Deuteronomy 6:4-9. These verses in our Old Testament also constitute the Jewish Shema. A mantra prayed multiple times a day.
Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God. Yahweh is one. You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. These words, which I command you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates. (WEB)
It calls believers to remember we have one God. We are to love Him with all of ourselves.
God graciously established ways for the nation of Israel to saturate themselves with these truths.
With morning and evening prayers. Prayer shawls to cover their heads during private prayer. The Shema was placed in a mezuzah, a small container holding parchment paper, on the doorpost of their homes.
They had 613 commandments to follow. Their calendar year revolved around religious feasts and festivals. God encouraged them to marry those of like faith. When things were ideal, the Jewish people lived in community with one another and their God.
However, they thought about His laws so much they became a stumbling block. Somewhere along the way, God’s people forgot part of loving the Lord meant having a relationship with Him. Reminders God put in place became the focus.
Were the rules being followed? Which rabbi should we listen to in administering the rules?
Rules, rules, rules.
Then God sent Jesus. And He said enough. He fulfilled the law so we could get back our relationship with God.
And Jesus taught, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Today, we run the race before us with all the freedom we find in Christ. And you know what? Sometimes with all of that freedom, I forget to stop and take a breath. That the race set before us is a marathon, not a sprint. I go 100 miles a minute because - freedom.
I’m pretty sure that’s not God’s way either. We don’t follow the 613 rules found in the Old Testament. We do follow some of them because they are morally sound.
Take for example, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8-10a
Some days I realize I don’t remember the last time I took a break. I’ll force myself to take a deep breath and I think how good that felt. Just to breathe.
When is the last time you breathed? I don’t mean an intake of oxygen. Please continue to do that also. I mean sat back, took it all in and breathed.
I think God had this in mind when he encouraged us to observe a Sabbath. In Hebrew, an intermission. A day when we collectively take a breath.
It’s not about a bunch of rules. What church did you go to? Did you go to church? Did you eat out before or after the service? Did you watch a game? How long was your nap on the Sabbath?
Why did God say we needed to remember the Sabbath? To keep it holy. Holy - in Hebrew - to dedicate. The Sabbath belongs to Him.
Does your Sabbath have a different rhythm to it than the other six days of your week? Do you worship God in a church community? Take some time to talk about God and His Word?
Sabbath is for us, to remind us to breathe. To right our focus. But more. Our rest honors God. Further, it shows others traces of our faith. That in obedience to our Savior, we stop and say enough.
The Sabbath is one way each week we remember Him.
Are you tired? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Matthew 11:28 (Message)