Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 5.15
15 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.
Reflection: Who is the Sabbath There For?
By John Tillman
A “preacher joke” many preachers have alluded to is that when there is a “therefore” in scripture, one must look back to previous verses to see what the “therefore” is there for. Therefore…why is it that God commands the Israelites to observe the Sabbath?
Because you were slaves. (v. 15)
Because your workers need rest. (v. 14)
Because work should have limits. (v. 13)
Because holiness is connected to rest. (v. 12)
Repeating the sabbath rules, Moses adds the remembrance of slavery. This emphasizes that not only must Israel not work, they must not compel others (even animals) to work for them. Moses seemed to realize that sabbath rules could be twisted to enable abuse.
British manors were often divided into areas for masters and servants. Pulling a cord in the “upstairs” rang a bell in the “downstairs” summoning a servant. Today, however, even low-wage workers carry a device in their pocket through which the “master” can “ring a bell” to summon them at any time.
In the late 90s, I remember an acquaintance having to bail on plans because she got paged to go to work. She wasn’t on call to perform life-saving surgery or another similarly urgent task. She was on call to stock sweaters and shirts on shelves and attend to customers in fitting rooms at a mall retailer. Being “on call” for a part-time job making near minimum wage seemed like an overbearing, outrageous expectation even then. Today, it seems like a quaint practice from a gentler time.
The invasion of work into private places and times is near complete. As much as smart phones have blessed our lives (such as enabling us to receive email devotionals) they have also allowed work to become, for many, a demanding and omnipresent god.
Let us center our weeks on the sabbath rather than on work, but without allowing sabbath to become a self-obsessed, self-care day which compels others to provide for our rest. Gods of modern economics demand we work harder in their presence, our God begs us to rest in his.
God’s model of the sabbath says, “I rest so that all can and will rest.” Jesus says the sabbath is for humans, not for God. Our rest, observed rightly, is an act of faith in God’s holiness and an act of kindness to all around us. May our rest bless others, not just ourselves.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms. — Psalm 95.1-2– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle
Read more about Keeping the Sabbath by Action
To Jesus, keeping the Sabbath holy meant staying in step with God’s Spirit and leaving nothing undone that the Spirit commanded.
Read more about Better Things to be Doing
“When will..the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” — Amos 8.5 There is nothing more profitable…than worshiping God.