Saturday, February 9, 2013

Shabbat Shalom

Today, according to some, is the Sabbath.
Tomorrow, according to some, is the Sabbath.
Every day, according to some, is the Sabbath.
No day, according to some, is the Sabbath.

So who is right, and does it matter?

That's opening a huge can of worms, I freely admit it. A friend of mine decided to survey those professing a belief in God, asking them what "keeping the Sabbath" means to them. The results aren't in yet, but one thing I can predict with surety: she is going to receive a LOT of different answers.

I just want to throw one thought into the discussion. If (as some maintain) every day is the Sabbath for Christians and so it is no longer necessary to set apart one day in seven as more special than any other day (using as a Biblical justification, perhaps, Romans 14:5 or Colossians 2:16-17) . . . if this is true, then what does it mean to keep every day as the Sabbath?

The purpose of the Sabbath, which God instituted in practice long before he wrote down the Law for Moses, is twofold. First, the Sabbath is to be "holy," which means it is to stand apart from the rest of the week. It is to be devoted to God.
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)
I agree that, for those who are following Christ, every day should be dedicated to God. Every day should be holy. As Paul wrote, we should remember that we are serving the Lord in everything we do, not just in church services but in the trenches of day-to-day life (Romans 12:1, Colossians 3:23-24).

 Second, the Sabbath is to be a day of rest, not only for those who believe in God, but for everyone.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore theLord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:9-11)

This, sadly, is where the "every day is the Sabbath" theory falls apart if put into practice. Notice, first of all, that this is not simply a matter of "Jewish Law" . . . the principle for Sabbath-keeping goes back to creation. We are supposed to take a day off from work. Every week. And we are supposed to let everyone else have a day off, too. Everyone.  So, if every day is the Sabbath, then we should never work . . .

I submit that we should work six days a week, but that we should remember that we're working for Jesus. Every day should be holy in that respect. But one day a week needs to be Holy. Separate. Different. 

Isaiah summed it up nicely.
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.
The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13-14)
Or, as Jesus reminds us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27). It is God's gift to us. Let's not insult him by throwing it in his face and telling him we don't need it.

Shabbat Shalom!