How the Sabbath Principle Affects How We Endure In A Crisis
- Leaving the "Gleanings" Behind
Remember the Sabbath day by keep it Holy. Six days you will toil and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath [Shabbath, 7676 (in Strong's concordance Hebrew dictionary) from shabath, 7673: to repose, i.e., desist from exertion; cease, celebrate, rest, still. 7676: intermission ] to the Lord your God. On that day you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, not your animals, not the foreigner within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. - Exodus 20:8-11
Exactly what are we supposed to do on the Sabbath? How do we observe it? Is it through inactivity? Or simply putting off business? Surely it is recognition of God as our Provider, as we suspend our normal work of procuring for our survival. During the Sabbath we surrender our reflexive habit of urgently reacting to the events in our environment - telling ourselves that we're going to solve them - and instead apply our trust in the provision of God as we honor Him. Work is necessary to life; so too is our awareness that it is God who provides the good results from our work. Man's psychology is such that when we see our hands doing the work, we see ourselves as the creators of our survival. The strain, pain, and aggravation of work makes us feel as though our aggravation is the source of our success - it's hard to see it as a provision from God. The Sabbath intermission compels us to see how God's hand is upon our lives and will provide whatever we need: either through His anointing on our work the first six days of the week, or through supernatural provision as we practice the Sabbath and abandon our ego's craving to feel that we're in control of everything.
If we assumed that nothing would get done except by our own natural effort, where would that leave us when we consider physical death? This is the physical culmination of all the "critical" labor we perform, and it's a vivid reminder that we need to come to terms with God if we are to inherit eternal life. How then can we fight our natural instincts? God has established the Sabbath so we can train our carnal mind to see that God is in control. When a crisis comes up - things we do not have physical control over - then, we will actually know that God will provide deliverance, instead of panicking in our natural ignorance. The Sabbath routine compels our carnal mind to yield to our spirit's submission to God, and that puts this earthly life into perspective: This world is low and temporary, and the things we deeply yearn for exist only in the eternal world of heaven. As earnest as we may be in pursuing God's will, nothing will cause our minds to know God is real until we surrender part of our physical control over the things in our lives and see God at work supernaturally.
It is the same way with tithes and offerings and the way we do business.
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very borders of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 23:22
This allowed for the basic survival of people who were outside the system of commerce. It is a key principle to any of the work we undertake:
...let him labor, doing something good so that he may have something to give to one in need. - Ephesians 4:28b
This is an awareness that we thrive not just by harvesting, but also by relinquishing a part of what we reaped - it becomes a "seed" that eventually grows into prosperity in our lives. It is almost impossible for our physical mind to grasp this. In fact, "reasoning" and "logic" cannot persuade the mind that any of this is viable. But reason and logic cannot produce eternal life!
Matthew 11:25 - At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."
And it is only by personal practice that we can see firsthand the laws of God providing the results we need in our lives. After a lifetime of seeing God's supernatural provision, it is then no strain on our faith to understand how God will deliver us from this broken life into eternal life.
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?" He answered then, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. - Mark 2:23-28
Adhering to a formal ceremony in observing the Sabbath results in a grudgingly-given "devotion", all of it only on the surface. It strips the Believer of fully understanding the Sabbath's purpose, and sets up a barrier to receiving its benefits. A man of God is to develop an intuition about what is right and good - not robotically memorize every law in existence. We need to be self-controlled enough to hear from God as situations come up - and then follow His revelations without any human "authority" dictating to us on God's behalf:
And the Lord told [Samuel], "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but me... But warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do..." "...He will take your sons and make them serve... he will take the best of your fields... When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day." - 1 Samuel 8:7, 9. 11. 14. 18
This is a mighty principle: it's at the root of the majority of the world's problems today - people's desire to have a human "authority" over them instead of intuitively following God. The ego wants to see the authority figure - God is "invisible" to the carnal mind. In these verses in the 8th chapter of 1 Samuel, the people's desire for a king offended God, for it revealed their devotion to the concept of "worldly authority" - because this would impress the other nations. God instead wanted them to be able to hear from Him and have the self-determination to carry-out what He had commanded of them, and to seek Him out of their own accord. For in doing this, they would have found their highest joy - God designed us like that. In that day a priest was needed as a representative of God. But under the New Covenant, Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 3:1 - ...fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.). And although there are those who are anointed to minister and to teach, ultimately our devotion is not to men, but to God. He wants us to press into His presence and govern ourselves without the faulty admonishments of human authorities to motivate us. This practice of relinquishing a part of our time and possessions brings us into a state where God can more clearly be understood by us and keep us aware and ready for that eternal reality with Him - and put this temporary world in its place.
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." - Mark 2:27
© John Erickson