The Lords Day: Stop and Rest.

July 4th, 2009

Exodus 20:8-11

20:8. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
20:9. Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
20:10. but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.
20:11. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

This is a very straightforward command that we are to follow. One that can be a real inconvenience in our busy society. The words in verse 8 says it all. Concerning the Sabbath, we are to do two things. Remember the day itself, and keep it holy, or honor it.

As humans we need plenty of rest. Each day is typically spent with a third of it sleeping. We are asked to give up ond, or one seventh of our week to rest.

Commandments are laws, and for every law there are those who look for loopholes. Look at the actions we are to do for the Sabbath. Remember, that is fairly easy. It's a passive thing to do, just think about the day and remember to mark it as different on the calendar. Holy. To be holy is to be set apart or different, so you might think that simply remembering the day as different is enough right? But unless the day is treated as holy, or different it really doesn't get any different treatment. God spends the next three verses telling us specific things we are to do to mark it as different.

Do all your work during six days. First lets look at what this work is. There are two words used, labor and work. Labor is any kind of energy that is spent for any reason. So for a six day span we are free to be workaholics and labor over every little thing that we want to labor over. The word "all" is used along with the word "work" wich has a slightly different meaning.

In reality, our human bodies are always at some kind of work. We actually do burn off a certain amount of calories by just sitting still and breathing. We are allowed to eat on the Sabbath, but laws in other places state that we should prepare food the day before. In the desert, the Israelites gathered two days worth of mannah the day before the sabbath.

The word "work" actually defines exactly how much, or what kind of work should be done, or is limited. Work refers to your normal employment, The normal vocation that you do to earn your living. A store keeper should stop store keeping on the Sabbath. A Teacher, or a doctor, or a mechanic, or whatever should stop doing that vocation for that day. What about someone like a farmer? The sheep still need to eat, the cows still need to be milked. The work that is talked about still allows for servile work to be done. In other words work done in service to others. In the time of Jesus his disciples got into trouble for breaking one of the man made taboos about the Sabbath. The Pharisees came to complain to Jesus and his response was that if one of them had lost a sheep, wouldn't they go to hunt for it? The unspoken answer is, of course, yes.

The definition continues. Not only is each individual to rest, you can't send your child out to mind the store while you kick back into your easy chair. You can't put the duties on any slaves, which would equate to your employees for modern times. If animals are used to perform your line of work, you can't use them either. A modern equivalent to the beasts of burden in today's times might include any machinery that you use. Cars, trucks, tractors etc. But think about it, those items require a person to work to operate them, similar to requiring a person to get the animal to work.

The Sabbath should be a total get away from your normal work. Now here's a tough spot. It is said that a woman's work is never done. There are always meals to cook, dishes to wash, floors to sweep, bathrooms to clean, laundry to do, beds to make, the list goes on. Families should make the attempt and give mom her day off as well. I know it may be hard to do, but give it a try. I know that servile work is allowed, but strive to honor God and give the mom of your house a break, even in homes where maybe dad is doing the mom work, or in single parent homes. If the daily house hold chore that might be done on the Sabbath can be put off, let it ride.

Why all this crazy lack of work? God did it that way. For six days God worked. He was employed by creating. Everyday he created. Finally, his job was done and he stepped back, rested, and took time to enjoy the fruits of his labor. God was still there, he is still here today. If there was any emergencies or service work that needed tended to on the Sabbath, the Bible doesn't mention it, but he was there to handle it if there was. God still takes a hands off approach for us today. He's still there for us, and still works when we need him.

This command to rest is for our benefit. We humans do work hard and accomplish a lot during the week. Taking the time to remember and honor the Sabbath and enjoy the things you have worked so hard for.

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