Summary: Sabbath affects personal and global econimics
Sabbath Economics March 25, 2007
We have been looking at the 4th commandment over the past few weeks: “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
Sabbath Declares God’s Provision
There are two things that happen in the beginning when God provides manna. Some people worry that there will not any manna provided tomorrow, so they hoard it so they can be sure to have some; other people don’t believe God’s command that they should collect double on Friday so that they can keep the Sabbath. Both are out of luck – the hoard goes rotten over night, and the people who do not collect enough for the Sabbath have to go hungry for that day.
When we keep the Sabbath by not working, we are saying that we believe that God is the one who provides our daily bread. Although we may receive a check from our employer, or the government, in the end, it is God who provides for our needs. We can trust him that if we take the day off, as he asks, there will still be food on the table. If our work is unpaid, we can trust that all of the things that we need to accomplish will not go away, that God will provide the time for us, and the resources to accomplish all that is important to him.
In this way, Sabbath keeping is an issue of trust; “do we trust God that there will be manna on the ground tomorrow?” Do we trust him that the manna will not go bad on the eve of our Sabbath? Do we really trust him that he is our provider, or do we need to control the situation to be sure that there is enough?
Some of the Israelites tried to control the situation and it made sure that there was not enough.
Sabbath Declares God’s Abundance
I’ve said before that a friend of mine read a book on personal economics, and one of the principles of the book was, “Live like you have enough.” The writer said that to show yourself that you really have enough, and you don’t need the “more, more, more” that the advertisers say we need, is to give 10% of your income to charity. Sound familiar? God says that we should give 10% of our income to him as well.
Sabbath is much like tithing in this way. It says “I don’t need to keep grasping for more, God has given me enough.
Retailers that didn’t want to open on Sundays a few years ago finally decided that they had to, or else they would lose “market share” to their competitors. There seems to be this theory that there is not enough to go around, so I must work harder to make sure that someone else does not get my share. God’s economics is difference – his economics is not one of “not enough;” It is an economics of abundance where five loaves and two fish are enough to feed 5,000 with 12 baskets left over! His economics are where there is enough food to feed everyone in the world if we just shared it equitably. His economics say that you will be blessed if you trust in him and obey him, not if you work every waking moment, and then some, to get ahead.
Sabbath says to stop grasping for more, and enjoy the abundance that God has given us.
Cheryl Bradbee writes in her Lenten devotional guide: “Sabbath economics are based on God’s promise of abundance for all creation – an abundance that does not require constant gathering. Sabbath-living requires that people put their faith in God, becoming “rich toward God” rather than rich in material treasures.”
Sabbath is a gift for your employees
If we go back to the Ten Commandments, where keeping the Sabbath is number 4, it says, "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
The Sabbath is not just for us, it is for the people that we hold sway over as well, not as a burden to place on them, but as a gift for them.
In Isaiah 58, God is responding to the people who had declared a fast inorder to get relief from God. But their fast is a sham, he says to them: