Monday, February 13, 2012

Holy Ground

Thoughts on the Sabbath School lesson for 2.18.12

How many hours of sleep do you get on an average night?  Do you get the full eight, or do you feel lucky to get five?  How many hours a week do you work (for pay)? How many more do you work at home? Do you ever feel really rested? I heard someone remembering being young and hating being told to go to bed … and wishing that someone would order him to bed now that he’s grown. 

Do you think our tiredness is really about lack of sleep, though? Yes, I know, people who live in “First World” countries tend to be sleep deprived, but is that really the issue? Maybe partly, but I believe we’re talking more about rest than about actual sleep.

Do you know that there’s a store in the Mall of America where you can buy a nap? (Well, there was one in 2005, anyway.  Don’t know if it’s still there.) Really, in this store, for a mere 70 cents a minute, patrons can, well nap, obviously, but they can also choose to 
“Escape the pressures of the real world into the pleasures of an ideal one.… listen to music, put their feet up, watch the water trickling in the beautiful stone waterfall, … and just take an enjoyable escape from the fast-paced lifestyle."[1]
I’m not sure that if I were paying 70 cents a minute, I could get real relaxed, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, I’m thinking just getting more rest is really the solution either.  I believe that our Creator knew what our minds and bodies needed and He provided for those needs when He created Adam and Eve.

Think about this for a second:  Adam and Eve were less than 24 hours old when God made the first Sabbath. 
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3 NKJV
There was no stress in their lives, no sin, no weakness, absolutely no physical need for rest. God certainly didn’t need any rest. Could it be that even without sin, humans weren’t complete without time spent building a relationship with their Creator? Even in a perfect world where Adam and Eve could speak to God face to face anytime, they needed a day that was “set apart?”  I think so.

I believe that everything God does is for our good, and Sabbath is no different. God didn’t make any other day holy; He didn’t even name any of the other days. It’s interesting to me that so many people can blithely forget something that God, Himself told us to remember.
“‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. … For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’” Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV
When God blessed and made holy the Sabbath, He made it different from the other days.  I believe that if we are obedient, God will fill the Sabbath hours with an extra measure of His presence.  The Ark of the Covenant held the Mercy Seat that held the Shekinah Glory, the presence of the Lord.  It was set apart in the Most Holy Place of the earthly sanctuary.  The Burning Bush is another example of God making something holy because of His presence.  Remember what God said to Moses? 
“So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’“And he said, ‘Here I am.’“Then He said, ‘Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’”  Exodus 3:4-5
I believe that the Sabbath is Holy Ground.  And just like Moses sensed the holiness of the area around the burning bush, and the Israelites understood the sanctity of the earthly sanctuary, we should feel the specialness of the Sabbath hours.

One author describes how special the Sabbath felt to him when he was a child:  
“When my mother lit the Sabbath candles, I would feel, almost physically, the Sabbath coming in, being welcomed, descending like a soft mantle over the earth. I imagined, too, that this occurred all over the universe—the Sabbath descending on far-off star systems and galaxies, enfolding them all in the peace of God.”[2]
Isn’t that a beautiful way to think of the Sabbath hours?

“But,” you say, “Saturday doesn’t feel any different than any other day of the week to me.”  Well, maybe that’s because we’ve forgotten what it feels like to stand on Holy Ground.
“It [the Sabbath] belongs to Christ.... Since He made all things, He made the Sabbath. By Him it was set apart as a memorial of the work of creation. It points to Him as both the Creator and the Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things in heaven and in earth, and by whom all things hold together, is the head of the church, and that by His power we are reconciled to God. For, speaking of Israel, He said, ‘I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them’—make them holy. Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy. As a sign of His sanctifying power, the Sabbath is given to all who through Christ become a part of the Israel of God....           And every object in nature repeats His invitation, “‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ Matthew 11:28.”[3]
“All heaven is keeping the Sabbath, … On this day every energy of the soul should be awake, for are we not to meet with God and with Christ our Saviour? We may behold Him by faith. He is longing to refresh and bless every soul. …“The Sabbath is God’s time. He sanctified and hallowed the seventh day. He set it apart for man to keep as a day of worship.“We need to cherish and cultivate a spirit of true worship, a spirit of devotion upon the Lord’s holy, sanctified day. We should assemble together believing that we shall receive comfort and hope, light and peace from Jesus Christ.”[4]
Let’s do an experiment. Friday, as the sun goes down, whether we’ve been observing the Seventh Day Sabbath your whole life, have never observed it before or somewhere in between, let’s bow our heads and ask God to give us a sample of what He created Sabbath to be.  Then, let’s take our everyday complacent shoes off of our spiritual feet and experience true Sabbath Rest.

[2] Oliver Sacks, "Brilliant Light," New Yorker (12-20-99), p. 60
[3] E.G. White, The Faith I Live By, p. 33
[4] Ibid. p. 35

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