The Sabbath in the Old Testament gave Israel a new culture; different from the other nations. But what does it mean for us today?
If you grew up around a Christian tradition with the word “Reformed” in its name, you might have a deeply ingrained sense of what not to do on Sunday. Likewise, you might have those same inescapable feelings if your upbringing included “Presbyterian,” or “Westminster.”
Pastor Ben’s message, “Kingdom People and Christian Character – A New Culture,” was from Luke 4:16-21. The Scripture passage contains what is easily my favorite Jesus moment, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. The sermon reminded me of a sign I used to see on a neighborhood baseball diamond, just up the street from a Reformed church. The sign gave a strict prohibition against playing ball on Sundays. That sign made my heart hurt every time I read it.
The field had a high backstop. A clear indent in the dirt next to home plate was like a foxhole from which battle would be waged. The smooth grassy infield, and a green outfield dared a dandelion to even think about growing there. The pitcher’s mound rose up to a well worn rubber rectangle. Each stop along the base path was marked by the leadoffs and slides, fraught with little league drama. And there was that sign: “No Ball Playing On Sunday.” Ouch.
The Sabbath Day
“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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 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.”
It’s one of the Ten Commandments – that Sabbath Day. It’s number four – one of the biggies. Pastor Ben also pointed out that every 7 years was a Sabbath Year. It enabled crop rotation. After 7 Sabbath Years, the 50th year was a Jubilee Year. In that year, all kinds of things were put back the way they were supposed to be. But, as Pastor Ben really revved up, the picture created by the Sabbath is not one of God “resting” and doing nothing.
The Sabbath is really more like God enjoying the creation that He made. It’s more like celebrating that God created a place to live with us, and then moved in. I want you to listen to Pastor Ben’s sermon to really grasp this.
A New Sabbath
There’s no question that the Sabbath is a day to spend worshiping God. But what if we looked at the day, not as an obligation, but as a celebration? What if we were able to enjoy worship, and our homes, our families, and our back yards, without feeling guilty that we might be “working” in some way, or having too much fun? What if we stretched our legs on some green grass and relished the feel of a baseball slapping into a leather mitt? This Sabbath, let’s take time to celebrate our God and the day He has made.