Shabbat Shalom

Matthew 5:18 and Exodus 20:8-11 have me contemplating what my life will look like following sundown tonight until sundown tomorrow.

Even more importantly, Isaiah 58 has me contemplating what His Word proves is the “rest” that is “keeping it holy”.

Sabbath Rest:

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” – Matthew 5:17-20

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days the lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” – Exodus 20:8-11
“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.
Shout aloud! Don’t be timid.
Tell my people Israel of their sins!
Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves.
Even while you fast,
you keep oppressing your workers.
What good is fasting
when you keep on fighting and quarreling?
This kind of fasting
will never get you anywhere with me.
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the lord?
 
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want:
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned;
lighten the burden of those who work for you.
Let the oppressed go free,
and remove the chains that bind people.
Share your food with the hungry,
and give shelter to the homeless.
Give clothes to those who need them,
and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
 
“Then your salvation will come like the dawn,
and your wounds will quickly heal.
Your godliness will lead you forward,
and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind.
Then when you call, the LORD will answer.
‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.
Remove the heavy yoke of oppression.
Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors!
Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.
Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.
The LORD will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring.
Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities.
Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls
and a restorer of homes.
 
Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the lord’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the LORD will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the lord, have spoken!” – Isaiah 58:1-14

shabbat-shalom

 

Shabbat (/ʃəˈbɑːt/; Hebrew: שַׁבָּת‎‎ [ʃa’bat], “rest” or “cessation”) or Shabbos ([‘ʃa.bəs], Yiddish: שבת‎) or the Sabbath is Judaism‘s day of rest and seventh day of the week, on which religious Jews and certain Christians (such as Seventh-day Adventists and Seventh Day Baptists) remember the Biblical creation of the heavens and the earth in six days and the Exodus of the Hebrews, and look forward to a future Messianic Age. Shabbat observance entails refraining from work activities, often with great rigor, and engaging in restful activities to honor the day. Judaism’s traditional position is that unbroken seventh-day Shabbat originated among the Jewish people, as their first and most sacred institution, though some suggest other origins. Variations upon Shabbat are widespread in Judaism and, with adaptations, throughout the Abrahamic and many other religions.

According to halakha (Jewish religious law), Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night.[1] Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive meals are eaten: in the evening, in the early afternoon, and late in the afternoon. The evening meal typically begins with a blessing called kiddush and another blessing recited over two loaves of challah. Shabbat is closed the following evening with a havdalah blessing. Shabbat is a festive day when Jews exercise their freedom from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and to spend time with family.

 

Biblical Sabbath is a weekly day of rest or time of worship. It is observed differently in Judaism and Christianity and informs a similar occasion in several other faiths. Though many viewpoints and definitions have arisen over the millennia, most originate in the same textual tradition of “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy“.

Observation and remembrance of Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments (the fourth in the original Jewish, the Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant traditions, the third in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions), sometimes referred to individually as the Sabbath Commandment. Most people who observe Biblical Sabbath regard it as having been instituted as a perpetual covenant for the people of Israel (Ex. 31:13-17, Ex. 23:12, Deut. 5:13-14), a rule that also applies to proselytes, and a sign respecting two events: the seventh day, during which God rested after having completed Creation in six days (Gen. 2:2-3, Ex. 20:8-11), and God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt (Deut. 5:12-15).

 

Come… and rest a while.

Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.
Mark 6:30-32 NKJV
http://bible.com/114/mrk.6.30-32.NKJV

These few verses are encouraging when we find ourselves overwhelmed by the demands of the world – but seeing them in the greater passage of the whole chapter reminds me that there is little time for rest and that Christ will provide the strength, He will be the source of our strength to continue in the work that He has in store for us. It reminds me that we can find comfort in our trials by opening our eyes to the circumstances of others and comforting them.

The beattitudes in Matthew 5 tell us the recipe for receiving the “for they shall” by being “those who”. Verse after verse, we are reminded to look out upon those around us and offer them what they need – even before we realize the treasures of doing so. These verses are asking us to “just trust me I’m the Lord, I know a better way than yours”.

If you’ve ever been mourning and fretting and concerned over your own troubles – can’t you look out onto those around you and find someone else that is greatly troubled and hurting? And when you do something to help them, or when you just mourn along with them, doesn’t it give you a new perspective of freedom from the chains that were binding you? Doesn’t it open your eyes?

It’s only when we bottle it up inside and keep it to ourselves, when we cling to it that we become imprisoned by it. Let it go by letting others in to help you – bless them with the opportunity to listen and to stand with you. And look for others in need and stand along with them. It is hard to be tired and sad when there is work to be done helping others.

Yes, this is the way of Christ – not religious practice once in a while – but a life lived following His example step by step, day by day. And this is the abundant life with blessings poured out onto those you serve and love – and onto your own life as your purpose becomes about more than self.

Long term strategy

But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.
Luke 5:16 NLT
http://bible.com/116/luk.5.16.NLT

When was the last time that I withdrew from the world? Not just rising up early to pray before the distractions of the day arrive,  but truly withdrawing from the world,  going out into the wilderness to spend a day alone with the Lord.

Yes,  I like doing this occasionally – a retreat from the world. And many times it is just me going out by myself, and other times it is with friends – but the focus is to step away from the hustle and bustle of the world and get things back into an eternal perspective,  back into a Kingdom mindset.

Am I focused on the little things,  worrying about the details that really don’t matter in the end? Or am I resting upon the one thing that does matter eternally,  my relationship with God – lived out as my faith,  my discipleship, my example to others of not being a stumbling block.

Sometimes a strategic retreat is necessary for the battle to be won. Sometimes we must lure the enemy into the valley,  into the wilderness with us, so that the enemies of God can be struck down mightily by the hand of God, not just fought by the sword.

The valley of death is not for our end and destruction when we walk through it,  for we are eternal children of the Most High. He walks the valley with us and leads us through to the green pastures and living waters on the other side,  friend. Don’t fear the valley,  don’t fear the trials – His blessings are on the other side,  friends. And those eternal blessings far outshine even our wildest imagination.

Is it time for a strategic retreat from the world? Is it time to lay down the distractions and temptations and pleasures and comforts of this world and step out into the wilderness,  trusting only in the Lord and seeking Him more earnestly?