Summary: In the midst of the holiday season, we talk about peace and yet our lives are moving at incredible rates of speed. How do we slow down in our world and experience the peace God promises?
As I was thinking this past week about what to talk about, I decided to share with you a little about where I am in my spiritual journey and what God has been showing me recently. No matter how I live throughout the year, every year around the holidays I find myself tired. Have you ever thought to yourself, if only I had another hour in the day? Have you ever gotten to the end of your day and wondered where the time went? Wondered if you really accomplished anything? Wondered if you were more than a chauffer or a maid? Did you ever get home from a vacation and feel like you needed a vacation?
Why is that? Why do we seem to run through life at breakneck speed? Why don’t we stop? We have this feeling that if we stop, someone will pass us. So we press on. We continue in a rhythm that we can’t live with, a rhythm that is not sustainable. So we commit to another committee, we sign our kids up for another team, we join another group, take another assignment at work. All good things, but as a popular saying goes in the business world, good can be the enemy of great.
We read Psalm 46:10 where we are told to be still and know that God is God, and we think, that is nice, but not possible. So we press on.
Have you ever felt like God was far away? Have you ever wondered if anyone heard your prayers? Like when you prayed it just hit the ceiling and came back down? Why is it that everyone else seems to hear from God, but you can’t figure that one out? What about going through our day and not feeling fulfilled at the end?
I think one of the main reasons we feel like we do, is because we have gotten out of the rhythm that God designed us to have. Starting in the first chapter of Genesis, at the beginning of the Bible, we see this rhythm. God creates the world, each day has a different creation, but after 6 days he rests. Genesis 2:3 says God made the 7th day holy (which means set apart, different from every other day). He set it apart because he rested on it.
Fast forward to the book of Exodus. The nation of Israel has spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt. After coming out of Egypt God reminds them of the rhythm of life by giving them the 10 commandments. One of them is has to do with rest.
Exodus 20:8 says remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the 7th day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work. Then in verse 11 God reminds them of creation: For in 6 days God made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the 7th day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy, set apart.
What takes place after this is astounding. The religious leaders in the Jewish nation set up laws around the commandments that God gave them. God gave the nation of Israel 10 commandments, but to keep people from the breaking the commandments, the Priests set up 613 other laws so that you wouldn’t break the 10 commandments. So when God says don’t work on the Sabbath, they defined work. They defined how far you could walk, you couldn’t walk a mile. You couldn’t cook, you couldn’t, you couldn’t. So what God created to bring freedom the religious leaders made into a burden. It’s a good thing we aren’t like that.
So to help them get it, after allowing them to live with these laws God shows them a new one again in the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus 25 God gives them a new rhythm. It is called the Sabbath year and the year of jubilee. To go along with the Sabbath day, God tells them to work the land for 6 years, then the 7th year shall be a Sabbath year, where they rest and live on what God has given them. The year of Jubilee was to be every 50 years, so they would have 2 years of Sabbath years when the year of Jubilee rolled around. Imagine, here is God who brought them out of Egypt, took care of them for 40 years in the Wilderness on their way to the promised land. Do you know how long the journey Egypt to the promised land should have taken? 11 days. It took them 40 years because of how much they trusted God and how much they trusted in themselves. Do you know the sad thing about the year of Jubilee? They never experienced it.