The Sabbath Not A Nap

Exodus 20:9 states that humanity should complete all of its labor in 6 days. “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.”

In The Sabbath, Jewish rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel asks is it possible to do all ones work in 6 days?

Heschel’s interpretation is that we should rest AS IF all of our work is done. He goes further to state that we should rest from even the thought of labor.

Continue reading “The Sabbath Not A Nap”

The Sabbath – Disengagement From the Present World

Sabbath : Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of RestThe Sabbath is a disengagement of the community from the present world. It is difficult to live ones life, feed ones family, and even work in a job, without
accommodating the structure. Our very participation in the present world promotes its continued existence which includes all of its attendent problems. Our working for the company that refuses to pay a livable wage to its poorest workers helps that company to survive. Such accommodation in a sense promotes the present evil world. We support the system as we live in the system. We cannot really live in this system and totally separate.

The Sabbath command makes provision for this by stating “six days you labor, but the Seventh-day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” If I may paraphrase, six days you go ahead and live in the system, but on the Seventh-day you radically break from it by not working (Exodus 20:10) and not buying and selling (Neh 13:14).

This constitutes an economic boycott that reminds the Sabbath keeper (and those who are in relationship with her) that the present world is not all there is. It reminds the Sabbath keeper
that the vision of the Sabbath with its basic idea that all are equal and all are to take part and be blessed by it will ultimately overcome the present world as the Kingdom of God is fully made evident. The Sabbath reminds us that while we are living in the system, this system is not God’s ideal or God’s will. The Sabbath reminds us that this present order is not what God intends. The Sabbath reminds us that the ultimately our responsibilities are to God and not to the system that oppresses us and others. that oppressive system that we have rightfully named Babylon.

The Sabbath pushes us to disengage from the world at least one day a week. The Sabbath-keeping church must show the weakness of the present order by disengaging from it. This will demonstrate to the world that this is not all there is. Our disengagement from the present order reminds us all that God’s kingdom will overtake and overcome eventually. This disengagement includes total separation from the present world on that one day as well as much separation as possible on other days.

This disengagement is not a passivity in the world. We would fight those things that are not in line with the vision of the Sabbath, but the disengagement helps us to find the vision and gain strength to fight anything that is not in line with the vision the Sabbath gives us.

The Sabbath – Celebration of Community

“The Sabbath is about individual rest, the church has turned it into a day of corporate worship.” So says many I have come in contact with. Such an individualistic understanding of the Sabbath divorces the Sabbath Keeper from one of the greatest blessings of the Sabbath which is a celebration of community. In fact Leviticus 23:3 reminds us that a holy convocation or meeting was required of the community in the Hebrew Bible. It was to have elements that would be kept in community. In addition, the Sabbath was not just to benefit the Sabbath-Keeper. Exodus 20:10 reminds us that all who are in contact with the Sabbath keeper would benefit from the rest of the Sabbath Keeper by not doing work that would Keeping the Sabbath Wholly: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feastingnormally be done for the Sabbath Keeper. Even the animals were to be blessed by the Sabbath. We are told in Exodus 23:9-10 that even the land was to keep a “Sabbath-year” this would expand the blessing of the Sabbath to include even the creation itself. Thus the Sabbath is communal and affects not just the Sabbath-keeper, but also all those who are involved with the Sabbath keeper. If the church will be a Sabbath-keeping church it must be a benefit to all who are in community with it.

A Sabbath-keeping church must see itself as one that makes sure that its Sabbath keeping is not an individual endeavor. It is one that must affect others. It is one that even those who are not Sabbath keepers must be blessed by. It is one that all those who are in relationship with us are affected by. The Sabbath-keeping church must throw away any totally individualistic gospel that ignores the communal aspects of that gospel because the very idea of Sabbath is communal.