Friday, September 27, 2019


Ask the average person, even the average Christian, about the Ten Commandments, and you're likely to hear a shortened version of them. Most of us can remember about half, maybe as few as three or as many as seven. Love God and have no other gods; honor your father and mother; don't kill, lie, or steal. Or covet. Let's see - that's seven. That about covers them, doesn't it? 

For many of us, the answer is yes. That's the heart of it. That's what God desires from us. 

But then look at Jeremiah 17, and we see something interesting. Jeremiah is talking about the prosperity of Jerusalem, and when the prophet talks about what it takes for Jerusalem to prosper, he raises only one of the commandments. And it's not even to love God and have no other gods. 

It's to keep the Sabbath.

Yes, that's one of the Ten Commandments. It's also the one we are most likely to forget about or to leave until last or to consider probably the least important out of all of them. Sabbath? Rest? It seems so antiquated, so outdated, so...impractical. In today's 24/7/365 society, to even think about Sabbath seems absurd. 

If we think about it at all, we think about it in very small terms. Like not eating meat on Fridays or turning off our phones for an hour of spiritual discipline time. We think about Sabbath the way we think about fasting, as some short duration of denying ourselves something in order to say that...what? to say that we did it? Because it sounds holy?

Truthfully, most of us even think that if we love God, honor our parents, and don't kill, lie, or steal...or covet...we've got it made. 

But the prosperity of Jerusalem depends upon how well God's people keep the Sabbath.

And it seems weird, right? Of all the things we could be doing to live "good" lives, this doesn't seem like it's that important. It doesn't seem like it should be the thing, but it is the thing. It's everything. 

Keeping the Sabbath is the only commandment that demonstrates that we trust God. It's the only one that shows that we believe He is caring for us, that He is the source of all things, that He is active and working in our world, that our God dwells among us. Only when we stop can we see what He's doing. It's not us; it's Him. At rest, we see that in a way that we never could at work. At rest, we see that in a way that we can't possibly see it if we're just "good." We can be good all day long and not actually believe in, not actually trust God one iota. 

But stop and rest, and we really put our faith on the line. We really show that we are who we say we are...because we've made room for God to be who He says He is. And for us to see it. 

Ask us, and we could probably name a few of the Ten Commandments. Maybe, though, we should start with this one: observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy. 

For when the Sabbath is holy, we see our holy God. The prosperity of Jerusalem, of God's people, depends upon it. 

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