Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 5:12-14
The first part of the fourth commandment calls for ceasing labor one day in seven. On the one hand, this was an incomparable gift to the people of Israel. No other ancient people had the privilege of resting one day in seven. On the other hand, it required an extraordinary trust in God’s provision. Six days of work had to be enough to plant crops, gather the harvest, carry water, spin cloth, and draw sustenance from creation. While Israel rested one day every week, the encircling nations continued to forge swords, feather arrows, and train soldiers. Israel had to trust God not to let a day of rest lead to economic and military catastrophe.
We face the same issue of trust in God’s provision today. If we heed God’s commandment to observe God’s own cycle of work and rest, will we be able to compete in the modern economy? Can we take time to worship God, to pray, and to gather with others for study and encouragement? And if we do, will it make us more or less productive overall? The fourth commandment does not explain how God will make it all work out for us. It simply tells us to rest one day every seven.
Not only must you rest, those who work for you must be given rest. It does not matter what religion they follow or what they may choose to do with the time. They are workers, and God directs us to provide rest for those who work. We may be accustomed to thinking about keeping the Sabbath in order to rest ourselves, but how much thought do we give to rest for those who work to serve us? We have choices as consumers and (in some cases) as employers that affect the hours and conditions of other people’s rest and work.
How can you rest? How can you help others rest?
Prayer: Lord, even you rested. Guide me to healthy, God-honoring rhythms of rest and work in my daily life. Show me how to encourage those who work with me and/or for me to rest as well. Amen.
For Further Exploration: Read “Observe the Sabbath Day and Keep It Holy” (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12) from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary.
Author: Theology of Work Project
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