Saturday, 16 February 2013

4th Day of Lent - Sabbath Delight

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday...
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
    For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 58:9-14)

The Sabbath is here inextricably linked to social justice. Our fasting is pleasing to God if we do away with oppression; our Sabbath is pleasing to God if we use it to put the needs of others before our own. Here in Isaiah, God tells His people, "Don’t use my holy day for personal advantage." (Isaiah 58:13, The Message)
Isn't that what social justice is all about? Doing to others as we would have done to us; putting others first; sacrificing our time, money, comfort or safety to speak up for and protect those who are broken and unable to speak for themselves. 

Through history there have been different ideas about the Sabbath rest. At times it has been prescriptive, with so many activities forbidden. In the Middle Ages, it was forbidden to make love on the Lord's day! The Pharisees got angry with Jesus when He healed on the Sabbath. Nowadays, the shops are open; people are expected to work; we go shopping after church - if we even go to church instead of lying in until noon. The Sabbath has gone from being a burden to being just another day of the week, but God calls us to treat it as a delight and to make it an honourable day. A day when we take a break from business. Jesus said that, The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath." (Mark 2:27) Read the Gospels and learn from Jesus just how God wants us to treat the Sabbath. He treats it like every other day, but Jesus treats every day as the Sabbath, as honourable to the Lord. He healed, He taught, He had compassion. He did not serve His own interests, despite being master of the Sabbath (Mark 2:28).

No charity today. Merely a challenge for this weekend:

"Spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed." (Isaiah 58:10)

No comments:

Post a Comment