Words from the Weary Wilderness - Lenten Journey Day 11
Day Eleven - Monday, March 14
We Must Not Work on the Sabbath
Read: Exodus 31:14-15 (See also Numbers 15:32-36)
14 You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall be put to death.
Penalty for Violating the Sabbath
32 When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses, Aaron, and to the whole congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.” 36 The whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Today’s Word from the Weary Wilderness: You shall keep the sabbath, because it is holy for you; everyone who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it shall be cut off from among the people. (Exodus 31:14)
Reflection: Why do you think that breaking the Sabbath is a capital offense, but our culture glorifies 24/7 living, and we praise those people who are busiest and most productive? We “humbly brag” every day about our productivity; yet, breaking the Sabbath is not only worthy of custody, it led to death for the man gathering sticks. I once had a parishioner take offense to me because I preached about keeping the Sabbath holy. She was a young mother, a business partner with her husband, and an active laborer on the family farm. She said “I don’t have time to rest, and everything I do is good.” I could not debate her on how good she was, but I did know that she needed to rest. God knows we need to rest, too. Human life cannot continue without rest. Likewise, godly life cannot continue without rest, too. When we fail to observe the Sabbath, we forget that God is God, and we are not. Exodus offers the mandate, and Numbers gives a practical example from wilderness life. Both result in death and being cut off from God and community, and we experience another example of an Old Testament scripture that many people consider irrelevant to their lives today.
Prayer: God of the Wilderness, we struggle with what to take most seriously in your Word, and what we can put aside as archaic and irrelevant. Loaning with interest and breaking the Sabbath help us “to get things done” in our world, but you call these acts unfaithful. Allow us to struggle with this a bit in our spirits, in our own post-modern wildernesses. Amen.
Blessings of Peace and Health,
Rev. Beverly B. Coppley
& Chief Missional Strategist