God’s Road Signs – Pt. 1
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. — Exodus 20:8-11
We hardly give them a moment’s thought, but road signs influence all our daily lives. “Road Closed” dictates our routes. “Speed Limit” determines our pace. “Watch for…” ensures our safety. These little metal markers dot our days as constant reminders of how to move through our world at the safest pace and in the healthiest ways. They teach us how to cooperate with others. They remind us that we are not the center of the universe and we do not own the road. They warn us about traveling too fast through our days; we not only endanger ourselves, but others as well.
Many, many years ago, as I was translating and working my way through the book of Exodus, it occurred to me that the law of the Sabbath functioned like a road sign for life. God gave Israel the Sabbath, not for ritualistic purposes, but for the what the Sabbath would mean in the lives of people if they remembered to live by it. Within the Sabbath-structured life is blessing and rest.
Each week as we “drive” through our days, we come to the road signs of the Sabbath telling us to slow, to stop, to yield, and to detour. In abiding by their wisdom, we move through our days at the safest pace and in the healthiest way. God gave Israel the Sabbath so they would know how to structure their time and their lives. For them, Friday evening to Saturday evening signaled a time to change pace and switch lanes. There was no alternative route so you could avoid the slower pace; every week had a Friday evening and so every week had a “Sabbath Ahead” road sign.
For many Christians, Sunday is our Sabbath road sign. Remember, the first generation of disciples began to worship on Sunday in honor of the resurrection and in light of the freedom of the Gospel. They New Testament writers expounded on the Mosaic law, enlightening Christ-followers that what is most important in the Sabbath command is not which day is set apart, but a day is set apart for rest, worship, and doing good for the world. And while our Sunday worship is not “keeping the Sabbath” specifically, we should allow the principle and wisdom of the Sabbath to shape and influence how we live.
As we prepare for in-person worship on May 31, I thought it would be beneficial to spend some days reflecting on what it means to “Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.” Each day this week, I will share a different aspect of the Sabbath-structured life and why God taught us to build our lives according to this principle. I hope you join me on this journey.