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Isam Itson | Practically Holy | The Law of Moses part 2

by, Isam Itson III

God wanted his people, the children of Israel, to organize their lives around dependence upon him for the necessities of life rather than reliance upon themselves. So he issued the command, Everyone throughout the land of Israel, everyone stop working on the seventh day of every week. One day per week, every week, you don’t work and no one works for you. Israelites. Servants. Slaves. Day laborers. Foreigners and refugees. Beasts of burden. One day per week. Stop working. Rest and remember who God is and who you are to him.

There are two passages within the Law of Moses that record the command to observe the Sabbath. In Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the froeigner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Do no work on the Seventh day of the week. Remember: God is the Creator and Ruler of all Creation. Your God is your king who created you and provides for you. You owe your life to God. Your life is in God’s hands. God is the source and sustainer of your life. God is your protector and you provider. You work under the immediate covering of God’s supreme authority, almighty protection, and faithful provision. God’s faithful presence is the strength, security, and hope for your life and your future.

In Deuteronomy 5:12-15 ‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.’ Do no work on the Seventh day of the week. Remember: You were slaves in Egypt. God delivered you from slavery and brought you into this new land. You owe your present prosperity to God’s grace and faithfulness.You know what it is like to be disrespected and dishonored. Remember God’s value for everyone’s life and God’s faithfulness to provide for your life and livelihood.

When we consider both passages in light of each other, the command to do no work on the seventh day of the week is a call for the people of Israel to rest in the remembrance of God’s wisdom, power, love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness revealed in his work of Creation and their deliverance from enslavement in Egypt. In light of God’s proven love and faithfulness rest because you know that God still has your life in his hands. 

Therefore, Sabbath Observance is meant to cultivate righteousness and justice among the people of Israel. Righteousness, or their right relationship with God, is rooted in their ongoing gratitude and trust in God for their life, prosperity, and well being. Justice is expressed by spending their lives honoring God’s love for others and serving the best interests of their fellow human beings within their borders. The heart of righteousness and justice expressed throughout the Hebrew Bible places the highest value on our relationship with God and honors the well being of our fellow humans above concern for our personal security, and the fulfillment of our personal desires. Keeping the Sabbath helps God’s people practice their belief that God provides everything they need to fulfill his purpose for them in the earth.

This love for God and others fulfilled in the high value placed upon righteousness and justice in the land of Israel is meant to signify the presence, power, and faithfulness of God among his people to the surrounding nations.  A love for God and a faith in God that expresses itself in their intentional and characteristic love for one another and all of the people who live among them. This is the heart of God’s Law for his people, Israel.

In response

1. How do you remind yourself of the love, power, and faithfulness of God in your everyday life?

2. How does this help you stay genuinely open and kind when you feel discouraged, disappointed, or overlooked by people?

Isam Itson

Practically Holy is a mentoring community dedicated to empowering people to help each other as a practical and sustainable expression of their faith in Jesus Christ. That’s what Practically Holy is all about. Pursuing our common humanity in Jesus Christ by honoring our God-given purpose and boundaries, as we follow Jesus Christ together, and help others do the same, as dedicated members of our communities, from generation to generation.

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