Tuesday, April 25, 2017
I know the fourth commandment. "Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8) It is not hard to understand. The story of creation found in Genesis speaks of a creator God who created for six days and "rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done." (Genesis 2:2) It looks plain and simple. Work six days and rest on the seventh. But, it has never been quite that simple. There is more here than jumps off the page at us. Sabbath rest is not just about not working on the seventh day. There is something more here and that something more often makes it difficult to figure.
The most obvious thing about all this is not just the math, but the fact that God rested. The all powerful Creator of all that is and ever will be took a day for rest. Maybe that day was not a 24 hour period. Maybe it was a season of rest, or a period of rest, but it was defined and intentional rest, nonetheless. And, then, what is rest? Did God break out the Laz-Boy and put His feet up? Or, did He take a long afternoon nap? Exactly what does a resting God look like? To be truthful, it is not an image I have really tried to cultivate or understand. Did He rest out of need, or "want to," or to model how created humanity should live? Did He rest for Himself, or for us? As my old Episcopalian priest friend used to say, "Go figure."
Sometimes I think those two words, "Go figure" are the keys to coming to an understanding of Sabbath rest. I have never really been comfortable with what it seems to be saying from the surface of the page where the words hang out. It seems that there is more there underneath the words, underneath the print, and underneath the superficial understanding we too quickly claim. I keep finding myself thinking that I am not being pointed so much to a commandment as I am a way of life.