We saw yesterday how God rested, and set out a rhythm for work and rest. Here we see God giving some of the reasons why it’s important for us to rest, and how it’s still God’s gift for all creation even though many years have passed.
“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 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, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15 ESV)
He wants the Israelites to practice it, and to share it with those in their employ. Even their animals are included. But it’s more than that. It has to do with showing who their God is. God reminds them they were once slaves. The day of rest, the Sabbath, is a weekly emancipation from slavery.
They were being reminded by God, weekly, that they were created human beings, not pyramid building resources. Sabbath was part of their freedom – they belong to God, not pharaoh.
This is so important today. We can live in self-imposed slavery to career, money. Or fear. Or a form of slavery to work can be imposed by an exploitative company, a sex trafficker, a manipulative boss, etc.
Sabbath is a way for people who spend all week working to announce they are not just money making machines, they are God’s beloved children, and so they are free.
Yes, this is a limitation on work – it limits profits and production. And it wasn’t just weekly, the idea of Sabbath rest also applies to every seven years – when no fields could be worked. Imagine the statement of a nation that planned ahead like that, and took a year of rest to focus on other kinds of work. It would be very risky, but it was a way to show their trust in God, not themselves or their own risk management efforts. They may have been less productive, but they were free.
Question: How do you break free from the sense you are a slave to work? How can you show colleagues that there are more dimensions to your life than work?
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So far this week, we’ve looked at rhythms for rest, but what should one actually do with that time? One author, Tim Keller, has suggested two main categories of rest.
1) Doing nothing at all. Kick your feet up.
2) Do something different from your usual work.
If you work in a bank, volunteering to help launch our church is a form of rest. But if you work in a church, then it isn't rest...but doing the books for your favourite charity could be.
If you’re a fisherman, then fishing isn’t rest. But if you’re a videographer, it is.
If you’re a landscaper, then cutting the grass at home isn’t rest. But for many people, it’s therapeutic!
Not sure what that might look like?
It could be contemplative – spend some time praying, reading something spiritually focused, watching a sunrise.
It could be recreational - playing soccer, rock climbing, hitting the beach, learning a new skill, reading something just for fun.
It could be aesthetic - going to an art gallery, climbing the CN tower to look over the city, watching an outdoor movie like we're hosting this September.
Rest is going to vary depending on your work and your personality.
For me - rest is reading, or outdoors. Hiking, rock climbing, camping, all use muscles, parts of my brain and energies that writing these challenges and standing here in front of a camera talking to you does not!
Question: List your favourite way to find rest in each of these categories:
Then put down when you'll plan to do that next.
We meet for coffee this Wednesday night at Starbucks in the Chapters Store in Ajax, in Durham Region just East of Toronto. Maybe we'll see you there?
Just in time for summer's blend of work and rest, Redeem the Commute is starting a new series of daily challenges to help busy people restore life to the commuting lifestyle. This seven week series will look at the meaning and purpose of work, rest, and ancient practices that have helped followers of Jesus to keep the two in perspective and balance for centuries.