Monday, May 13, 2013

Sabbatical - Part 1

Exodus 16:26 (KJV)  Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.

Exodus 20:8 (KJV)  Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The Bible is pretty clear about the importance of a period of rest.  And those of you who are used to our usual 3-4 posts a week have probably already noticed that this hasn't been happening for about a month.  That will get back to normal, but maybe not immediately.  Here's why.

Maybe I'm stretching the interpretation of the two starting verses.  And maybe not.  But follow my thinking and see if you agree.  Because there's a progression in what I believe is the correct interpretation.

To repeat a point from other posts, I believe that everything God wants us to do is out of love for His creation and is for our benefit.  We may not always recognize that, but we're not omniscient.  So, anything I say on this subject uses that premise as its foundation.

We've already acknowledged God's omniscience.  Which means that He knew, before He created us, that we'd stray in the wrong direction.  That had two consequences:
  1. The resulting sin corrupted our physical being, requiring regular rest periods.  
  2. That same sin also destroyed our relationship with God. 
Those are pretty clear.  What may not be so clear is the correlation between those two points.

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they needed to live, their only "work" was to stroll through the garden with God, being taught more and more about Him.  When they were thrown out of the garden because of disobedience, Adam and his descendants had to toil to get the basic necessities.  And there are enough references in the Word that God's thoughts on work equated to "no work, no necessities".  But that work takes its toll on us.  So, we need to "recharge".  And that's where our verses come into play.

Exodus 16:26 occurs as the Israelites are in the desert, travelling from their deliverance from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Other than the actual travel, their only work was to gather the manna that God provided for them for food.  And it had to be gathered daily or it would spoil.  But they had to rest on the seventh day, the sabbath.  Which meant that they had to gather enough manna, on the day before, to supply food for the sabbath.  The other verse, Exodus 20:8, is a reminder to keep the sabbath holy -- sanctified, sacred, unto God.

I'll bet most of you already see where I'm going with this.  Manna, a food that spoiled if it was kept for 24 hours, stayed fresh for the sabbath -- God became the preservative.  And the day of rest is supposed to be kept for God -- because He's our preservative, too!  The account of creation says it took God six days, whatever time frame those days represented, and He rested on the seventh day.  Do any of us believe that an all powerful God who could create a universe really needed to take a nap or go for a beer?  Of course not!  But take a look at my train of thought on this.

Jesus' worst day and worst moments were on the Cross, when He took on our sin.  And it was the worst time because He was separated from the rest of the Trinity.  During the creation, at least part of God's focus was on something other than the Trinity.  So, that seventh day -- the day of rest devoted to God, brings in even greater unity with Himself.  So, that seventh day rest after creating the universe may have been a moment of extra pleasure in unity, but it appears to be mostly for our example.

Much of our existence is mired in uncertainty.  There's little rest or peace in the unknown.  Because God is unchanging, the one point of stability in an otherwise tenuous existence, He becomes the ultimate source of rest.  When we fully realize that, we have another one of those "Wow!" moments.  Study the Bible a little and  we can't miss that God is concerned with our eternal relationship with Him.  But here's a very real example of why that relationship is important in the here and now.  Yes, it's another of those "which came first" situations.  Our relationship with God prepares us to meet our daily needs and brings in the needed rest from our work.  That rest gives us the wherewithal to focus on having the proper relationship with God.  In turn, the relationship brings in the proper rest, which gives us the clarity to improve our relationship with Him....  We get the picture, don't we?

There's more that I want to say about what's happening here.  And there's more on the sabbath, sabbaticals, and rest.  That's all related.  But I think there's enough to think about, this time, with what's already been shared.  So, how are we growing in our relationship with God so we can gain that real rest?  And how are we resting in Him so that our relationship grows?

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