Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy Deuteronomy 5:12
Holy – Go fishing! Is that what you think of when you hear the words, “keep it holy?” Or are you immediately convicted, bringing to mind the classic image of someone spending the day is mediation, prayer and Scripture reading, seated on a hard wooden pew under the stained glass windows? Is that what qadosh (to set apart) means? Are you ready for a shock? Most of that picture of guilt and grit is just plain wrong. The sabbath is supposed to be a day of heavenly frolic. Let’s see why.
Viola and Barna (in their book, Pagan Christianity) show that nearly every aspect of our modern worship comes from imported pagan rituals. The building, the candles, the stained glass, the pews, the pulpit, the choir robes and even the professional clergy all come from pagan religions, imported by Constantine and others in an attempt to fit pagan worship into Christian circles. When you think about it, it makes sense. You can’t find reference to any of these things in the Bible’s view of worship. So, making the sabbath holy can’t have anything to do with sanctuaries or pews, clergy or hymnbooks.
Mark Buchanan’s book, The Rest of God, offers some help. The concentration of this command is to stop working. That means that you quit doing all the ordinary, everyday economic and provision functions that occupy the other six days. On this day, you enter into God’s rest by doing something out of the ordinary – like going fishing or walking in the park; going on a picnic or spending a day in front of a nice fire; visiting a friend or watching the sunrise over the ocean. In other words, you learn to take your eyes off the frantic pace of life and cast your gaze on God’s great creation. You meditate on His magnificence found all around you.
Of course, that’s only the beginning. The sabbath is also for listening. Sit still under the apple tree. Can you hear God rustling in the leaves? Go into a quite room. Do you hear Him singing to you? Open His book. Doesn’t His voice echo through the ages?
This might lead you to reconsider your priorities. That’s part of the sabbath too. Getting first things first in preparation for another busy week means spending time apart with God. The sabbath is a time-reorientation exercise, a time to empty myself of my unfinished agendas and enter into God’s flow in the universe. It’s a time to commune with God in the wasteland of my soul.
In addition, the sabbath is a time to recognize that legalism interferes with enjoying God. The sabbath is not rules and rituals. It is the opportunity for relationship. Isaiah says that the true character of the sabbath is found in delight. The sabbath is made for joy. Maybe it’s a day when what you do brings absolute delight to your soul – and you share all that delight with God. So, maybe you should go fishing, and if you have time, stop by the church and invite the pastor to go with you. He needs some rest too.
Topical Index: Commandments, Sabbath