04 December 2011

Sabbath made for man: 4th in a series on Restlessness

Darlene Zschech leading worship at Hillsong Conference
This is now the 4th blog on rest and restlessness.  And my theme today is rhythm.

In music, I like rhythm. I like melody, to be sure, and harmony, and all the components that make up music, but I can't get away from rhythm. Maybe that’s because the beat stays with me even if I forget words or lilt. The other night I was playing guitar, leading the singing at the OneNewMan fellowship in Waverley (NSW) and saw everyone's feet tapping along with the rhythm of the songs. Nice feeling. We all got onto the same rhythm and we all were together together.

God gave us rhythm, not only in music, but also through the annual cycle of events in the Jewish calendar. That calendar is most notably listed in the Bible book of Leviticus chapter 23. That chapter starts by listing a weekly Sabbath, a time to pull apart (rather than being pulled apart by) [from] regular work and let our timing get in sync with God. He rested; we should rest. That's sensible.

I remember hearing a medical doctor discuss an issue related to menstruation. He cited studies showing that women all living in a certain house, and though they all had different menstrual cycles at the beginning of their living situation, as they lived together, their cycles all came into sync with one another. That’s a unity of rhythm that would have been notable to be sure.

But it's more than history, although it's at least historic. It's about God being with us in our lives today and throughout our days. And when we get in sync with God’s rhythm, we are truly one. We think God’s thoughts; we hear God’s voice; we do God’s will.

Let's clarify this. Jewish holidays are not festivals in the style of Australia Day or US Independence Day.  The Hebrew word for these days is mo’ed. Mo'ed is used more like an appointment than a flag-waving time. More like, "Hello Mr Mendelsohn, this is God's office ringing. You have an appointment on Saturday with the Almighty. Will you be able to keep your appointment?" 

If you don't keep that appointment, according to way-too-many places in the Bible, you are sinning. Ouch. Restlessness is sin. 

Get these:  Exodus 20.10  "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 manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates."

While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the 
Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and 
the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what 
should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole 
assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp 
and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.  (Numbers 15:32-36)
 
When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we 
will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will 
forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. (Nehemiah 10.31) 

If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as 
you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD'S 
holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not 
doing as you please or speaking idle words,then you will find your joy in the LORD, 
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the 
inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58.13-14)
 
 But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying 
any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, 
then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will 
consume her fortresses.'" (Jeremiah 17.27) 

And there are heaps more. It's clear. Rest is required, and remembering God as Creator and Deliverer. He wants us to remember that He made the earth in 6 days (the world has significantly forgotten that one in the last 200 years) and that He brought the Jewish people out of slavery in Egypt under Moses 3500 years ago. That's what Sabbath was about. Rest and remembrance. 

How about that? Do those today and see how that works out for you.

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