And, here we are living in a month of Sundays, old fashioned Sundays. There was a time when stores weren’t open on Sunday. Oh, you could still find a pharmacy or groceries and hospitals were open but everything else was closed. Sports didn’t happen on Sunday. Sunday night football was just that Sunday night. Youth sports didn’t infringe on Sunday and businesses didn’t dream of asking you to work on Sunday. Sunday was the quiet family day, the day of rest for everyone. There was a rhythm to it like the exhale to go with an inhale.
When I consider all that has been taken away, I keep coming back to what scripture says about having a Sabbath day of rest. It is in fact the only commandment in the list of ten, needing a paragraph of explanation. I include it here with spacing to highlight the features:
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy – Six days you shall labor and do all your work – but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord our God – On it you shall not do any work – You or your son or your daughter, your male servant or your female servant or you livestock (even the animals get a rest) or the sojourner who is within your gates. – For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. — Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
So, why the bit about creation in the midst of this commandment? I think God is trying to tell us something. A Sabbath is part of the design! The earth and all her inhabitants were designed to rest one day a week. It is like the exhale. We can’t live without it.
“The Lord blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.” Given that, do you think we can undo His blessing and make it like any other day? I suppose the answer is the same as with the other commandments. They are earth’s user’s manual. We can break them for a while, but it never ends well.
So here we are living in a month of Sundays. The ancient Israelites ignored this commandment as well. So, what did God do?
In 2 Chronicles we learn the people of Israel were sent into exile for seventy years “until the land enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days it lay desolate, it kept Sabbath, to fulfill the seventy years.”
Yep, God can count. There was a bank of unkept Sabbaths, pent up need for rest and instead of taking one day a week as God instructed —- they took seventy years in a row.
My friend, we are living a month (at least) of Sundays because we don’t take a Sabbath. Sabbath is not only a day of rest but a day of trust. In order to rest one day a week, we have to trust God to make us fruitful on the other six days. We have forgotten to trust, forgotten to cease our striving and in the modern vernacular, “give it a rest.”
So is it punishment? No, more of a gift. The One who created us and the land we inhabit knows what will happen without Sabbath. All of creation needs a rest every seven days. It is designed in. There is a large account of unmet Sundays. God is drawing against that account.
But what about church? Has that not also been taken away? Yes. There is also a message to the church in this. It is interesting to me that we can still do all things related to God. We can pray, sing, read scripture, give thanks. What we can’t do is socialize. Could it be there is a message in there? The vertical (God focused) parts of church are still available to us but all else has been stripped. Have we been placing the second commandment of loving each other in front of loving God, the first and greatest commandment? Have we forgotten the primary reason for every “sanctuary” on earth. Have we become too horizontal in our ever increasing plethora of programs? Are they even about God? Or have they become about our needs? Have we made our churches more like social gatherings than Holy places of worship?
God has stripped away all but the sacred. He is redeeming the days he blessed and made holy.
Never in a Month of Sundays would I have imagined —- and yet, here we are in a month of Sundays.
Enter into the rest and trust the Lord of the Sabbath.