Friday, September 18, 2015

A Time For Rest

The winter day was cold, and even though it was freezing outside, a crowd was gathering. You could feel the anticipation in the air.  A young man named Louis was standing in the crowd.   He was so excited that he could hardly contain himself. He thought that he just might witness history in the making.

The newspapers had been speculating about the event. They questioned whether a man could really go that fast on land and survive.  They wondered if the vehicle could really go that fast without falling to pieces. Everybody seemed to have an opinion; engineers, scientists, doctors, and the man in the street.  Today was the day that the questions would all be answered.  Louis was excited that he was going to see it.

A gasp rose from the crowd when the machine was introduced. Louis had never seen such an incredible machine. It looked like it was from the future. With admiration mixed with fear, he watched the driver, get into the machine. Louis felt the ground shake when the engine in the machine roared to life.  He couldn’t believe what he was witnessing.  Soon the machine took off accelerating to an unbelievable speed.  Louis and everyone else who was watching were amazed by how fast the machine went.

When the demonstration was over, both the machine and the driver were fine. When the news was announced that a new world’s speed record had been set, a loud cheer went up from the crowd.

The machine, back in 1898, had just reached the speed of 39 miles an hour. Wow!  That doesn’t seem very impressive today.  If somebody ahead of us on the highway is creeping along at 39 miles per hour, well, we’re ready to pitch a fit and just scream, “Let’s go, come on! I don’t have all day.”

But back in 1898, the world was amazed when somebody went 39 miles per hour. Can you imagine what Louis and everyone else who witnessed a car reach the unheard of speed of 39 miles per hour would think of the latest record for land speed, set by a jet-powered car screamed across the Black Rock Desert in Nevada at more than 763 miles per hour.  And of course, it’s only a matter of time before someone will break that record.

In this modern world, no matter how fast we get, no matter how efficient we become, it’s just never enough. There’s just no question about it, we’re doing things faster and faster and faster, at speeds our ancestors couldn’t even imagine. In the 19th century if you wanted to get a message across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to London, it would take weeks at best. But today you can push a few buttons, and in seconds you’ll be talking to someone across the Atlantic.

Even though we’re moving at speeds our ancestors would have thought were miraculous, even supernatural, most people still complain about the same thing. No matter what we do or how fast we do it, the complaint is always the same. We just don’t have enough time.

That’s actually a problem God anticipated. Thousands of years ago, God gave us a commandment specifically created to protect us from the tyranny of time. At the very beginning of our human history, the Lord carved out a refuge called the Sabbath. If you study the fourth commandment, you’ll find it comes to us right from the opening chapters of the Bible, right in the story of Creation.

Let’s go back to the very beginning, right after God created the world. The Bible says in Genesis 2:1-3, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Notice the similarity found in the fourth commandment; Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do not work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Now, I want you to notice how this commandment is directly linked to the original six-day creation story from the book of Genesis. God tells us to rest because he sanctified and made holy the Sabbath day, almost the exact wording used back in Genesis. And that’s why God says; “Remember the Sabbath,” partially because it’s something that already existed. But I’m guessing it’s also the only commandment that starts with the word “remember,” because it’s just about the easiest one for us to forget. When my wife tells me to remember to take out the trash, or says, “Richie, remember to bring something home from work,” it’s because she knows I’m probably going to forget. And I suspect it might be the same way with the fourth commandment.

Here’s what I want you to really think about. There’s a reason for the fourth commandment. If you study the other nine, you quickly discover that they’re all really good for us, and the same thing is true with number four. This commandment is a critical answer to the tyranny of time. No matter how fast we move, no matter how much faster our computers go, no matter how much faster our cells phones can connect us to the world, no matter how much faster we can eat our meals, we just never seem to have enough time. But then you open the Bible to the Ten Commandments and you find God asking us to rest.

Shaun Boonstra, of The Voice of Prophecy, says that, “to devote one-seventh of our lives to rest is just as much a commandment of God as the prohibitions against murder, adultery or stealing”.  With the Sabbath, God is giving us a special place in time, a sacred place, where the things of this world—our job, the bills, the chores—are not allowed to intrude, because this is sacred and holy time. The Sabbath is good news because it gives you this block of time that can be dedicated in a special way to God, and to the people you love.

I ask you today, is the Sabbath a day of rest for you?  That is what God designed it to be.  He was afraid you would forget so he said remember the Sabbath day. Remember that he wants to spend time with you. Remember that he wants you to spend time with your family. Remember that he wants you to rest.  To rest from your work and your worries.  Hebrews 4:9-11 says, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Anyone who enters God’s rest will rest from his work as God did.  So let us do our best to enter that rest”.

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