Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Sabbath Question

This has been a question in my mind for some time.  I heard one writer say something to the effect of, well, it is clear Jesus corrected the Pharisaical view of Sabbath observance, but at the same time, this is one of the 10 commandments, so is it right to ignore it altogether?

I just now came across this article by Harvey Bluedorn:

Before I read it, some thoughts and encounters  I've had up til now:

ON THE RADIO:  Janet Parshall's interview with Dr. Sleeth was interesting.  Janet said she felt convicted by this book.  I've wanted to be convicted.

Sabbath is about restraint—intentionally not doing everything all the time just because we can. ..The Sabbath is about letting go of the controls one day a week and letting God be God. So how do we do it?
In 24/6, Dr. Matthew Sleeth describes our symptoms, clarifies the signs, diagnoses the illness, and lays out a simple plan for living a healthier, more God-centered life in a digitally-dazed, always-on world. Sleeth shares how his own family was dramatically transformed when it adopted Sabbath practices and helps readers better understand how their own lives can be transformed—physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually—by adopting the 24/6 lifestyle.
A shorter summary:
In his new book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life (Tyndale House Publishers, November 2012), Dr. Matthew Sleeth details the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of observing a "stop day," unplugging one day each week, that he has both witnessed and experienced. 

NOTHING SECULAR:  I was a bit shocked at the kind of strict Sabbath observance such as what I read in the Elsie Dinsmore books.  The little heroine would suffer and die rather than read a newspaper or play an unreligious ditty on piano on Sunday, the Lord's Day, out of obedience.  The Isaiah chapter featured big here.

SABBATH OR LORD'S DAY - 7TH VS 1ST DAY:  The NT specifies that Christians met on the first day of the week.  So, the specific day is not important.

FOR HEALTH:  I read "Sleep, It Does a Family Good" and the sleep expert said studies show we get about 7 days to recover from sleep debt.

FOR ACKNOWLEDGING GOD as CREATOR -  MAINTAINING 7 DAY WEEKS: Dr. George Grant pointed out that observing the Sabbath, however you do it (he emphasized not doing homework for his students), is an acknowledgement that our time is not our own.  He numbered our days.  We do not need to work non-stop (Ps. 127).

Here are an argument from this fact: God is the maker of time. God created the 7 day week - working 6, resting 1.   Clearly if there is no Sabbath, and we treat all days alike by working, there are no weeks, practically speaking... Unless... we create some other delineation, like family day- that is, Saturday, the Victorian invention.  And why would we steal God's right to make the call?

GOD DEFINES WORK: he does all things, but where?  Something to look into. 

The NATURE OF THE COMMANDMENT: No other commandment is so well explained among the decalogue.  Why does this commandment have so many words?

So, now to read Bluedorn's 15 page essay. 


  1. I disagree with Harvey Bluedorn's logic: I think he sets of a false dichotomy, and then chooses the one side of the two which makes the only sense. He merely assumes that the other side was commanded by God as an admittedly harsh 'teaching' tool, and then reasons that God, out of nowhere, suddenly abolishes that tool without warning, and holds accountable those who, for some reason, actually wish to continue to abide in that tool.

    On the living Earth, a day is not a grid on a calendar, much less a duration of time in the emptiness of deep space. The Truth is never equivalent to its form, for the form may be used to evil ends by those who have a little understanding and a lot of desperation. But, whenever the Truth comes, the Truth always comes in its own form.

    The full range and depth of worldly benefits for observing the humble sacred Truths seem always to eclipse those Truths. This is how powerful the Truth is. This also is how humble the Truth is. I hope only to be so humble, even as Jesus himself was.

    The problem is when Truth's humility is over-emphasized, or its power de-emphasized. I suppose that always this is done out of a secular ignorance of the form of the Truth, under the impression that the form is trivial, even unjust.

    Of course, the form of Truth without the Truth is oppressive, to say the least. But, this in no way invalidates its form; it re-emphasizes it. The consummate marriage act has a form, and its form is inherently present with its truth. This, despite that that form can be so divorced from its truth as to make that form into one of the most unjust acts imaginable. Such as rape in which not only is the woman so traumatized by the rape itself, but by being convinced that her rapist is telling the truth when, in the midst of the rape, he says that what he is doing to her is what love really is, and that, despite that he is a stranger to her, he even is her husband, and that everyone thinks he is right in so saying and doing. So, it is admitted that such an unjust act, rather than invalidating the form, cannot help but re-emphasize the natural mutual necessity between that form and its original, and only, Truth.

    So, the sacred Truths are so humble and gentle as to make possible the divorcing of the Truth from its form, for some evil’s sake that would misuse that form.

    This, finally, suggests a profound question: what is the most humble and gentle of all sacred Truths? And, how all-but-insensible is its true sacredness? I answer that this is the Sabbath. And, I say that the Sabbath day is like the highest wave over a coral reef, and that one had best guide one's canoe into the harbor on that wave. For, we are not made to live on a boat.

    Relative to the congruent naivety, some corners seem far more justifiably cut than others. This is especially the case for those corners that, to those who are all-but-insensible to them, seem not to be there at all. Does the health of the microbiological/bacteriological ecology not depend on a regular cycle of refreshment?

  2. Thank you for the concise and candid criticism. I'd like to read Bluedorn's article with it in mind. I still have not settled the matter for myself. Your last rhetorical question would cause pause.

    What do you think of upholding this law when the NT shows Christians did not, when they met on the first day of the week?


Thanks so much! I greatly value thoughtful comments!! ~ Gabriela