And the LORD said to Moses,  “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.  You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (Exodus 31:12-14 ESV)
Think about the stunningly strong language of this text is. The Lord says that that above all the other laws the people should keep the Sabbaths. Everyone who doesn’t should be put to death. If you work on the Sabbath, you will be cut off from the community. Ouch!
What is almost as shocking is how much Christians today do not care at all about Sabbath. How many of us never rest? We don’t even rest on our days off. Instead, we work harder on our days off to get done what we could not get done while we were at work. When we are too busy to go to worship then we just don’t go.
Here is the question of this blog series: what is Sabbath so important to God? When we understand why it is important then we can begin to paint a picture of what a good Sabbath would look like in today’s society.
To understand the importance of Sabbath, you have to understand the context into which God gave the people a Sabbath. The people had spent 200 years in slavery. They had heard stories of how they were God’s chosen people, but how could they believe them? Does God even exist? If God is there, then why were they in slavery? Can God be trusted?
So God gave them a sign—the Sabbath. The metaphor that the Jewish people have used for Sabbath is the wedding ring between God and God’s people. For God, the Sabbath shows that He is faithful and will take care of His people so that they can find rest. For the people, it shows that they do indeed trust God to care for them so that they can rest.
In future blogs I will discuss how to develop a Sabbath habit in the world today. For now I simply ask you to consider your current Sabbath habits. Do you have a view of the importance of Sabbath that is at all close to God’s?