Category Archives: Sabbath
Composer Claude Debussy said, “Music is the space between the notes.” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart expanded the Debussy quote to, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” The idea they were both expressing is that to be appreciated anywhere near its highest form, beauty must be contrasted with emptiness. Even the world’s greatest pianist playing the most amazing symphony would produce nothing but cacophonous noise, if all the notes were played together. Arrange those same sounds with off notes, rests, syncopation, and silence; however, and what results is breathtakingly-beautiful music.
The space between notes allows them to resonate, reverberate, and reach their full measure of expression. Without this space – these rest periods – cacophony is assured. This same principle governs everything in Life: we tend to not appreciate the greatest things until they are taken away, or at least juxtaposed with something much less. Likewise, too much work without rest will wear us down, suppress our creativity, kill our joy, and create discordant, untidy, and frenzied lives. This is true even if we are working at something that benefits others, is worthy of our time and effort, and would otherwise produce abundance in our Lives. By inserting regular intervals of rest, though, we allow both the ‘notes’ and the ‘rest periods’ to become beautiful, harmonious, and productive.
Think of each minute you live as a note in the grand symphony of your life. When your life symphony is composed, you don’t want a score that jams in as many notes as possible. That only produces a discordant, jumbled mess. We desire our Life to be beautiful melodic symphony. We need only two things to make our Life music rather than noise: a composer who carefully chooses just enough notes to make a pleasurable and abundant melody, and our playing those notes and rests as composed.
The great symphonies such as Beethoven’s Ninth, Mozart’s Forty-First, or Rachmaninov’s Second are all breath-taking. Yet, none rival The Greatest Composer’s Fourth. While we have lost much of its melodic beauty by saddling it with the moniker “commandment,” God’s Fourth is every bit as breathtakingly beautiful when we play it as written for us. God composed the Sabbath symphony with the principles we have been discussing. The Greatest Composer did not want us to jam as much into every single measure of each day and burn out. He didn’t desire us to take on more duties than our schedules allow, and more worries than we can Handel. (apologies for the lame pun)
God’s Fourth guides us with a score that exercises musical self-discipline. He composed His Fourth Symphony not to burden us, but rather to make our lives melodic and meaningful. The Great Composer’s score asks us to play the Symphony of our Life by taking one day in every seven to rest, to help someone in need, to take a stroll in nature, to express our gratitude for all that is good, and to strengthen our closest relationships.
When we follow God’s score and reduce the background noise, chatter, and clutter from our lives for one day each week, we find that everything that has become routine and mundane – job, friends, hobbies, our commute, our routines, even our chores — all again regain their vibrant musical quality. The common-place is transformed by the Rest of the Sabbath into an extraordinary symphony.
Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27
God did not create us because He needed people to follow His rules. Humans were created first and God instituted the Symphony of the Sabbath so that humans could live melodic lives of harmony and beauty. Isn’t it time we returned to the wonderment and carefree life of children? Do you not yearn to go Bach to a simpler time when everything in Life was much easier to Handle? (two apologies…)
Rather than feeling our lives are “owed to jobs,” or “owed to our to-do lists,” or “owed to our credit cards,” isn’t it time we spend one day in seven resting, recharging, and returning to a life “Ode to Joy”?
To the Rest of your life,
As we discussed in yesterday’s post, 10 Ways That Christians are Often Deceived, God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. They are for the benefit of humans, alone. This post provides a practical case study of why that is so. Although we could evaluate any of the Ten to the same result, in this post we will analyze the Fourth Commandment, the Sabbath Commandment. It is quoted in the Bible at Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Jesus was speaking of this commandment when He said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” What did Jesus mean by the words recorded in Mark 2:27?
“The Sabbath Was Made for Man”
Genesis says God rested the seventh day from His creative works with regard to Planet Earth. It is clear, however, that God does not need rest. The Sabbath was designed solely for human well being, not God’s.
When humans observe the Sabbath as God intended, the Sabbath’s blessings include time to:
- Rest, refresh and recharge our minds and bodies; and
- Build, enjoy, and nurture relationships with our friends and God; and
- Enjoy and study the ways of nature, peace, Joy, Truth, Love, and the plan of salvation; and
- Focus on those whose life is difficult: widows, orphans, prisoners, the poor, etc. ; and
- Be grateful. Something modern science links very closely with our happiness (or lack thereof).
By taking a day off from our own work and worry, and instead focusing on helping and encouraging others – we celebrate the Sabbath, care for all human life, build and nourish friendships, and we make the “Greatest Commandment” worthy of that title. Just as the Tabernacle was a physical place for Israel to worship, God designed the Sabbath as a chronological place for every human to rest and recharge in preparation for another week.
God didn’t create us to boost His ego or because He needed some followers to observe His laws. He created laws to enhance our Lives and lead us to peace, Joy, Love and lives of fulfillment and abundance. Notice that humans were created before the Sabbath, and the Sabbath was appointed thereafter. The Sabbath was not initially created, and thereafter God created humans with reference to the Sabbath.
As Matthew Henry’s Commentary states, “The Sabbath is a sacred and Divine institution; a privilege and benefit, not a task and drudgery. God never designed it to be a burden to us, therefore we must not make it so ourselves. The Sabbath was instituted for the good of mankind, as living in society, having many wants and troubles, preparing for a state of happiness or misery. Man was not made for the Sabbath, as if his keeping it could be of service to God, nor was [man] commanded to keep its outward observances to his real hurt. Every observance respecting it is to be interpreted by the rule of mercy.” [2 Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary 23-28, emphasis added.]
Jesus point was that the Sabbath was made to serve people, instead of people being created to serve the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a servant, not a master. The Sabbath was to be a blessing, not a burden.
The Sabbath was implemented to give humans rest from their work and worries. Likewise, “The Lord of the Sabbath” came to Earth to give us rest from struggling to attain salvation by our own works. The sacrifice of “The Lord of the Sabbath” on a lonely hill on Calvary was enough. We can trust Jesus paid our price and stop “white-knuckling” all our behaviors. Jesus paid the price! We don’t need to try and ‘gain’ God’s sympathy and goodwill. Jesus died to give us a “Lifetime Sabbath.” We can confidently rest, refrain from worry, and Joyfully bask in His Love, mercy, and grace – forever! And when we decide to do this, we suddenly find we are much more able to share peace, Joy, Truth, and Love with everyone we meet.
Try observing the Commandments instead of merely ‘following’ them. This one change has the power to revolutionize your relationship with God.
Back to Part One: “10 WAYS THAT CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN DECEIVED”
Continue to Part Three: “GOD’S LAWS ARE DESIGNED SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF HUMANS”
[Make Sabbath and Life more meaningful by “CREATING A SYMPHONY OF ABUNDANCE IN YOUR LIFE”]