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July 9 | Exodus 20:8-11


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION

 

He Rested on the Seventh Day

by Dan Kidd


Christians throughout the centuries and across the world have found and experienced the wisdom of the Ten Commandments, given from atop Sinai, as the Lord first established his people, having just rescued them from the oppressive clutches of Pharaoh. When Martin Luther was determining the essentials of the faith that we might teach our families as they are trained as disciples of Jesus (that is, the Small Catechism), he included the Ten Commandments. And while some of these commandments we will decidedly find more difficult to keep than others, the general consensus, at least on the part of Christians, is that we ought to take these directives seriously because they lead us into life. But, as Pastor Steve Turnbull observed, "Of all the Ten Commandments, this [Sabbath keeping] may be the one we are proudest to break."


But why is that? Why have we who are Christians become so prone to wear busyness like a badge of honor; such that we cannot allow ourselves to cease from productivity or to empty a day in our calendars of all obligations? How is it that we've become some tempted to withhold from the Lord what is meant to be set aside for him to do with it what he intends to do for us? In the same way the world of those stingy with money grows ever smaller, so too does the world of those who hoard for themselves the time that ought to be devoted to the rest of the Lord.


One reason we might allow ourselves to break the Sabbath commandment is that, unlike sleep, Sabbath won't necessarily force itself on us. Mark Buchanan, in his wonderful book The Rest of God writes,

Sleep eventually waylays all fugitives. It catches you and has its way with you.

Sabbath won't do that. Resisted, it backs off, spurned, it flees. It's easy to skirt or defy Sabbath, to manufacture cheap substitutes in its place--and to do all that, initially, without noticeable damage, and sometimes, briefly, with admirable results.


We can survive, or at least appear to, for a quite a while on cheap substitutes for Sabbath; with enough escapism, or pain endurance, or neglecting things we shouldn't. But neglecting Sabbath does cost us. And of this we can be certain: The Lord wants, and commands, more from us (and for us) than that.


God didn't need to rest on the seventh day. He wasn't exhausted from his troubles of creation. He simply spoke the world into existence. The Lord ceased (another translation of the word shabbat) in order to enjoy his creation for himself. And God ceased so that we would imitate God and rest ourselves--allowing God to have time to bless us. Allowing us time to participate in the joy-full activities that renew, restore, reconcile, and re-create us. And the Lord directed that this was to be a community activity. Everyone--servants, animals, and foreigners--were all to be given rest--unified in and by their ceasing for the glory and worship of God.


This, friends, is what we are commanded. What we are gifted. That we can stop with our toiling, trusting in the goodness and provision of God, and we can allow the Lord to do for us what we so desperately need--taking time to do those things that the Lord uses to re-create us again.



PRAYER

Lord, let it be for us that you are our good shepherd. Allow us to be fed and to be led to green pastures and still waters. We confess now that you are the one who refreshes our souls, and that our souls need refreshing. In the bustle of our busyness, in the shadows and storms, train us to seek you in stillness and to receive peace that surpasses what we could hope to understand. Rest us, o Lord, beneath your wing, with your air in our lungs, and give us the grace to stop and be still because we have put our hope and our entire trust in you. Amen



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robin.lorms
09 ก.ค.

Good morning, Dan. I loved your closing prayer. It summarizes what God intends for our rest in Him. I can imagine laying down under a shade tree by a running stream filled with rainbow trout-LOL) being cooled by a soft, fresh breeze talking to Jesua reminding myself He is my Shepherd and loves me unconditonally. We all can find momentary Sabbaths during the week as we set aside a few minutes to bask in His Presence while telling Him how much we love Him.


Robin Lorms

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msaz6
09 ก.ค.

Dan, thank you for this rich and thought-provoking reminder that we have a tendency to hoard for ourselves the time that is intended to be devoted to the Lord. If only our eyes would be open to all that he has in store for us if we would but rest in him.

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