Sabbath & Mission Part II

disciples-eating-grainIt seems I may have been off base in this post when making the assertion that “The Sabbath was made for mission, not mission for the Sabbath.” It makes sense that a Sabbath rest would prepare us for upcoming or future mission.  But Heschel, in critiquing Aristotle  had this to say:

According to Aristotle, “we need relaxation, because we cannot work continuously.  Relaxation, then, is not an end” ; it is “for the sake of activity,” for the sake of gaining strength for new efforts.  To the biblical mind, however, labor is the means toward an end, and the Sabbath as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for forthcoming labor.  The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life.  Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.  “Last in creation, first in intention,” the Sabbath is “the end of the creation of heaven and earth.”  The Sabbath then, is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. ~ Heschel

In Discipleship Group last night, I asked the question: “Is the principle of a sabbath rest more for resting from previous work, or to prepare ourselves for a future work.  Most said the latter.  According to Heschel, we’d both be wrong.  What do you say? 

0 thoughts on “Sabbath & Mission Part II

  1. Rob Kampen says:

    I resisted posting to part 1, however this one spurs me to respond.
    When we look at the Genesis account we see God establishes the Sabbath – and we know God does not get tired or need a rest. He was establishing a precedent for mankind, made in His image.
    The Sabbath is about looking back and rejoicing, marvelling and celebrating the creative work that His image bearers have done. Remember, work and the Sabbath rest were established prior to the fall – they are not to be seen from our fallen state but rather as a core foundation of how God designed and created the world and mankind to be.
    God delights in mankind, before we were created and He didn’t have us, He decided to create beings with choice and carrying His image ( a huge topic in itself). When He was done, He established the Sabbath and said it was all good, and mankind in particular “very good”. His intent is to redeem His original designed purpose and the Bible unfolds this Divine plan from cover to cover.
    As the third commandment establishes the need to keep the Sabbath, this understanding is critical – yes as humans we do need rest, but the value system that this commandment exposes relates to commandments one and two.
    Very briefly:
    #1 establishes that the “I AM” is, and holds supreme authority, that He is infinitely worthy of worship.
    #2 establishes the value of mankind as His creation. He cares about every single one of us – only an infinite God has the capacity for this and He takes the value of each one (from the moment of conception) personally. Our identity is to be built upon this fact.
    #3 establishes that the work of our hands has value and is to be celebrated, and rewarded. All our work is to be considered as an act of worship towards our God. Hence the time to consider it, remember where it all came from, what makes it possible and what life is fundamentally all about.
    I have not done this justice, but I hope it spurs others to contribute towards the understanding that the Sabbath rest is a position from which we function, not a well earned rest after a tough week, nor the time to plan for the next – mission oriented or otherwise.
    thanks for reading….

  2. Rob Kampen says:

    oops, this is what comes from shooting from the hip.
    I forgot the “no graven images” and not taking the Lord’s name in vain. – the Sabbath day / rest is #4.
    I was thinking and writing from the perspective of Jesus and the two commands He used to encapsulate the entire 10.
    Please forgive my inaccuracy, but please do not miss the point – We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings, what we say and do has immeasurable value in His eyes – even though He does not need us to achieve His purposes, He has chosen to call us friends and family and allows, in fact constrains Himself, to working in and through us…… now that is worth some Sabbath contemplation.

  3. David Woods says:

    In the last post, you seemed to be discussing the NT interpretation of how it fits into our modern day lives. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in this one, it seems you are reverting back to the original intent. In it’s original intent, it seems that it was set aside as a day “unto the Lord” in order to commemorate the seventh day of rest God took after creating the world, sort of like the reason the feasts were established. Exodus 31:16-17

    It’s application to missions today then, could be very important, especially among the more illiterate peoples of the world, or those without access to the Bible. Let me explain. First, I’m not saying your people are illiterate, but some missionaries are going to encounter this.

    Among people who can’t read well, or those who have no Bible in their language, or those who’s pastor may have a Bible, but they don’t (all of which was the case with the ancient Israelis), it may prayerfully be important to establish a weekly physical day of remembrance unto the Lord so that the message doesn’t get lost throughout the years. The message of God as almighty creator dispels not only the notion of idol’s “work” in the lives of man, but also more naturalistic or evolutionary notions of the origin of the earth. It also shows that God cares about man, and is interested in his well being, among other things, I’m sure.

    Among people who have historically been known to come up with such explanations for the spiritually unexplainable, among those who can’t continually “feed themselves” with Scripture, and who have around them dissenters who would work to steal away the seed planted, the establishment of a weekly Sabbath unto the Lord, in remembrance of His creation of the world, may not be such a bad idea.

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