The Old Testament tells the story of a nation of slaves that God took and formed into the nation of Israel. As slaves, this people had no real concept of how to live as a society of their own. So we have the Old Testament law, over 600 commands given to help shape and guide this new nation. But of the 600 plus commands we’re all familiar with the top ten, the Ten Commandments.
Many of them we know by heart: Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not commit adultery. The one I want to focus on today is commandment four, the Sabbath. Here’s the entirety of the command:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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 male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 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 the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11Here’s what’s intriguing about this command to rest (the literal translation of “sabbath”): the entirety of the Ten Commandments is contained in 137 words in the original language. The one command to remember the Sabbath takes up a full third of those words. Remember, these ten commands were written by God on stone tablets. Space was limited. Every word counted. The ones we know today are short and to the point: Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery. And yet the command to remember the Sabbath goes on and on and on. Why? Why would God put so much emphasis on the Sabbath?
Is it because He created us and knows our selfish tendencies? Is it because he knows how quick we are to over-burden ourselves and get distracted from what’s most important? Is it because he designed our bodies to constantly need rest, to constantly pause and remind ourselves of what’s truly important, of where our value truly comes from?
For whatever reason, God went out of his way to make sure we understood just how important it is for us to periodically rest, reflect, and remember the source of all that is.
QUESTION: How often do you take a Sabbath?