Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sabbath - an intriguing practice.

A Sabbathbreaker Executed
Numbers 15:32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him. 35 And the Lord said to Moses,  “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” 36 And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.

This passage from the book of Numbers demonstrates how seriously God regarded the Sabbath.    The notes from my ESV Bible explain:

ESV Notes: This seems to be a case of sinning “with a high hand”—and publicly, too—so that the offender is actually executed, not just left to be “cut off” (cf. vv. 30–31), which applied only when the offender escaped human detection. In this case it is clear that the man has sinned, since all work on the Sabbath is prohibited (Ex. 20:10), including lighting a fire (Ex. 35:3). However, in this case the people did not know what his punishment should be: it had not been made clear what should be done to him. The mode of his execution underlines the importance of observing the Sabbath.

In my Christian life, I've always felt vaguely uncomfortable about the Sabbath.  After all, one of the Ten Commandments is "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy".  What does that mean for a Christian, a person not under the law?  Should Christians do nothing on the Sabbath but read the Bible and memorize Scripture?  

And what about Jesus' attitude towards the Sabbath?  He hated the petty, burdensome rules of the Pharisees.  He made it clear that it was fine for His disciples to pick and eat grain on the Sabbath, as they were walking through the fields.  He healed on the Sabbath, knowing that the Pharisees and scribes were watching and waiting for a chance to accuse Him.  He commanded a man to take up his bed and walk, knowing that the Jewish leaders would consider that a violation of the Sabbath.  

He did all that to show that He was Lord of the Sabbath.

Matthew 12:8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

But the verse that puzzled me the most was this one:

Mark 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Ok.  Jesus said that the Sabbath, a day of rest according to the ten commandments, was made FOR man.  It was something God designed for the good of man.  

In what way would it be good?  What day should be celebrated?  How ought the Sabbath be observed?  What are essential components of remembering the Sabbath Day?  What MUST be included, if anything?  What activities should be avoided, if any?

All of these questions niggled at me for quite some time, so when an opportunity arose to read a book on the subject, Sabbath, by Dan Allender, I jumped at the chance.  I was familiar with some of Dan Allender's teaching, having read journal articles written by him on a variety of counselling subjects.  I also read "The Wounded Heart", a book that offers practical advice to victims of abuse.  

The book was liberating for me.  I found it exhilarating, challenging, encouraging, and intriguing.  Tomorrow, I'll tell you why.  

I received this book from Booksneeze for free, on condition I write a review.  I'll write that review tomorrow.  

Colossians 2:16   Let No One Disqualify You
Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.


  1. Oooooh. You've piqued my interest.

    I've been pondering the same thing recently. Interested in the review.

  2. Hmmm... Interesting!

    Looking forward to your review, as well. :)

  3. I've been pondering this same thing. Hurry up and write more.

    Please. :D

    (Curious to know if we came to the same conclusion)


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