Posts Tagged ‘Sabbath’

Sermon 11-09-14: “Your Boss Orders You to Take a Break!”

November 13, 2014


In our culture, we imagine Paradise as a place free from work, and that work, at best, is a necessary evil. In fact, most of us want to make enough money some day so that we can stop working entirely. Today’s scripture is literally about Paradise—the Garden of Eden—and what do we see the first humans doing in Paradise? Working! The truth is, we were made to work. Work is good gift from God. If this is true, however, why does work so often become harmful to us? How can we work in the way that God intended—in a way that enables us to also enjoy Sabbath rest?

Sermon Text: Genesis 1:26-2:3; 2:7-9, 15

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

Most of you have probably heard about NFL players such as Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson who have faced legal trouble recently over the problem of domestic abuse. A lot of people are wondering if there’s a connection between playing this seemingly violent sport of football in the NFL and domestic abuse. Is there something about the job that contributes to the problem? Last week, an editor at Christianity Today used these high-profile stories to shed light on a more widespread problem at home—a problem that very likely affects you or someone you love. It’s not domestic abuse but domestic neglect. And we know for sure there’s a strong connection between our jobs and this problem.

For example, how many of you remember the 40 hour work week? According to one Washington think-tank, 86 percent of men and 67 percent of women now work more than 40 hours a week. We already get far fewer vacation days than our European counterparts, for instance, and we rarely take all the days that we’re entitled to. Most of us believe it’s bad for our careers to be away from work for very long.

Then there’s the related problem of not really being away from work, even when we’re away from work. I liked this headline in the satirical “newspaper” The Onion: “Laid-Back Company Allows Employees to Work from Home after 6 P.M.” The CEO of the company is quoted as saying, “If it helps them be efficient and get more done, I have no problem with people working remotely once they’ve left the office for the day.” He noted that as long as they’re doing their jobs, the location where his staff members choose to work between 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. is ‘completely up to them.’”

Some of you probably work for companies like that! Read the rest of this entry »

Sabbath means that all time belongs to God

January 27, 2011

If Prof. John Hayes shared this idea in my Old Testament class, I was asleep—which, let’s face, is a distinct possibility. The following comes from the long out-of-print Broadman Bible Commentary, published in 1969 by the Southern Baptists—before a theological civil war ripped that denomination apart. (If you can’t tell, I used to be Baptist.)

If you’re Methodist, I know you’re instantly suspicious of anything “Baptist,” but the scholarship is first-rate. It’s an excellent intermediate commentary. In this commentary on the fourth commandment, Roy Honeycutt, Jr. shares a perspective on Sabbath I’ve never heard before.

What was the principle inherent within the sanctity of the seventh day, and its relationship to the covenant? The principle of pars pro toto (the part may stand for the whole) was significant for several Old Testament practices. For example, first fruits were dedicated to the Lord in the belief that the whole of the crop was compressed into the first offering. In the giving of the part, the whole was also being offered up to God. The same was true of the sacrifice of the firstborn animal, or the dedication of the firstborn of men. Future offspring were symbolically compressed into the animal sacrificed or the child dedicated. Even part of the people could stand or act for the whole family or nation, as in the case of Aachan (Joshua 7:1 ff.) or the Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:1 ff.).

The same principle was probably inherent in the sabbath. The whole of the week was symbolically compressed into the one day and dedicated to the Lord. By refraining from his own efforts on that day, man effectually recognized divine ownership. Thus, all time belonged to God, as did the whole of the creation…

This “part standing for the whole” also helps me better fit the cross and atonement in its proper Old Testament context. How does Jesus represent all of humanity on the cross, such that his suffering and death could be “in our place”? This principle is common in the Old Testament in ways I hadn’t thought of before.

Roy L. Honeycutt Jr., “Exodus” in The Broadman Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1969), 397.