Friday, July 6, 2007

On the Seventh Day God Rested

On the Seventh Day God Rested

...So reads the end of the first creation narrative in Genesis of the Bible.

I have often glanced over the Sabbath passages in the Bible with very little notice, except as it suited me to take Saturdays off for "religious" reasons :-)

But as I was watching a History Channel documentary on the Bible, a very interesting nuance of the Sabbath was presented.

The documentary claims that pre-Hebrew cultures had no notion of a universal day off from work (universal in that everyone from slave to King got the day off). In fact, it said, many of the cultures stood careful watch over their slaves all seven days of the week - whip in hand - to make sure that there was no slacking or rebellion. It also mentioned that the gods in these cultures did the same...always on watch 24/7.

This is where the God of the Hebrews and Christians distinguishes Himself. His day off from the work and responsibilities that an Almighty Creator is charged with is a way for Him to state His confidence in the completeness of His work/creation and providence. Furthermore, it signifies that He need not watch over us like an anxious parent ready to catch us in the act of rebellion or sin (as the other non-Hebrew gods might), because He has given us the choice of doing so and provided a framework for redemption in case we did.

To me this is a very interesting trait of God's personality brought to light by one small (in)action...resting.

3 comments:

Brandon Cooper said...

Interesting also is that the Hebrews, among whom this developed, spent their fair share of time in forced labor as slaves. Also interesting is that throughout history Jews would often hire servants which were not Jewish precisely because those servants would work on the Sabbath. This leads me again to my favorite saying, "Even goyim can be useful."

Theo V. said...

yes interesting indeed... I like that saying, I'm going to start using it more often :-)

obsessiveskier said...

An old guy that I look up to once said this to me and some friends:

"The further we get away from the 6 days and a rest pattern in our lives, the further we get away from the Lord."

I'm no strict sabbatarian. I worship my God on Sunday. As a pastor I work a lot on Sundays. I occasionally go to the store or cut my grass on Sunday. And I'm especially glad that the Police and EMT's work on Sunday.

But as a pattern for life, I like the 6 days and a rest deal. I have found that the further I stray from that pattern, the further I stray from my God.

Check out Don Whitney's thoughts on "Delighting in the Lord's Day" at www.biblicalspirituality.org.