The gift of the forgotten commandment

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In Sunday School I learned the 10 commandments, but really there were only 9.

Honor God, yes. No idols. No cussin’, lying’, murderin’, adultery, disobeyin’ or wanting-what-she’s-got. But that one about the Sabbath? Skip that. We aren’t legalistic about Sundays.

The Sabbath got thrown in the same basket as prohibitions against shellfish, bacon and mixed cloth: Jewish artefacts left at the cross; and there it remained for the first two decades of my walk with God.

Then someone began talking about the radical idea that God had given the commandments to teach Israel a path of life and blessing. Instead of the me-focused social order of human rights, God gave an others-focused social order of human responsibility. The loving obligation to refrain from stealing did the same job as protecting the right to property, except it was better.

Laws for blessing, not burden.

Honor your Mother and Father that it may go well with you

And so, too, my view on the Sabbath has changed. I now understand that Sabbath does not mean Sunday, or even the more authentic Saturday. It means a designated time to rest, and God’s injunction that we should rest is meant to bless us, not burden us.

We are not ruled by the Sabbath, we are graced by it.

We do not belong to the Sabbath, it belongs to us.

And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. – Mark 2:27.

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. – Hebrews 4:9

I wish you the gift of God’s rest today. May you slow down enough to let Him fill your cup and lead you beside a stream of quiet water.

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.

Wendell Berry (1934-)

20131019-202949.jpgThis post is day 20 of 31 Days of Belonging. For a full list of posts, click here.

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7 thoughts on “The gift of the forgotten commandment”

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about sabbath, and what it looks like to take a sabbath with young children. In college it felt impossible to take Sundays for rest because I was neurotic and thought I needed to be studying. But by my senior year I figured out ways to take a sabbath and we carried this discipline into young married life. Oh, how I loved my Sundays! But now it feels impossible again to rest on Sundays. I’ve contemplated starting a freezer meal line-up so that I don’t have to cook and then maybe just changing my expectations (?) but I’m wondering if you have any wisdom or insight on how to make Sunday a Sabbath day while still changing diapers, chasing kids, etc. Give me your wisdom, friend!

  2. P.S. Just saw your tweet back to me. Thank you! And please don’t feel the need to respond to this at all, but certainly not today. It’s Sunday, after all! 🙂

  3. A couple of comments, if I may, actually three. First, I think it confuses the issue to call Sunday, the Sabbath. The OT clearly teaches that the Sabbath was given to Israel, Exodus 31:17, as a memorial of their redemption from Egyptian slavery, Deuteronomy 12:15. Sunday is a memorial of the resurrection of our Lord, something Israel knew nothing about, although prophets much later than Moses predicted it. Second, If you’re going to keep the OT Sabbath, then you have to keep everything in the Law, even the “shellfish, bacon and mixed cloth,” Deuteronomy 4:2, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take anything from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” No more cheeseburgers, because you can’t mix meat and milk. Third, and finally, nine of the ten commandments are repeated in the NT. The only one omitted? The fourth, about the Sabbath. Christians live under the New Testament, not the Old, though there is much there for our instruction, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Clarence. I’m sorry if my post was confusing: I don’t think Sunday and the sabbath are the same, but in my Sunday school upbringing they were often equated. It was only when I began to realize that the sabbath day of the week was a representation or Gods bigger ideal of a sabbath REST, where the emphasis is on REST not the day, that things began to make more sense to me.

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