Friday, November 22, 2013

The Scales Fell From My Eyes and I Saw... Shabbat

Shabbat candles lit just before sunset...
  I think it is a beautifulreminder.
 One is to "remember why" and the other
 to "keep it Holy".
A few months ago I began to fervently pray that God would show me things I was doing that he wasn't pleased with.  Over and over again he has gently brought this up with me, until I could no longer ignore it and had to do some homework.  What I learned, when I really looked, changed me.  The fourth commandment of the ten, states that God blessed the seventh day and made it Holy.  He commanded that we, our children, our servants and even the aliens living among us, do no work on that day. That pretty much covered everybody.  I never really saw that he specifically said the seventh day before.  That was, is and will always be Saturday.

Then...I was reading in Nehemiah when they were rebuilding Jerusalem.  Nehemiah would not let the market sellers in to sell anything on the Sabbath.  He made them lock the gates.  He didn't even want them to stay outside the gates, so they could come in as soon as possible. Those merchants were not God's people and yet they were not allowed to sell  or set up shop on the Sabbath.  So much for paying people who are not choosing to follow the commandments to work for me on the day of rest. This is something that bothered me every time I read or taught about the ten commandments but I never did anything about it.

When I began to research what the history of  attending church on Sunday was, my heart received it's answer.   Early Christians began to meet on Sunday to celebrate together because Christ rose on a Sunday.  They did not however give up observing the Sabbath.  They simply chose to meet  together on Sundays as well.  The first Caesar to convert to Christianity is the one who made it law to observe the Sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday.  It was a man made change.  I believe it was well meaning... but none the less, it was a man's decision.  This was all made even more conflict ridden when later on, another leader forbid people from observing the Sabbath on Sunday.  Insert the "you want what you are told you can't have" syndrome and we find ourselves in modern day.

Here is what I know.  God does not change.  He rewards those who love his law and keep it with their whole heart.  It was important enough to him to create the Sabbath, to make a commandment to keep it in this manner, and to give examples through his own son about it. Jesus showed us that we were not to legalize it to death but he never defiled it.  Rather, He said that it was for our benefit. I believe the Word of God is true and so... I will do my best to honor the commandment as he wrote it.   As a family we looked at the scriptures and were all in agreement that it was the right thing for us to do.  Not being Jewish, we will not try to follow the laws and restrictions of the Sabbath in the way they do, but we will adhere to the Biblical description and instruction.  Once the decision was made, I cannot tell you the weight that was lifted off my heart.  Suddenly I could see so clearly the beauty of his design.  We will have a day to meet with other Christians and then work together to plan for the coming week.  We can clean the house and do the chores as a family, making very quick, light work, of a job that is long and hard for me alone.  We will have Monday through Friday to focus on work, school and activities. Then, with the setting of the sun on Friday, we will be free to relax, sleep in on Saturday, play together as a family or with friends, without any pressure, as we are not participating in commerce or working.  God knew we would need a break.  A real break.  Not a break between one thing and the next... a real day of rest.  I am humbled that he planned all this for me and I have never bothered to accept it.

Part of me wants to say "I know this isn't for everybody" and part of me wants to jump up and down waving my arms and cry out to you "God wants this for everybody!!!".  It's strange how after years of thinking it didn't matter what day it was, as long as you took one day not to work, (or tried to... or meant to... but didn't really) that now the scales are off my eyes and I see so clearly.  It is right there next to thou shall not murder, steal, lie or have any other gods.  It's there in black and white but I didn't see it.  Maybe I didn't want to. Somehow I convinced myself that only nine of the commandments were still important (goodness knows I wouldn't toss aside any of the others so blithely).  I am following Jesus.  I know this is something he did and I will do it too.  I love God's law.  I know the difference between loving it and being put back under it and this is not that.  I feel such a peace and excitement about it. Maybe I'm crazy... or maybe I'm on to something. Shabbat Shalom y'all!