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Shabbat Shalom

There’s no reason I can’t share my sin with you. I share so many other things.

Several years ago, Father God convicted me to honor the Sabbath. Without going into whether it is truly on Saturday or Sunday, sun up or sun down, I will continue.

He made it very plain that it is still and will forever on earth remain one of The Ten Commandments. It’s in the “top ten.” That’s elite status, particularly when You think that God’s fingers don’t write that many letters – no less, in stone,  so no eraser or wear and tear could blot out its message.

It was during this time when The Lord was speaking to me strongly about the Sabbath that I tested God. I distinctly remember going to the mall for something. I knew that this little trip didn’t have to occur on Shabbat (the Sabbath). Before there was E-Z Pass at the booths, the toll collectors would give us back change for our dollar. I could see that the poor toll collector was suffering from a serious cold. As she handed me the change, I knew I was done. Sure enough, within a day or so, I had a rare cold that I can still remember almost 20 years later.

As if that wasn’t enough, I repeated the offense a year or two later. This time, it was to pick up a day bed for my daughter. Why I thought I had to do it on a Sunday is beyond me. My schedule opened up so I went. Feeling guilty all of the way to the store, I proceeded to get the bed, strain to put it on top of the van and drive home. That very next day, my back was in spasms and it lasted long enough so the lesson wouldn’t be forgotten.

These were blatant acts of disobedience. I knew I wasn’t supposed to work. Most chores can wait. There are exceptions and Jesus makes that clear: “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” Luke 14:5

Flash forward 15 years and it’s about as beautiful a Shabbat as one can imagine. My pool lies before me in the front yard and my four-wheeler sits at the back porch steps. Hmmmm. What to do? Enjoy nature on my ATV or sit and relax at the pool and read? I decided to go for a ride that would warm me up a bit and jump in the pool and then read. It was going as planned until I constantly stopped to snip the path’s overgrowth with my shears. This wasn’t rest. This had turned into another one of the thousand chores on the property. And then it happened. I saw a rotted tree partially infringing on my path. I kicked it to break it, but only the end was rotted and my foot got lodged between the log and my four-wheeler and almost snapped my ankle in half. Fortunately, I wasn’t going that fast.

I simply prayed, “Grace, Grace” and I feel that Jesus somehow had mercy. The best lessons are the ones we remember. If it takes pain for the more stubborn amongst us to remember the lesson, then I can’t complain.

People think Shabbat is a little strange and inhibiting. Depending on how you celebrate it (yes, I said, “Celebrate”), it’s not constraining at all. It’s the most liberating feeling in the world. Like a time clock for the weary worker, you literally punch out. I try to keep it simple. I try to preclude myself from chores. I have been guilty of going to restaurants and a grocery store which results in someone else having to work on the Sabbath. I’m “working” through that one. When I was a teenager and worked in a nursing home, I certainly had to work on a Sunday.

But the spirit of The Sabbath is REST. To cease from our labor. It’s not only a freeing and needed concept, it’s so poignant. God created the world in six days and then rested. He was modeling that there is a time when chores are finished, done, complete…Kapish*?

Plumbing the true depth of the concept of sabbath-rest, Jesus said, “It is finished,” when He died on the cross for our sins. DONE! ONCE FOR ALL! The bookends of theology from creation to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is that of completion.

The remarkable thing in the Old Testament and New Testament is that humans still think we have something to add to something that’s complete. That’s why we work on sabbaths. Because we feel we have to be in charge of getting things done instead of trusting God that He is going to provide for us, even AS we rest. That means He is doing it, not us.

Bridging the two testaments is an interesting section of the Book of Hebrews. To sum up the Shabbat-part of this book, it says that those in the Exodus from Egypt who disobeyed God by not believing in His promises to care for them never made it into the promised land – His “rest” for them. They died in the Desert of Sin, literally. Well, kind of. It was there where they stubbornly refused to believe in God’s deliverance for them; the very thing many did in the New Testament and still others do today! Reading Chapters 3 & 4  in Hebrews in full are the best way to plum this incredible truth, but for the sake of brevity, here is the admonishing bridge from that writer:

“So in my anger I [God] took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’” Hebrews 3:11

“So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.” Hebrews 4:11

Disobedience often stems from unbelief. As you can see from the above, judgment awaits those who refuse to believe in the completed work of Christ. We all need to stop trying to add anything above the cross. Even good works, which should be the result of our faith, don’t add one single ounce of justification to our case.

That is why The Sabbath is so profound. It’s in resting in the knowledge that God, through Jesus Christ, has things covered. Because of this, we are free from our labor. It is finished. Punch out. Sit by your pool. Kapish?

*”Kapish” is Italian slang for: “You understand, you idiot?” Well, not quite that harsh…but almost.

BELOW: APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH, THIS GREAT BOOK SITS ON A PILLOW. I SNAPPED THE PHOTO ON THE SABBATH, BUT AFTER SUNSET 🙂 … 

photo copy 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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