Vacation...Undone (part 2)

Remember The LORD Creator

Sabbath surfaces more than a few times as Scripture accelerates out of Genesis.  Exodus 31 is a curious instance that is often missed.  For 11 chapters the LORD has been instructing Moses upon Mount Sinai, downloading various instructions for His people – the Ten Commandments, laws about slaves and animals and making restitution, laws about social justice and annual festivals, blueprints for the tabernacle and patterns for priestly clothes – and as the reader comes to the end of this unit of Scripture there is found to be one thing that “Above all you shall keep…,” namely “my Sabbaths.”  Who’s Sabbaths?  That’s right, God’s.  But why shall we keep Sabbath’s “above all?”  Listen in…

“…that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.”  (vs. 13b)  Why?  Because there is a particular aspect of knowing deeply just who has set you apart…the LORD himself has.

“…it is holy for you…a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.”  (vs. 14 & 15)  Why?  Because Sabbath is a gift for you; not one that gets boxed away on a shelf in the closet, for it is a gift of utmost and holy importance to the LORD.

“…in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”  (vs. 17)  Why?  Because at this point the question flies in your face, “What did you do in six days?”  It is rhetorical to be sure, yet it kind of flattens our idols, huh?

Reality is, you and I are not creators.  Sure, we have our hands on lots of things throughout the week and some of us have occupations that require us to build and construct things.  That does not, however, make us a Creator.  The fact that we are immersed in commerce and enterprise six days a week does not mean we attain the rank of Creator, as much as we often act like it does.

We will always be a part of creation and Sabbath allows us time and space to appropriate that, to remember and re-center ourselves on the fact that God is Creator and we are not.  We are creation; a part and parcel of the Almighty’s creative work.  In Ephesians 2:10, Paul suggests we are “God’s workmanship.”  The Greek word imagines a written and finely crafted work of art on display to be noticed and read.   That is pretty special.  Certainly more so than other parts and parcels of God’s created order.  But not so special that we may assume a status greater than creation.  And Sabbath guards us from such assumptions.

Remember The LORD Redeemer

Deuteronomy 5 is another locale where Sabbath surfaces.  The passage lives in the shadow of Exodus 20, or at best it follows from it, as they both recount the Ten Commandments.  Side-by-side, they read nearly identically…with one particular variance.  And yes, the variance is found in commandment number four on observing the Sabbath.  Where Exodus 20:11 ends the Sabbath commandment with a similar reminding purpose as that of Exodus 31:17; of pointing backward toward creation’s story and remembering just who Creator is, Deuteronomy 5:15 ends with a very different reminding purpose.  Listen in…

“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you…  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.”  (vs. 12, 15)

Exodus 20 came before 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and complaining about living conditions and water and food.  Exodus 20 came before the oft longing to return to what the nation of Israel had come to assume was home.  Exodus 20 came right on the heels of the grand departure from Egypt.  Exodus 20 had Creation in mind because much of the pomposity and splendor leading up to the nation’s exodus placed the grand array of the LORD Creator’s power and might on display for the world to see.  Deuteronomy 5 came 40 years later.  Now the nation of Israel is on the edge of the Promise Land.  The pressing necessity is to remember that once you were slaves, but now you are on the verge of freedom; redeemed by the LORD Redeemer, bought for a price and owned, and all that by the same power and might of the LORD Creator.

Straight up, you and I…we do not belong to school or work or the home or church or anything else.  The things that occupy our time day-in-and-day-out do not constitute an identity.  We belong to God.  And for those who live on this side of the cross of Jesus Christ; both historically and relationally, He alone constitutes our identity.  He alone affirms who we most deeply are.

Sabbath then becomes a time and space to remember that it is by grace we were and are being saved from sin and death.  We don’t live under the taskmaster’s of Egypt anymore; under the heavy burden of sin and death.  We have been bought and owned; redeemed by the LORD Redeemer, by the “mighty (and pierced) hand and outstretched arm” of Jesus Christ.


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