Sunday, April 25, 2004

Observing the Sabbath
I'm old enough to have experienced the days of the Blue Laws and I've attended church all my life. But, I've never really been taught much about observing the Sabbath until this week. I once had a Jewish boss who observed Sabbath every week and I know she had to prepare in advance for Saturday. They used no electricity on the Sabbath so they had to cook ahead, and I'm sure they had to have other things on hand since they would not be shopping. I also have Christian friends who eat at home every Sunday, but I don't know if its Sabbath observance or just tradition. In sum, I just don't know much about it. But last week's study of Nehemiah has made me question my own Sunday "routine" and wonder if I should do more to observe the Sabbath.

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 2:2

"Then the Lord said to Moses, '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. Observe the Sabbath because it is holy to you." Exodus 31:12-14a (The passage goes on to say that anyone who desecrates it must be put to death).

After Nehemiah accomplished the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, he went home. When he returned years later, he found the people were not observing the Sabbath. He rebuked them, "What is this wicked thing you are doing - desecrating the Sabbath day?"

Hebrews 4 discusses the Sabbath in a whole new way. It speaks of "rest" as though the "rest" is our salvation. We can stop working and rest in Him. So, does this excuse us from observing the Sabbath? Jesus warned us not to observe the law so tightly that we refuse to help others. He healed people on the Sabbath. But, he never said the holy day was to be no more.

My teacher said that since the dawn of time, God has set aside a day of rest and called it holy. She thinks we should not be legalistic, but that we should make the day a day of rest and not spend it playing catch-up. So, I've put a lot of thought into it, and this week I decided to make this day a Sabbath day. No eating out, no shopping. Just worship, Bible study and relaxation. Family and God time. It took planning, which was the suprise bonus. Throughout the week I was thinking of things I should do to prepare for God's day, which kept me focused on God. Its like when you have a party or a date, and you spend the week planning and preparing. The anticipation is part of the experience. And, so it was this week.

I still don't know the "rules" of the Sabbath, and I would love to discuss it with somebody. (Please). But, I can tell you this week felt right, and I'm glad I've done it.


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