The Sabbath, it would seem, does not fit into our modern mindset. It seems to fall under the category of archaic absurdity.
In a modern world where time is money, businesses operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, personal worth is defined as net or gross, happiness is bought and sold in the form of pills, worship is a phenomenon studied in anthropology classes, and the concept of taking a Sabbath rest is foreign.
The Sabbath, instituted at Creation and carefully preserved over six thousand years through the Jewish faith, has all but died out in our modern society. Is it possible to get back to the original beauty of the Sabbath? Does it even fit into our modern world?
The Sabbath has long been associated with legalism and the stern observance of archaic laws. Modern Christians discredit the idea of one day being holy over another. People brush aside the idea of taking an entire day for God, not just an hour or so to go to church. In our money- and work-driven society, the Sabbath seems to be more of an inconvenience than anything else. A morning at church seems ample when we compare it to everything we need to keep up with.
We, as modern people, have several issues with the Sabbath. The first is the length of it. Twenty-four hours just seems absurd in this day of 22-minute sitcoms and five-minute news breaks. Too much can happen in twenty-four hours! People need to reach you! Your boss might need you to drop in! Deals can fall apart! Sales can be lost! When your time off is limited, shopping time, precious errand-running minutes, mustn’t be lost! Life is way too full of exclamation marks!
The second issue is that of boredom. What on earth are we supposed to do with twenty-four solid hours with no TV, no work, no shopping, no worry? About three hours of that is used up in church. But then what? What are we supposed to do with ourselves? We are programmed to expect flashing colors, 22-minute storylines and fast-paced commercials. We expect constant entertainment. We expect to be entertained every waking hour. The thought of twenty-four hours with none of the pulsing stimulus is daunting.
The third issue we take is that of authority. We’ve never liked authority. We don’t like it now. Someone tells us we have to do something, and it puts a sour taste in our mouths. We have quite enough of that, thank you! All day long at work our boss is giving us instructions and expectations. The government has its own mandates about taxes and other such legalities. While driving we must follow the rules, obviously, but speed limits can grate on our last nerve. So can speeding tickets! Everywhere we turn in life, someone is telling us what to do. On our weekends, can’t we just be left alone? Can’t we just relax and do what we please for a change? The last thing we want to do is conform to another set of rules for a full twenty-four hours!
The Sabbath, it would seem, does not fit into our modern mindset. It seems to fall under the category of archaic absurdity along with horse-drawn carriages and corsets— somewhat pretty, quaint for a tourist, and entirely impractical and outdated. It is all too easy to rationalize our way out of it and move on. But are we missing something in our hurry to swipe the Sabbath aside?
When we take a closer look at the Sabbath—a closer, quieter look at the day that
God made holy, we get a much different view. The Sabbath becomes something
beautiful, something to be envied! Yes, it is ancient, established over six thousand years ago. The first record we have of it is at the creation of our world, but considering that it will continue in heaven, according to Isaiah 66:23, it stands to reason that it will exist out into the stretches of eternity. Something that old, begun by God Himself, must have some wisdom and value. When we begin to glimpse that value, we realize that the way we’ve always seen it has missed the essence of the Sabbath entirely.
In “A Palace in Time,” we’ll look even deeper.*