May 19, 2017
READ: Deuteronomy 5:12-15
On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you (v.14).
One morning, I was surprised to see my postman lugging his heavy bag. I asked him why he was delivering mail on Sunday, and he curtly responded with a single word: “Amazon.” The online retailer had started offering Sunday delivery, so it was no longer a day of rest for postal workers.
In Deuteronomy 5, God mandated that Israel observe the Sabbath with its rest requirements. Not just the men and women of Israel were to rest on Saturday—but their children, their servants and even their work animals (v.14). In Exodus 23:10-11, we see that the land itself was also supposed to enjoy a Sabbath rest every seven years.
There’s a very good reason for the all-encompassing nature of this command: if the people of Israel didn’t observe the Sabbath, then neither could their servants, the most vulnerable and likely overworked group. The foreigners of Israel, being of a lower social standing and with fewer resources, would also not be able to afford to stop working. That’s why God “commanded” all people to rest (Deuteronomy 5:15)—not to be domineering, but because each person’s Sabbath was interconnected with the wellbeing of others.
I often fail to recognise the interconnected nature of our lives, how my personal lack of rest can rob other people of their rest in turn. But as 1 Corinthians 12:12 tells us, believers in Jesus are one body, and what affects one part of the body affects the others. A manager might make a personal choice to never take a break at work, but the truth is that everyone around them is affected by that choice as well.
Regardless of the day, may we choose to regularly rest to honour God and bless those around us! (Deuteronomy 5:14).
365-day plan: Proverbs 4:1-27
Read Matthew 11:29 to be reminded that the most perfect rest we experience is the rest found in the presence of Jesus.
Have you ever had an experience where one person’s lack of rest affected your ability to rest? How might your lack of rest rob others of theirs?