Rev. Joy Ireland – “The Role of Sabbath in Restoration”
Read Nehemiah 13:15-22
“I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.’” – Nehemiah 13:17-18
Nehemiah lived at an exciting time in history. One moment he is the cupbearer to the Babylonian king while in exile, the next he is commissioned by said king to bring restoration to the Israelites. Talk about the intervention of God! One need not read too far into the book of Nehemiah to see the evident hand of God. Though not without opposition, the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt, the covenantal law is received, and the city of God is inhabited once again. All is well, right? Wrong!! Further purification is needed, including specific instruction regarding proper adherence to the Sabbath.
As in Old Testament days, Sabbath observance still has a way of making or breaking God’s people. Do we trust God enough with our resources to give our work a full day of rest every week? Are we willing to live differently before those around us? Do we embrace the commands of God in such a way as to allow them to define our day-to-day lives? Nehemiah saw fit to provide Israel with a thorough assessment of their obedience. We should do the same. Need restoration? Listen to the instructions of our great and mighty Restorer…rest a day each week!