Each Tuesday and Thursday I do a short reflection on a Bible verse from a devotional and social justice perspective. You can sign up to get a prompt via SMS here:
Text Of The Day
Today’s text is Genesis 2:1-4. This version is from The Message:
Heaven and Earth were finished,
down to the last detail.
By the seventh day
God had finished his work.
On the seventh day
he rested from all his work.
God blessed the seventh day.
He made it a Holy Day
Because on that day he rested from his work,
all the creating God had done.
This is the story of how it all started,
of Heaven and Earth when they were created.
Christians often fail to appreciate the social significance of the sabbath. When they read about Jesus defying the Pharisees and healing on the sabbath, they often think, “Those mean ol’ Pharisees!”
But it’s likely the Pharisees’ thinking was not far from your own doctor’s. If you come in for treatment for a non-life-threatening condition on Saturday, they will tell you to come back when their office is open on Monday!
For a population of people who told the story of escaping from slavery in Egypt, who were forced to live a second-class citizens in Babylon, the sabbath was non-negotiable. It was an emphatic statement that life is more than work, and that every creature is entitled to the dignity of a day of simply being who they are. Their life cannot be co-opted as labor for someone else. Farm animals, even the land, deserve a day of rest to simply be who they are before God.
In this sense, sabbath is about liberation. It is opposed to everything that enslaves and oppresses—including, Jesus reveals, the sabbath itself.
It was a theological statement; not merely a labor law. Here in Genesis, it is written in the fabric of creation. Even the omnipotent God takes a rest, so don’t let anyone steal yours. Make sure that others—especially the financially poor—have what they need to rest. Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent, corporate overlords, or politicians take away your right to sabbath. If and when they do assault your right to a day off, recognize that the destroyers of rest and liberation are held accountable by God.