So here I am typing on a computer about Sabbath….on a Sunday night. Relax, blogging is how I chill out thru contemplation.
In my quiet times in the mornings, I have been reading the thru the second half of Exodus. Among all these instructions, I have been particularly struck by how important God considers the idea of Sabbath rest. (Entering the rest of God.)
Let me point out something in Exodus 31:15 that may strike you as a little harsh:
15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death.
This isn’t a sermon so I’m not going to embark on an apologetic as to how God can kill people that seem to be workaholics. I would, however, like to invite you to wander with me in my thoughts.
So as those who worked on the Sabbath were to be put to death, it is true to say that ignoring the Sabbath leads to death, spiritual death anyway. It’s so important that God protects the Sabbath because he is more aware than anyone of the risks to an entire culture/society should it ignore it. Think on that.
In the creation narrative of Genesis, God obviously rests on the 7th day, but what is crucial is that this rest comes after he has said that all that he sees is very good. There’s a note of deep, enormous satisfaction. In other words, the ‘content’ of God’s rest on the 7th day is literally his contemplation of creation. Now if all creation proclaims the glory of God then the 7th day is further reducible to: God contemplates his glory. That would be the most narcissistic thing ever….right up until you throw the doctrine of the Trinity into the mix…..a community of its members giving constant adoration to each other.
To be in the relationship with God is to be invited into the community of the Godhead Anyway, without falling into a trinitarian discussion the length of Augustine’s, the real kicker question for self-application is this:
Do I view the concept of rest and relaxation as the contemplation of God’s glory or the gratification of the various temporary desires of my sinful heart?
Translation: would I rather sit and think about God, or have a godly conversation with my wife etc…..than flick on the telly, or look up some nonsense on youtube. Adoration is what we do with our time that we don’t have to do anything with.
Before I sound too holy, I’m going to come right out and say that this question came into my mind because this week looked the precise opposite of what I wanted it to. Sick for most of it, it was just far too easy to flick on a screen and engage with mindless trash even and especially when I should have probably and simply gone to bed earlier. I’m even more susceptible to sin when I’m tired and run down, which are ironically the very times that I need a fresh vision of who God is the most. It’s in this space that it occurs to me that there is a level of discipline that is required in learning to truly rest well. That is the deepest rest that you can experience lies on the other side of the formation of healthy habits. Even if it is as simple as writing to you guys sharing some God thoughts rather than channel surfing on a Sunday night.
(Btw, you may be able to channel surf with discipline but it’s a weakness for me that causes me to stay up way too late.)
I, you, we sin when and because we are not captivated by God. But we are often not captivated because we are distracted. We are often distracted because we have not developed a rhythm of godly rest. We have not developed that rhythm because we do not define rest as the contemplation of glory.
In our Protestant tradition with its world-famous work ethic, we’re often on about ‘spiritual growth’. But someone has to stand in these conversations and remind folks that spiritual growth is defined as the growth in intimacy with God before it is ever growth in effectiveness, fruitfulness, wisdom or profundity. I believe that intimacy with God comes from being regularly amazed at him.
There are times when I look at my wife’s face and within the recesses of my mind whisper a quiet ‘wow’. There is a certain glory to her beautiful face that I can’t put a finger on but it’s there, like a fingerprint of a creator somehow even more beautiful.y
Yet I think that there is a dark place in our sinful hearts that get’s anxious when we start discussing the theology of the Sabbath and godly rest because we know deep down that it is what we spend our leisure time on and what we classify as ‘rest’ which reveal the deepest love(s) of our heart. Meanwhile, Jesus regularly took ‘breaks’ simply to commune with his Father.
what is the most restful thought you can imagine?
The great news is that if it is the glory of God, you can be at complete rest on a tropical island with a pina-colada, or in the middle of the most otherwise stressful situation you’ve ever experienced because “there is light up there which no darkness can touch.” (Samwise to Frodo in The Return of the King.”