Wednesday, July 09, 2014

No Seven Day Operations (Part Two) -- Exodus 20:10b

in it (the Sabbath of the Lord your God – from the first part of the verse) you shall not do any work, you or our son or your daughter, your male servant or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.”
Above we dealt with what this verse actually says.  Now we ask ourselves some “but what about” or “but what if” questions related to doing various work on the Sabbath:
If we keep the Sabbath, can we cause others to work on the Sabbath?  A perfect example of such a situation would be to own a restaurant that you close on the Sabbath, but going out to eat in someone else’s establishment after church on Sundays.  A question closely related to that is “Whose Sabbath are we concerned about? Is it our Sabbath, or that of the person who is working? Perhaps his/her Sabbath is on a different day of the week.”  And still another is, “Is it okay to expect non-Christians to work on our Sabbath or not to have a Sabbath at all?”  The more we think about this the more complex it becomes.  So each one of us has to answer all those questions for themselves.
If I go into the neighborhood restaurant after church on Sunday and I see young Billy, a youth volunteer leader at my church, waiting on tables, am I and others that frequent the place on Sundays causing him, albeit indirectly, to break the commandment?  And is that the same as going into my favorite Jewish delicatessen for lunch after church where all the staff are Jewish who had their Sabbath the day before?  At face value, clearly the latter situation is preferred over the former.  But when we look closer at the former situation of young Billy, we may find there are extenuating circumstances – such as this is the only job he could get to help his single mother feed and take care of him and his three younger siblings.  “But Billy should be praying for another job.” “But this is the job that God has given Him for now.”  “Are you sure it was God?”  And so on.  There is no end to the reasoning or ridiculous arguing that one can apply in defending one position versus another.  So, clearly that is not the approach to take here.
What if our maid, or cook, or gardener, or chauffeur is not a Christian; is it okay to use their services on our Sabbath?  First of all let me make it clear that I have never had a maid, cook, gardener, or chauffeur work for my family or me and I do not suppose that the majority of us have, but the question is still a relevant one.  Several considerations come to mind here.  First, our goal should be to win these people that God has put in our households to Him.  With that in mind, we need to be a living example of all that Christ is for them.  Second, we as a family would need to determine what we expect to be done on our Sabbath and what we expect to only be done on other days.  That would take care of the tasks of say a maid or a gardener.   What about the cook for we need to eat and the chauffeur as we need to get to church?  Let us deal with the cook first assuming that while much could be prepared on other days for us to eat on the Sabbath, some kitchen work still has to be done on the Sabbath.  I can only share what I hope my family and I would do had we ever been in a position to have a cook.  First, I would have our family members (including me if they were willing to have me) help the cook with his/her duties.  Secondly, I would make sure that at least on those special days of Sabbath (if not every day) the cook would be sitting down at the table with us, as one of us.
As for the chauffeur, I would give him (or her) the day off and have us drive ourselves to our Sabbath destinations.  If we were not able to drive for one reason or another, we would invite the chauffeur to take us (being considerate of his/her own family needs) and when he/she drove, we would sit up front with them – as equals not as their bosses, reading the paper in the back.  But again, these decisions cannot be made with a cookie-cutter solution template.  The answers to these type of questions must lie somewhere else.
What about those who work in the emergency services sectors such as police, firefighters, ambulance and other EMT’s, medical workers in hospitals?  The simple answer to that is another question, “Would I expect to be rescued or physically saved on a Sabbath?”  And the answer is definitely “yes”.  Jesus Himself made reference to that when He was challenged about His disciples working on the Sabbath – in fact, He gave as the example, not the rescue of a human being, but the rescue of one’s oxen.  How much more important it is to do work on the Sabbath that saves a human life.
When it comes to those who work on restoring utilities, I prefer to think that where the restoration of the utilities means the difference between life and death of anyone, then it should be treated as an emergency service.  On the other hand, the loss of electricity that prevents me from watching television can wait.
Did God intend for all of us to have the same Sabbath?  I cannot speak for God.  What we do know is that He gave His people the fourth commandment that involved a single Sabbath.  Ideally the entire Judaic and later the entire Christian-Judaic world should or could have had the same Sabbath.  Unfortunately, that was not what happened.  And then even some of so-called Christendom became divided on which day was the appropriate Sabbath with Seventh-Day Adventists, for example, opting for Saturday.  What we do know is that God wants us to “keep the Sabbath” and to keep it “holy” for it is His.
What then is the key to how we deal with our Sabbath?  As we can see from all the possible arguments for and against how or by whom the Sabbath is to be kept that we have tried to fairly present above, the issue is too complex for anyone to say you can or cannot do such and such on the Sabbath.  What matters is that each one of us deals with this issue individually.  I live with my wife, my daughter, her husband, and their three children.  I can only deal with the Sabbath for me.  What will I do or not do on the Sabbath given my understanding of what the Word says and how I believe the Spirit is challenging me personally with respect to that.  I can try to influence my spouse and perhaps model my behavior for my children and grandchildren.  But I cannot impose my ways on them.  I am sure the same is true of each one reading this.
My goal in sharing the above with you remains one of having you personally consider your Sabbath, what you do and what you do not do now, and whether or not any revisions may be in order.  I pray God will help us all see that keeping the Sabbath holy and His is indeed very important to Him.  I pray He will show us how best to do that.  How we deal with the Sabbath is an indication of our love for Him and our recognition of Who He is and what He has done for us.  I leave you with this modern Hebrew salutation – “Shabbat shalom”  -- which being translated means, “may you have a Sabbath of peace”.

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