradition, the seventh day of the week is a specifically designed command from our Creator with a life changing purpose. Among God’s unchanging laws, the fourth commandment was written in stone by God’s own finger! Translated from Hebrew into English it reads as follows:

“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the seas and all that in them is and rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus chapter 20)

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Among some interesting points to consider, the Sabbath pattern is not simply Jewish tradition, because it was set in place during creation week about 2,000 years before Abraham was even born! According to the Bible, this one particular day was designed to commemorate a single fact, which is that God created this earth in six days.

Then, our Creator ceased from His labor on the seventh day and hallowed it. “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary?” (Isa. 40:28)

Instead of a day where God sat down exhausted to catch his breath, the seventh day of our week is a temple made of time. Sabbath is a weekly memorial day provided so anyone may pause at the end of our week in humble acknowledgement, love and appreciation for His great gift of Creation.

In seamless transition from the Old Testament to the New, we can read how Jesus himself also diligently observed the Sabbath, even to the day of His death. Yet He observed it without the rigid mindless traditions of self-serving leaders that had accumulated over the years. As one example, it caused no small stir when Jesus stopped in the temple to heal the crippled hand of a man on the Sabbath day. Defying their priestly outrage, Jesus humbly explained that it was “lawful to do good on the Sabbath day.” (Matthew 12:12)

Our modern fast paced world is hectic enough to drive anyone crazy! What a relief that our own Creator commanded us to stop laboring for a full day at the end of every week! But in resting, we are also commanded to remember!

We are commanded to remember that God created this world! During our day of rest while obeying this law, we can also recall that Jesus explained how all the law and all the prophets actually hinge on two great laws, which He described as follows:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind and your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:36, Luke 10:27 and Mark 12:30)

If you work hard and crave a simple day of rest, then leave the guilt behind you and take a good solid nap! God approves! But if we must be active on that day, we could also remember how the Sabbath was never meant to be a day of sloth and self-absorption. Many in our community need help!

We have sick and elderly neighbors who need a visit! Do you know a disabled person who might need help getting to the grocery store? Our local nursing homes are filled with those who would cherish a kindly visit, even from a stranger. Sing a gospel song with them! Laugh and love and be human with them! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

Call that person you’ve been meaning to call this coming Sabbath day! Beets are coming in this time of year. Take them a sack of beet greens and a copy of the Tryon Daily Bulletin! Perhaps we could pull our kids away from the TV and lead the family for a robust walk outdoors and show the children God’s creation first hand. Enjoy a chance to breathe in the goodness of Pearson’s Falls or listen to the song of Green River and be thankful! Offer to babysit for that stressed out young mother you know, so she too can catch a long missed Sabbath afternoon nap. Take those kids to enjoy lightning bugs by the river at Harmon Field or set off on a bicycle ride through Big Level and soak in God’s creation all around us! The possibilities for helping others are endless!

It might sound irrelevant in our oh-so-enlightened age, but could we simply take a moment to read our Bibles and pray with someone who needs our company and a good hug?

Far from being a day of burden, let the Sabbath be a day of joy and gladness! Most Christians know that according to the Bible, it’s impossible to work your way to heaven. Only Jesus could purchase that costly ticket for you! But in gratitude for all He has done, in gratitude for His creation of this earth and in gratitude for the gift of life He has given us, could we take a day of separation to remember? Could we pull away from our busy lives and take time to be a blessing to those around us?

God said it this way through his prophet Isaiah: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 58: 13, 14)

Our Creator’s day of rest is waiting for you. The seventh day was made for us all!

Enjoy it… and remember!