Today’s Chocolate: Lily’s 55% Cocoa Almond Dark Chocolate Today’s Passage: Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and related passages Welcome, everyone, to the conclusion of our survey of the Sabbath in the Bible. Before we tie a bow on this one, I wanted to step back and take a look at everywhere we’ve been, ask, “What’s the takeaway from here?” […]
Some mentions of the Sabbath in the Bible won’t tell you much of anything about how to keep the Sabbath because they’re too literal. Remember all those times the Sabbath comes up in Acts that we skipped over because it’s just “on the Sabbath this thing happened?” Well, the fourth chapter of Hebrews is almost on the opposite side of the spectrum: you’ll barely find any guidelines or pointers on keeping the Sabbath because the chapter’s so metaphorical. …Or will you?
Reading what Paul had to say about the Sabbath in his letter to the Colossians, I couldn’t help but think of a verse from one of his other letters: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). The Sabbath isn’t meant to be a yoke or a burden; it’s meant to provide freedom and rest. And if you intend to keep it, it defeats the purpose to load it up with so many restrictions that keeping the Sabbath itself becomes work!
We need to tie up a loose end from yesterday before we get into today’s passage. Yesterday, while driving to my evening job right after finishing up the day’s post, it hit me: what if Jesus has been arguing from his opponents’ perspective in these problematic passages from John, in order to point out the flaws in their reasoning? What if he’s in essence saying, “If you think my healings qualify as ‘work,’ you’d better be prepared to admit a whole host of other lesser things into the can’t-do-it-on-Sabbath club–including the stuff you do for your animals and sons, and even the stuff the Law requires you to do?”
What is work, anyway? The Jewish religious leaders of Jesus’ time think they’ve got a handle on what work is and isn’t. Carrying a pallet? Work. Fishing your ox or son out of the well he’s fallen into? Not work. Miraculous healings? Definitely work. But the fourth commandment simply says, “You shall not do any work on the Sabbath…”
Of course Jesus heals on the other six days of the week. But those healings don’t draw heat like the Sabbath healings do.
Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Mint Dark Chocolate Today’s Passages: Luke 13:10-17. Luke 14:1-6 When the Sabbath gets mentioned in the gospels, it’s often because something or other happened on the Sabbath: for example, in Mark 1:21, Mark 6:2, or Matthew 28:1/Mark 16:1. During the Olivet Discourse, Jesus notes, “But pray that your flight will not be in the […]
What’s the point of the Sabbath? When we take a day of rest, who do we take it for: ourselves, or God? When the Pharisees raise a fuss over Jesus’ disciples snacking on grain on the Sabbath, these are the questions at the heart of their contention.
Have I told the story of the time I got in trouble for losing my TV privileges? No? Okay, let’s open with that one. One Saturday morning when I was 8, I got my TV privileges revoked. I don’t remember what evil I had committed to incur such a penalty, but that morning when my parents took me to Queen City Fitness center, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV in the lounge. However, they hadn’t said anything about hearing TV. So, while my dad went swimming and my mom went to her aerobics class, I went behind the lounge couch and listened to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the couch blocking my view of the TV. When dad found me behind the couch, back to the TV set, I received a stern lecture about the letter and the spirit of the law. And I relate that story because 1) you’ve got to introduce your blog post somehow, and 2) the letter and the spirit of the law are what today’s passage from the prophet Amos are all about.
The second chapter of Hosea accuses Israel of violating the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2). The indictment is set up as a divorce case between God the faithful husband and his adulterous wife. He gives her grain, new wine, oil, silver, and gold, which she turns around and offers to the pagan god Baal. For her sin, he vows to take away not only the gifts, but also her Sabbaths: “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her festal assemblies” (Hosea 2:11). This verse can easily be another record-scratch moment: is God putting an end to Israel’s obedience, in essence compelling her to disobey?