Scriptures and Reflections for the week of Sep 11 – Sep 16
Monday, September 11
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Do you suppose God rested because He was tired? What other reason could there be for resting? Do you think God takes time off now? If He does, does that mean that He is not available to hear your prayers? Is that why He seems absent sometimes? This passage says that God made the Sabbath day holy. What does that mean to you?
Tuesday September 12
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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. 11 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.
In the Book of Exodus, Moses delivers the Ten Commandments to the people of God. The fourth commandment is about the Sabbath. Not only does God command us to remember the Sabbath day, He wants us to keep it holy. The passage goes on to say that not only should you rest, but that you should allow everyone in your household to rest. You should also not ask any foreigner in your town to do work on that day. Why would God also ask that foreigners – people other than God’s own chosen people – be given the opportunity to rest?
Wednesday, September 13
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
The Book of Deuteronomy is written as a summary of all that the Lord God had told Moses. It is as if Moses is giving his final farewell speech to the Israelites just before his death and their entrance into the Promised Land. He is reminding them of all the important things they must remember, the ways in which the one, true God wants His people to live. Naturally, the Ten Commandments are re-emphasized here. Look at the difference in this verse and the preceding one from Exodus. What is different?
One difference is that there is more detail here. Plus, it gives a reason for the commandment: “so that your servants may rest, as well.” The servants may have been foreigners as well. The people of Israel – the ‘chosen ones’ – may have felt that God’s laws applied to them particularly and that others did not have to obey them. They may have been tempted to assign even more work to the servants on the Sabbath so that the householder’s family could rest. It is clear in this passage that God’s rest is for everyone! This passage is a reminder that the Israelites were once in bondage as servants and had no opportunity for rest. They know how that feels. It was God who led them out of captivity and gave them commandments that would help them live in community with one another. God created the Sabbath as an example for God’s people to have a balance between work and rest. God knows that people are creatures who cannot work endlessly without rest due to their very humanness. The work that people do on earth, however, may take their focus away from God and to put it instead on all the things for which they are responsible. Accepting God’s command to rest for one day a week allows people to re-focus on God and their relationship with the almighty God. It can remind them that all their hard work has a purpose under God, but that God is to remain the top priority.
Thursday, September 14
12 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
3 He answered, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’[you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
Several hundred years, wars, and exile to foreign lands happened in between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus. During that time, especially during exile, the priests and Pharisees continued to try and pin down exactly what God wanted of His people. They tried to keep the people of Israel as a people separate from the nations surrounding them. They took the Ten Commandments and added over 600 more ‘laws’ to these ten, trying to cover every possible situation that might arise. A large number of rules emerged as to the definition of “work.” Jesus and his disciples walked all over the countryside constantly teaching those who gathered to hear them. When they walked through some fields of grain, they picked some grain and ate it, because they were hungry. Why did the Pharisees condemn this action? Because picking grain was considered “work.” Food for the Sabbath was to have been prepared in advance. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that technically, the priests in the temple accepting the sacrifices of the people were doing work on the Sabbath, but somehow that was ignored. Jesus said that God desires mercy, not sacrifice. In other words, he felt it was important to feed the hungry men doing God’s work.
Friday, September 15
Matthew 12: 9-12
9 Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 11 He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
Jesus continually showed that doing acts of love and mercy – even on the Sabbath – were more important than following a specific set of rules that define “work” on men’s terms. The purpose of the Sabbath is to keep it holy, meaning to keep God in it. Selfish pursuits are not meant for the Sabbath.
Saturday, September 16
Mark 2: 27-28 and Mark 6:30-32
27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Look again at Genesis 2:3. “3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Did God need the rest? I don’t believe that was the case. After God created us, God knew that we would need rest, so He created two means for giving us rest: 1) an eternal rest when our days on earth are done, and 2) a weekly respite from our labors to give us a taste of our future, eternal rest in God’s presence. If we use Sabbath time to build up our relationship with God while we are still here on earth, we will look forward to that time even more. It will help us keep our lives in better balance and perspective. If we use our Sabbath time, whenever and wherever we choose to have it, to re-focus on our relationship with God, it will bring us much-needed refreshment for our thirst.
Jesus knew that his disciples needed sustenance in terms of food and rest, so he provided a quiet place for them. You need it, too. Find yourself a quiet place to rest, even if only for an hour or two. Turn off your phone and anything else with a screen. Talk to God. Listen for God speaking to you. Tell your loved ones you need this time. Encourage them to do the same. Use some time for Sabbath – it is a gift from God, for the people of God.