Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Thoughts about "Sabbath"

This is something that has rolled in my head off and on over the years. Nothing specific in my mind, just that I keep coming back to Scriptures surrounding the whole Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy commandment. It is that, you know...a commandment, directly from God Himself.

But, too many folks don't hear lessons or teachings on that these days. Not in mainstream churches, anyway. I haven't been taught much about the sabbath, either. I've been told it was 'dismissed' essentially, with the coming of Christ and New Testament churches being based on keeping The Lord's Day and such.

But, I keep looking at the Old Testament and well, you just have to wonder why it's there...not just those commandments and the sabbath keeping mandate, but the Old Testament in general. If it's all a moot point for a New Testament believer, washed under the blood of Jesus Christ, living under grace and mercy...what's the purpose behind the teachings to be found in the old Testament then?

Maybe I'm not looking so much as 'keeping the sabbath' in the sense of the traditional outlook, but more from a plain old fashioned point of view.

It wasn't that many generations back that you held to a day of worship, Saturday or Sunday either one, and it was sacred. It wasn't just another day in the weekly roundup. It was special, it was set apart, it was held sacred from outside interruptions and distractions. You attended services if you were able and there was a church close enough, otherwise you kept to home and held your own Time with God. You didn't put it aside while you got other things done with your 'free day.' Meals were prepared and readied beforehand, you tidied up yourself, your household tasks were done. The day was ready for God. The children weren't running around all day, either. They were kept to quiet activities, such as book reading, maybe needlework or some other handwork, memorizing Bible verses, etc. There was nothing 'rowdy' or 'hurried' or even 'forced' about the day. God doesn't force our lives...he simply guides them.

OT families were about keeping away from alot of things...no cooking on the sabbath, no tending household duties, livestock duties, etc. It was all very sterile and white-washed. I suppose there was a point in time where it really needed to be.

But today? Folks run off to restaurants after church, they do shopping, etc. They not only don't view the day as set aside or special, but by doing certain things, they encourage others to put aside the sacredness of the day as well. And I'm not pointing fingers...I've done the same things myself. But somewhere in my heart, it just keeps coming back up front and center.

Last real time I tried bucking the system, and kept bucking, was with headcovering/headship veiling. I tried for a long time ignoring every prompting I was hearing, every Scripture that kept coming up over and over again. Finally I had to admit the fact that once God let's you in on His Plan, there's not much you can do to avoid it. He knows what He's doing and no amount of your head-strong attitude will change that!

The Simple Wife shares her journey toward the idea around Sabbaths. I really connected to what she shared below. That is what I'd like our sabbaths, our Lord's Day, to look like. Family time, together with God and His Word, quiet and unrushed, no sense of needing to be doing something, or needing to go somewhere. Some peace....heart, mind and body.

Sabbaths...excerpted from postings at The Simple Wife:
I've long felt that our Sundays need to be different than any other day of the week--that we need to honor the Sabbath and keep in holy (it's the fourth commandment, after all)--but I've just not been sure what that looks like.

I do know a couple of things:

It looks restful.
It looks relaxed and not rushed.
It looks like family.
It looks like service.
It looks quiet.
It looks peaceful.
It looks like the best day of the week.
It looks like freedom, rather than rules.
It looks deliberate.

That deliberate thing is the key. A day like that isn't just going to happen by chance. So we're putting some things into practice and asking God to continue leading--and here's the exciting part!--it's really coming together. And I'm so excited about it. Because I need a day like that more than "every once in a while when nothing else is on the calendar and somehow everything in my life lines up in perfect harmony."

The book she talks about, Sabbath Keeping by Lynne Baab sounds interesting to read through.
"While Sabbath-keeping is commanded in the Bible, God intends it as a reminder of freedom and abundant life. Baab suggests that Christians customize their Sabbath: All are called to cease from work, but one person's work could be another person's play. (Baab also says the Sabbath may involve freedom from multitasking, technology, media, shopping, competition, talking and anxiety.) Also, she says, the day for the observance does not matter, as long as it is consistent. Baab covers the scriptural reasons for Sabbath observance, but the best sections of this work deal with the personal and the practical.

Some more of her thoughts on Sabbath Keeping:

“Why did God need to rest?” a friend asked. “Does God get tired?”

God was able to rest on the seventh day because the creation is so abundant, so full of life, and so perfectly ordered. We are invited to rest on the sabbath as a sign that God rules the universe so well. God tells us not to work on the sabbath so that we “may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12 NIV). One scholar translates those words as “catch our breath.”

Because Jesus conflicted with the religious leaders of his day six times about the sabbath, some Christians believe we are no longer commanded to keep the sabbath. Jesus himself kept the sabbath (Luke 4:16), and his conflicts with the religious leaders centered around appropriate behavior on the sabbath. Jesus performed healings on the sabbath, because part of the purpose of the sabbath is for us to experience the joy of creation abundance. In the first version of the ten commandments, the reason given for sabbath observance is that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh (Ex. 20:8-11). Jesus restored sick people to the life they were created for.

Another idea central to the sabbath is release from slavery, and on the sabbath day Jesus freed some of God’s sons and daughters from the slavery of illness. Jesus has freed us all from slavery to sin, and the sabbath invites us to rejoice in that freedom. In the second version of the ten commandments, the people of Israel are encouraged to “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” (Deut. 5:15, NIV). Whenever we step into sabbath time and leave behind our work responsibilities, we are opening ourselves up the possibility of experiencing joy in the freedom Christ gives us.

The sabbath invites us to rest in God’s abundance and rejoice in our freedom from slavery, and in our time this invitation is just what the doctor ordered. Many people are discovering that the sabbath enables them to “catch their breath” each week and experience good gifts from God.

There are just so many things yet to work out in my mind. But, The Lord is working on that. I am a work-in-progress, afterall.


mrshester said...

Another wonderful post, and one that hits home for me as well. I haven't always considered this an issue for me...the eating out and running from one place to another until quite recently. I'm starting to wonder if God hasn't led me to your blog for a reason?

I am guessing by this post that you wear a head covering? Do you have any posts that address this? This has been on my mind for some time now as well.

Thank you again.

Frogdancer said...

A woman I work with is Jewish, and she and her family keep the sabbath. Saturday in their case.
She told me that she began it about 20 years ago, when life was really hectic and she and her husband were racing around everywhere building their careers and raising 3 kids. She says that keeping the sabbath is awesome... it makes you slow down, de-stress and really focus on God and family.
I've got to say that she made it all sound really appealing. I think that if more people took the sabbath, the world would be a better place.

Valley Visions said...

Not long ago, I read a book by J.I. Packer about the Puritans. He stated in his book that the Puritans would spend Saturday preparing for worship on Sunday. This included the children learning scripture verses and catechism quesions with the local pastor. This got me to thinking about how I should prepare for worship on Sunday. A friend of mine has the order of worship sent to her via email so she and her family can go over the hymns and songs for Sunday and read over the scripture text for the sermon.

When our children were younger, they were not permitted to participate in sports on Sunday(they have since thanked us for holding to this in the face of much opposition from coaches, etc.).

While I, too, am a work in progress, I would really like to do a better job at preparing. When I even take the time to be quiet and read and pray on Saturday evening, I am more in tune with what in going on in the service. I would be interested in hearing about what others do to prepare and/or how they keep the Sabbath.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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