Word # 4: Work & Rest!
““Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:7)
Right now, in our world economy, we are focussing on creating financial capital of which there is an abundance! Money is cheap and plentiful. We do, however, have a shortage of human, environmental, social, relational and spiritual capitals!
Bruno Roche, top manager at Mars Inc., stated in a speech in the Dutch parliament, that his vision of prosperity in the economy is based on the biblical notions about the Sabbath. “God gave the Ten Commandments to the people of Israel when He led them out of slavery. Thus, we must be freed from our slavery of money.” According to Roche, it is a misconception that work is only rewarded with money. “It must be rewarded with rest. It is not for nothing that the words Shemitta, Shabbat, Shalom and Shekel have the same origin in Hebrew, and are all forms of remuneration.”
Shabbat, shekel, shalom and Shemitta (Sabbath year) all come from the same Hebrew root.
Roche, of Judeo-French descent, stated that it has much to say that God in His commandments sets the “Remember the Sabbath Day” before the “Thou shalt not kill” or “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. “For man it is good to rest every seventh day, for the land it is good to rest every seventh year. And in order to restore a distorted social distribution of power, God set the year of rejoicing after each 49th year.”
Sustainable prosperity in Gods economy is based on the provision of God, focussing on developing human, social and natural capital and then shared financial capital will follow. Don’t follow money, money will follow you. Money is not to accumulate but is meant to facilitate.
The Sabbath is all about celebrating who God is, and His provision for us. The idea of a sabbath was first introduced to Israel in de desert after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. The provision of God was confirmed by the provision of manna - just enough for each day. Manna could not be saved; it appeared each morning and disappeared when the sun came up. If hoarded, it spoiled.
Each day, they gathered exactly what was needed. I like to think that they could make a variety of dishes ... manna pancakes, manna pizza, manna pies and manna pasta … all my favourites!
On the sixth day of the week, they were told to gather a double amount, because the Lord instructed them not to work at gathering manna on the seventh day – it was to be a ‘sabbath’ unto the Lord.
Sabbath is based on creation and following God’s own example when He rested on the seventh day, to stop and enjoy creation. On our Sabbath, we, too can stop and enjoy God and all he has provided for us. By not working on the Sabbath we show we trust God and His provision for us, showing thankfulness for all he has given to us. It is a time of rest, recreation and renewal.
Whether or not it should be on our western Sunday, is missing the real point. Listening to devoted Christians in an Islamic state, whose Sabbath is on a Saturday, I heard, “Lord, we serve you every day. If the one day of rest happens to be on the sixth or seventh, or third or fourth – it’s of no consequence. We will take a day as a gift from you and use it for your glory.”
I have worked a CEO of two International companies and always done my utmost best not to work on a Sunday. The Lord is my Provider, not the company, not my customers, not the market.
Jesus stated that, ““The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)
The Sabbath was intended to help people, not burden them. In contrast with the grueling daily work as slaves in Egypt, the Israelites were commanded to take a full day of rest each week. In Jesus’ days, the Pharisees had morphed the Sabbath into a burden, adding restrictions beyond what God’s law said.
Making the right choices?
This Word #4 encourages us to work hard, together with the God of creation, and then – one day a week – sit back, thank Him for His provision and enjoy all He has given you!
Next week: Word # 5: “Honour your father and your mother."
... to be continued ...