Keeping the Sabbath is such a sensitive, and often confused, issue today.
What should we do and what should we not do?
Is it okay to do homework on Sunday? Can we buy out or must we always cook?
When He first introduced the concept of keeping one day out of seven a special rest day, God gave His people a detailed list of how they were to keep the Sabbath, to help them.
Before long, as well as becoming familiar with the concept of keeping the Sabbath, they also (inevitably) abused and misunderstood/misinterpreted it; making the Sabbath one of the main outcries of the OT prophets in the pre-Messianic books of the Bible. Nehemiah. Jeremiah. Amos. Ezekiel. And Isaiah.
As New Testament Christians, Jesus did not give us a list of specific do's and don'ts as the Old Testament Israelites were given. Instead, He came with a radical new take on keeping the Sabbath--seeing it as a joyful privilege we do for the benefit it gives us, rather than yet another task that our goodness depends on.
Christ taught us to see the Sabbath as a day on which to do good to our souls and the souls of others.
On every other day, we tend (naturally) to focus on doing what is good for our bodies; working, eating, exercising, relaxing, surviving. We tend to neglect our souls' needs, as result; whether neglecting our devotions, cutting short our prayer time, not having the time to help and care for others or have fellowship with them, or simply to enjoy and reflect on the goodness of God, and our own relationship with Him.
Isaiah 58:13-14 speaks very plainly on what God desires from us on the Sabbath, and why:
"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
nor finding your own pleasure,
nor speaking your own words,
Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord..."
I think that's pretty clear for us.
The Sabbath is not the same as a holiday. We are not to see it and use it as we would an ordinary holiday--just another off day to do what we want, to have fun and relax however we wish, to do our pleasure--because that would be misusing/abusing and misinterpreting it, treating it exactly as a normal off day except that we sacrifice a few hours to go to church first. Holidays are a separate blessing from God, another blessing for our body and physical needs.
The Sabbath is set apart as the 'holy day of the Lord'. For honor.
Not for our personal partying or chillin'.
On the other hand, God also warns us to avoid the other extreme (we humans are so prone to falling to extremes); seeing the Sabbath as a rigid, joyless, obligation, a day of self-denial.
Call the Sabbath a delight. God means it to be a day of refreshment and delight for us. Perhaps a different sort of delight than what we commonly seek after and think of, but delight all the same. A delight that will empower us for the week ahead, that will cause us to delight in the Lord more, and deeper, even in the midst of our 'other' delights...
Perhaps we need to apply this by looking at our motives for doing what we do.
I was deliberating whether or not to do something until I realized, by taking a closer look, that my motives weren't exactly for the good of my soul, but rather for my own pleasure. (We are such earthy creatures; our bodily needs and wants and delights make our soul's seem almost non-existent in comparison!) Sure, I had sanitized it by thinking it was also a chance to spend time with my grandma in her room, talk to her; but really it was just to gratify myself--I knew I wasn't going to be doing much meaningful talking or interacting; the main reason why I wanted to was so I could lump comfortably on the sofa and passively watch a TV program! There you go. Nothing soulful here, all earthy flesh and pleasure. Of course this doesn't mean I judge everyone who watches TV on a Sunday; I just know it's better for me, at least, not to. Definitely an activity I would keep for the rest of the week, for 'body-time' rather than Sunday's soul-time.
After all, we have but one soul-day in the week, and six body-days (including holidays and the like.) Let us use our one soul-day well.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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