A Thought on the Sabbath

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.

  • Exodus 35:2

“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work—whether native-born or a foreigner residing among you—because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a day of sabbath rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance. The priest who is anointed and ordained to succeed his father as high priest is to make atonement. He is to put on the sacred linen garments and make atonement for the Most Holy Place, for the tent of meeting and the altar, and for the priests and all the members of the community.

  • Leviticus 16:29-33

In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the Lord. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the Lord. Then he showed them the king’s son. He commanded them, saying, “This is what you are to do: You who are in the three companies that are going on duty on the Sabbath—a third of you guarding the royal palace, a third at the Sur Gate, and a third at the gate behind the guard, who take turns guarding the temple—and you who are in the other two companies that normally go off Sabbath duty are all to guard the temple for the king. Station yourselves around the king, each of you with weapon in hand. Anyone who approaches your ranks is to be put to death. Stay close to the king wherever he goes.”

  • 2 Kings 11:4-8

In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”

  • Nehemiah 13:15-18

The first two Scriptures talk of the law to not do work on the Sabbath, punishable by death, any Sabbath and the Day of Atonement.  Then the third Scripture talks about how God commanded the high priest to anoint Joash, at the age of seven, to be king of Judah and depose Queen Athaliah (daughter of Ahab) and do so on the Sabbath.  And the last Scripture recounts Nehemiah talking about all the issues about work being done on the Sabbath and if the Jews were to survive after returning to the Promised Land, they needed to clean up their act.

That gets me to thinking about all the work that I have done on Sunday.  For about twenty years, Sunday was travel day.  I might not go to a field site for a couple of months, maybe more, but I would travel Saturday and Sunday, depending on the distance, and then Sunday afternoon I would work with my partner to erect the demonstration equipment and test it before we left the job site.  The contract was to start class at, say, 7:00am, Monday morning.  Only once did a steel mill say that we were not allowed onto the plant site on Sunday.  We had to arrive at 4:00am on Monday morning.  If anything failed to work right, we would have had no cushion of time to get it fixed.

So, Sundays were not just travel days, but workdays when in the field.  In my career, I have worked a multitude of Sundays on shift work.

I should probably need to be put to death many times over.

But how can we be in a state of worship while working?  Sure, pastors can do that.  I feel that about my writing, but we can do whatever we do to the glory of God, all seven days of the week.  Sometimes, we have no control over our schedule and it may have been very hard to get the job that we have.  But we can think of ways to glorify God in what we do.

And in so doing, may we glorify God in everything we do.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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