“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:8-10)
Yesterday I spoke about the concept of “remembering” in relation to the Sabbath day. Today I want to make note of another word used in conjunction with Sabbath, found in Deuteronomy 5:12. It is most often translated as “observe” or “keep” but is literally translated as “guard.” The idea is that we are to guard against those things that would encroach upon the Sabbath to make it like any other day. For it to serve its intended purpose, common activities are supposed to be put on pause. The logical question that some would ask is, “What kind of things are we talking about?”
When that question arose many centuries ago, Judaism was more than happy to make a list of things prohibited on Sabbath, and as it almost always is with religious regulation, the intent of the Sabbath was lost in the regimen prescribed by those with a religious (as opposed to a relational) mindset. Or let’s look at it this way: instead of be guided by the Spirit of God in how to walk things out, men were being governed by the letter of the Law as interpreted by other men.
Time and again, Messiah challenged this religious mindset throughout His ministry including traditions associated with the Sabbath. For example, after He had healed a man with a withered hand, someone dared to ask, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” His response was, not only was it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, these religious men had missed the whole point of the Sabbath. Man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was given to man as a blessing.
This thought is what brings us to our main point today. God gives us instructions in how to live in order to promote life and well being – not to impede life and make us miserable. The only thing His Word intends to bring into bondage is the evil inclinations of mankind. Thus He says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD” (Leviticus 18:5). We must always remember that our God is the God of the living, not the dead. Therefore, we must guard against the inclination to transform what He said into something that is merely religious routine. His Word is life and it promotes blessing and peace for us and our families if we are willing to embrace it with our whole heart.
Blessings and Shalom,