Summary: We live in a hurried, frustrating world. What can bring peace in such an environment? Answer: Sabbath
February 16, 2003
In those days saw I in Judah [some] treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified [against them] in the day wherein they sold victuals. (16) There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. (17) Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing [is] this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? (18) Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.
(19) And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the Sabbath: and [some] of my servants set I at the gates, [that] there should no burden be brought in on the Sabbath day. (20) So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
(21) Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do [so] again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no [more] on the Sabbath. (22) And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and [that] they should come [and] keep the gates, to sanctify the Sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, [concerning] this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy. Nehemiah 13:15-22 KJVA
We live in a world in which the pressures can sometimes be crushing. There was a man who ran up to an airline ticket agent and said, "Give me a ticket." The agent said, "Where to?" He replied, "Anywhere; ANYWHERE, I’ve got business EVERYWHERE!"(1)
We live in a very tense, uptight, and fast-paced world filled with hurry. A Tahoma, Washington newspaper carried the story of Tattoo the basset hound. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive – with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice.
A motorcycle officer noticed the poor basset hound was, “picking them up and putting them down as fast as he could.” He chased the car to a stop, and Tattoo was rescued (and survived), but not before the dog had reached a top speed of 25 miles per hour, falling down and rolling over several times.
Too many of us are living our lives like Tattoo, picking them up and putting them down as fast as we can – rolling around & feeling dragged through life.(2)
Today in Jerusalem when the Friday afternoon sun hits the horizon, you had better make sure you’ve gotten everything you need from the locals. When the Sabbath begins (at dark) the restaurants will be closed, elevators and buses won’t run, and you can carry your own bags up to your room. They take the Sabbath seriously. When it comes to obeying the 5th Commandment to Remember the Sabbath, our Jewish friends have it all over the Christian community!
The whole question about this topic of Sabbath is the center of this message. And the answer is for today’s hurried, dragged-out, “pick-‘em-up and put-‘em-down”, over-worked, stressed-out believer.
I. Understanding the Sabbath
What, exactly, is the Sabbath? The word literally means “to rest” or cease from working. The Sabbath was given to us by God’s example:
8“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11 (NASB)
The Sabbath is also given by command:
15‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. Deuteronomy 5:15 (NASB)
Usually God’s commandments and His wonderful example are insufficient for today’s humans, so it requires explanation more so than “God said so”; we also understand that the Sabbath is good for us.