Sabbath Rest

November 17, 2021

Exodus 31.12-18

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

14 “‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’”

18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Quite the strong statement about the Sabbath.  The Lord wants to be sure that the people take the day of Sabbath rest as he offers it to them.  Yet we will find that by the time of Jesus, and for quite some time before that, the ideal set forth at the beginning becomes a form of legalism that makes work of keeping the Sabbath rest.  Rules about the number of steps one could take, yet ways to set a new beginning to that limit by resting in a particular way.  Exemptions for taking care of the animals one owns, but not for the neighbours around them.

When we see Jesus and the Sabbath, we see that he spends time in synagogues teaching, but also time with others healing, with the disciples picking grain, casting out demons.  And we hear him say something that sounds new, but is what is intended.  The Sabbath was given to people for them, not to control them.  Sabbath is for people, not people for keeping Sabbath.

The important question we need to look at is not how we keep away from all unnecessary work on Sundays (although there is no time when we declared the Sabbath to be moved from Saturday to Sunday).  The question is how we honour the gift of God to us of having a day to rest from our work and to be renewed.  God wants us to have life, and he wants us to live it well, to enjoy what we are given, to have time to reflect on his goodness.  Rest is also a gift of God.

Take time to evaluate our taking time to rest.  Look at how we take time to listen to God and offer prayers and praise.  Giving God more than just a day, giving God the first part of life, and giving all of ourselves to him in all we are.

SongLord Most High


O gracious and holy God, give us diligence to seek you, wisdom to perceive you, and patience to wait for you.  Grant us, O God, a mind to meditate on you, eyes to behold you, ears to listen for your Word, a heart to love you, and a life to proclaim you, through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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