Summary: The value of the seventh-day Sabbath as a day of rest.
A Priceless Gift
I recently celebrated a birthday that placed me into a special category - a category that allows me to order from the Seniors menu at a certain local restaurant; to park in the seniors' bay at the mall and to receive double points from a loyalty card at one of the local chemists. Oh yes, and if you live in certain cities, you can ride free on the busses and trains on a Tuesday!
With this special birthday came special surprises. My family arranged a party that caught me totally by surprise - something I said they would never be able to do: 60 family and friends for lunch at a golf estate near Stellenbosch.
In the words of the TV shopping channels - but that's not all! The family had clubbed together to contribute money towards a gift - an envelope stuffed with money! In two other envelopes were gift cards from some friends. The evening after the party I went through the different presents, enjoying the surprises; the cards; the kind words and delightful messages.
Now, suppose I had taken the envelope of money, or the gift vouchers, or the other presents and sent them back to those who had given them to me. Or maybe, tossed them into the trash can. Or perhaps put them in a draw and left it there until I had forgotten all about them.
Would those gifts have been of any value to me?
What would it have said about my appreciation to those who had given the gifts?
How would those who gave me the gifts have felt if they found out I had discarded the gifts?
I'm sure you will agree with me that the best way to show my appreciation and to honour the givers was to enjoy the gifts; to redeem the vouchers; to use what was given to me.
Today I want to share with you one such gift that has been given to all of us: A gift packaged in love; a gift intended to bring us joy; a gift planned for our delight.
And yet it is a gift that many of us have thrown into the trash can; many of us have put it into a forgotten draw; many of us have put it back into the envelope and returned it to the giver.
What is this gift? It is called The Sabbath.
As God came to the end of His great act of creation, He recognized that the crown of His creation - man and woman and the rest of the human race that was to follow - would need a day of rest; not only physically, but spiritually and emotionally.
The Bible records it in this way in Genesis 2:1-3:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 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."
This gift of the Sabbath - which followed an awesome week of creative activity by God; in which God had declared everything that He had made to be good - is made special because it is a gift from God. And a God of love - who clothes the lilies of the field; who sees when a sparrow falls to the ground; who, as a Father, knows how to give good gifts to His children - would only give us what is the best.