The Ten Commandments seem to pop up in the culture every now and then. There have been legal and religious fights over putting them on display in a courthouse or on the lawn in front of the court or in schools or, well, whatever. It all gets rather boring. I’ve wondered, in the midst of all the arguments, does anyone actually read the Ten Commandments? It is easier to have a fight about them than it is to study and learn from them. Take a moment to read them (Exodus 20:1-17 or Deuteronomy 5:4-21) and you will notice that the big sins get very little attention: “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal.” Pretty clear, not much commentary needed.
However, the commandment on rest takes four verses to explain. “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work – you, your son, or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.”
We are not going to become legalistic in our understanding of this text but there is something fundamentally important to understand: when your mind, body and soul are tired, you need rest. This commandment is God’s way of saying, “I know you can make a few more bucks working hard one more day a week but in the long run you are cheating yourself out of a life. And don’t think you can get your children or your employees to do this either. They need rest too!”
God’s message is pretty clear: “If all of creation held together on the day I rested then you can take a day too.” Why? Because rest is holy.
Find a moment, maybe even right now, and take a deep breath. Do it again. Do it one more time. There, do you see what it feels like to breathe deeply? Now, look at your schedule and find a day where you can do nothing all day but breathe. Block it out. Invite your spouse or your partner or a friend to join you in this day of nothing. Remember, when you do this, you’re taking a sabbath. That old word, from the Hebrew word shabat, means more than rest; it implies taking time to refocus, recharge, reenergize. When you do this you’re becoming holy.
Grace and peace to you,