The Word for today:
mark this: Leviticus 25:2-4
Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.
In Israel, what was the most important day of the week?
Everybody knows that the answer is “the Sabbath day.”
But do you know why the Sabbath was such a big deal?
No, the Sabbath was not a big deal because that’s the day they went to “church” (synagogue). In fact, it’s the other way around: they went to church on the Sabbath because the Sabbath was a big deal in its own right.
Which brings us back to the question: What made the Sabbath such a big deal—such a big deal that one of the Ten Commandments is dedicated to its observance? (1)
If you are not quite sure, know that Stand in the Rain is not in the business of making you feel dumb. We are in the opposite business—of making you scripturally smart, smarter, and smartest.
We have only three days left in Leviticus, so we saved the best for last. Over the next three days, we are going to make you smart–about the Sabbath (the seventh day).
Then we are going to make you smarter—about the sabbatical (seventh) year.
Then we are going to make you smartest—about the greatest of them all, the year of Jubilee, which occurred in the Sabbath year squared (seven times seven).
If you stand in the rain for the next three days, you will be 7 x 7 x 7 times smarter (about the Sabbath and Jubilee, anyway) than you are right now!
I wrote all those sevens just to knock them down. So here goes: Sabbath does not mean seventh, it means rest!
It was commemorated on the seventh day, but only because that’s when God rested:
On the seventh day, having finished his task, God rested from all his work.
And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from his work of creation. (Genesis 2:2-3)
“Seventh day” has been so closely associated with “Sabbath” that people (including Yours Truly) sometimes think that’s what Sabbath means. It does not!
Let’s say it this way: If God had rested on the fourth day, then the Sabbath would have been commemorated on the fourth day.
So we must always equate Sabbath with rest (or cessation from work, however you want to say it.) If we can get that equation embedded into our understanding, then rest assured that the rest of our discussion (which will have everything to do with rest and absolutely nothing to do with when we should go to church) will be beneficial.
Sabbath is a condition of the soul. It is a reflection of our relationship to God. It is not confined to a day or even to time itself.
We’ll see you tomorrow, when we will pick up right here where we left off. Between now and then, we hope the rest of your day is wonderful and that you get some rest tonight.
(1) Exodus 20:8-11