We are living 24/7 and most of that life, it seems, is lived on the surface. I found an interesting statistic the other day: “Overall, US Internet users spend an average of 13 hours online each week, browsing 99 domaines and 3,123 web pages. The time spent on an individual website, however, is just fifty-six seconds.” In short, the river of information we see is a mile wide and a quarter of an inch deep. We live life in the fast lane but see little depth as we speed through the day, the week, the month, and then wonder where the time went. Our internet use is simply an indication of how we are living life in general.
But, we were created in God’s image and God rested on the seventh day. Something very important about the character and nature of God is revealed on the seventh day of creation: God stops. Stopping is a problem for humans. We get a comfortable house, and then we want to fix things up so the house is better, bigger, more comfortable. We get enough to eat, and then we want more. The end result of never being satisfied is that we end up on the move 24/7 and live a very shallow, often unexamined life.
Think about it, God did not need to rest after creating the universe because He was tired. He rests because He is holy. And everything that God does is holy. God rests. God is holy. Therefore, rest is holy. It’s simple math. Rest shows us who God is. He has restraint. Restraint is refraining from doing everything that one has the power to do. We must never mistake God’s restraint for weakness. The opposite is true. God shows restraint; therefore, restraint is holy.
After its introduction at the start of Genesis (the creation account), Sabbath (the rest) doesn’t show up in the Bible again until Exodus 16. Not one word about it through all the generations of begetting that started with Eve. No mention of it when the Flood comes, when God scatters the people of Babel, or when Abraham and Isaac make the most awkward ride home in history. Not so much as a ‘Sabbath shalom’ when Joseph goes from riches to rags to riches. Four hundred years pass between the close of Genesis and the start of Exodus with nary a peep about anything – including the Sabbath rest.
When Exodus comes, four centuries have gone without a sign from God. The Hebrew people have gone from honoured visitors in Egypt to slaves building warehouses for Pharaoh. When they complain, their work gets harder. The meaning of their lives is bricks, bricks, bricks – ten days a week. You see, the ancient Egyptian year was divided into three seasons with a three-week month and a ten-day week. Then a hero comes on the scene: Moses.
God hears the cries of His people, and the battle for the Hebrews is on. Guess who wins? This is one of the pivotal moments in all of history, when God brings His people out of Egypt.
God had much to teach His people. So, He wanted to spend some uninterrupted time with them. Thus the wilderness wandering. It’s an eight hour drive from Cairo to Jerusalem. It takes a week by donkey, and you can walk it in less than a month. But on the occasion of emancipating His people, God made a slight detour. He took them for a 14,600-day ride in the country. I mean, what better time to educate the human race about rest than after twenty generations of slavery? What better way to teach dependance than to go to a place with no food or water? What better time to learn monotheism after living in a culture where you can have as many gods as you want – just cast them in a kiln? What better way to demonstrate the illusion of Pharaoh’s immortality than to make his body disappear in the sea?
For forty years, God feeds the people every meal, shades them during the day, and guides them like a GPS. A few months into the trip, the tribes of Israel pull up to the base of Mount Sinai, and Moses climbs up to have a few words with the Maker of the universe. During this epic journey, God gives the Hebrews a total of 613 laws. But here at Mount Sinai, God personally pens the Top Ten.
If the Ten Commandments are written on apple pie and you get to choose which slice to have based upon size, choose the fourth. You will get more than a third of the pie put on your plate. Here is the fourth commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day (God knew that we would forget – this is the only command that starts with ‘remember’) to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, 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 day and made it holy.”
Because we ignore the need for this rest and thus live contrary to the way we were created to live (and in disobedience to our Creator God) we live a life that is a mile wide and an eighth of an inch deep – lacking meaning and purpose. We are simply part of the rat race. It may be time to rethink the way we are living and make some needed course adjustments admitting that God knew what He was doing when He created us; admitting that we honestly do need a day of rest (a Sabbath) and then figuring out how to obtain that goal.