Exodus 31: 14-15 – Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
Colossians 2: 16-17 – Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
In my previous article, I have talked about types of work that are respectable and despicable. Work is related to 4th commandment of Torah, which commands us to work for 6 days and have our rest on Sabbath. This time, I will talk about opposite of work which is resting.
Resting to most people in Singapore (and most people in first world countries) has become luxurious and even carrying negative meaning especially among Asian students in universities. In college or office, when people asked me what do I usually do during weekend, I usually answer them in term of doing some activities. For example, my typical answer is usually going to church, reading some books, doing exercise outside, walking around city area, visiting friends or relatives, and so on. The only thing that probably never come out in my answer is resting and sleeping.
It seems that for urban people, doing activities is equal to virtue. Resting is associated with idleness and laziness although it is not necessarily so. But, we know from Genesis that even God rested after He created the universe (Genesis 2: 2-3). In Old Testament, Sabbath become the day of rest in which any type of work was disallowed (Exodus 31: 14-15). There was one instance a person violated this command by collecting firewood and it was punished by stoning (Numbers 15: 32-36).
Wait a minute, you may ask. Why such a cruel punishment just for collecting firewood? Frankly, the first time I read this, I also thought it is a cruel punishment. However, after seeing the effect for neglecting this law in modern economy, I began to be more sympathetic why breaking Sabbath was punished with such ruthless manners.
In my previous post, I have talked about job classification based on its contribution to society. I mentioned that the most important jobs in this society are producers. However, due to their economic condition, most of them usually don’t have mean of productions (such as farm, ranch, workshop, factories, and so on).
Because of human greed and increased living standard, these producers were exploited to work by business owners and cannot have rest even on Sabbath day. Modern people used public facility such as electricity, plumbing, telephone, internet, transport and so on for their convenience and by doing so, they are indirectly oppressing these producers (workers) so that they cannot even have rest on Sabbath. As the result, the society become unjust, with rich people enjoy rest during Sabbath but these workers, the very people that are supposed to deserve rest, cannot have rest.
Another question that is often asked is whether Christians should observe this rule for now? It seems to me is quite clear that apostle Paul thought that observing Sabbath is not compulsory (Colossians 2: 16-17) . In the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15: 1-21), it was decided that gentile Christians were not required to observe Torah. However, in my personal view, although observing Sabbath is not compulsory, it is better for us to observe for above mentioned reasons.
So, what’s the application now? Simple. Do less commercial entertainment during Sabbath. Instead of dining outside, we can try to cook ourselves (Unfortunately, I am still dining outside even during Sabbath…), if possible don’t travel very far because you will need public transport. And also, I can refrain to write articles to my blog on Sabbath.
I wish no overtime for all people that read this blog.