For those who missed CCR last Sunday or wish CCR had a functional web site and pod cast let me give you a quick overview. This Sunday our Sabbath discussion took us to the crux of the matter. We could summarize the issue in ONE COMMAND – HUSBAND; GET ME ANOTHER CUP OF TEA!!!
You see the text clearly states, “On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. (Exodus 20:10, NIV). Every living being in a society must respect this old Jewish way of doing business except one person – the spouse.
Just follow the text closely. There is a “You” meaning “Me.” Since, wives generally read their
bible more than husbands they apply it to themselves. Husbands are excluded. Then sons and daughters, household staff, animals, and even foreign guests (whether refugees or V.I.P.’s) are mentioned. They are all commanded to practice Sabbath. It would be impossible for a family to function if everyone took a day off. Therefore someone must work 24/7.
CCR’s best theological mind (my wife, Jana) concluded the 24/7 person is the husband. Therefore, she commands, “HUSBAND; GET ME ANOTHER CUP OF TEA!” Her interpretation is rock solid.
Seriously, we human beings have been screwing up God’s gift of Sabbath for thousands of years. This week our Sabbath discussion took us to the Sabbath principle of Equity.
We’ve spent several weeks journeying with an old story of God transforming a dysfunctional extended family into a nation. In order to do this they must develop a Code of Conduct and System of Law. They spend over 400 years living as exiles in Egypt. Then when their cousins; the Hyksos make war on Egypt they are first enslaved, and later suffer genocide. However, God is not finished with Israel. He sees their situation, remembers His covenant with their fathers, and calls Moses. When Moses is ready to listen he has been a herder of livestock for 40 years after a disappointing attempt at being a leader. Calls are tough. Moses resists, but then relents. He returns to Egypt and miracles happen. Egypt releases Israel from slavery. Then they gather to worship and listen at a mountain in the desert.
Yahweh introduces himself as a King. He speaks and intends to be heard. He describes himself as “I AM” – The One who has always existed and defines all of life throughout eternity. While Israel has heard stories of “the god of our fathers,” Yahweh becomes personal. He states, “I AM, your God.” History is no longer irrelevant. In fact, Yahweh reminds Israel of their experience. They have been called, “out of Egypt and out of a life of slavery. (Exodus 20:1, 2)”
For those of us reading the story 3,500 years later it should remind us that God still speaks to us today in seasons of turmoil. If we grew up with godly parents or grandparents listening to stories of faith that seemed irrelevant to our Post-Modern thinking, God will speak anew. He does not want us to define our relationship with Him simply as “my heritage.” He wants us. When our life becomes one of slavery whether the form is religious rule keeping or cycles of addiction; His intent is our freedom.
It is no wonder than that as He gives us our freedom in wilderness lands He becomes a jealous lover who will tolerate no rival (Exodus 20:5-7). Deep down we all want a relationship with one person and one God that is full of jealousy. We want to be possessed in such a way that there is one who no matter what will always treasure us, and run to rescue and sustain us. Thus Yahweh commands as a means of blessing.
He states, “Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. 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 20:8-11. Contemporary English Version.)”
God’s nature is reflected in pace and rhythm. Good dancing music has a moment of quiet rest. Have you ever been at a David Crowder concert and he waits 34 painful seconds until he starts playing? As we rest God prepares our spirits to celebrate and participate in God’s creative enterprises.
There are ancient documents similar to the 10 Commandments, but this command to rest is only Yahweh’s. He knew we needed this stillness. It requires trust that God will provide. It also requires humility to acknowledge that it does not all depend upon us.
We religious people turn the beauty of this sacred rest into a rule sometimes. In the process we miss the whole point of Sabbath. Sabbath living liberates us from man’s control. Some of us who claim to follow Jesus also miss the beauty of this Jewish tradition. Somehow, we think grace frees us from Sabbath. Instead, grace frees us from the ridiculous nature of rule keeping. Sabbath is for our good. Thus we should feel free to heal, rescue, and live with joy on our Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-13; Luke 13:10-17).
In our previous week, Meg Guillebaud spoke to us about Sabbath keeping as a command to care for the environment (Exodus 23:10-11. Leviticus 25:1-7.)
Last Sunday, we applied the Sabbath in equity. Our nature tends to extremes. One may play all the time. Another may labor all the time. God commands all to both labor and rest for His glory. In the process we learn to steward the environment, forgive in community, worship, and create a new. While there is equity in application there are different functions and sanctified common sense.
Sabbath teaches us Gender Equity as there are no differences in application of work standards. It teaches Economic Equity as there is no difference between employee and employer (Galatians 3:28). Sabbath shocks us with its view of Creation. Even livestock is to rest.
Then whether one is a VIP or refugee we hear the Sabbath standard. We practice Sabbath so “the foreigner living among you may be refreshed (Exodus 23:12, NIV).” To empathize with the foreigner we are told, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:15, NIV).”
So for the real point of this past Sunday’s sermon – Everyone take time to rest in community. Enjoy your coffee and tea.