Reading from Scripture
Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me. On that day no one is to work---…… In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the seas, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.
To the Israelites Egypt and slavery were synonymous. It reminded them of a time without rest or peace. When they were eventually freed, they were afforded the opportunity of enjoying the order built into creation: six days of work, with an opportunity for rest on the seventh. As God had done. There was an inherent rhythm built into creation for the benefit of mankind. Work was regarded as part of a calling to serve and promote culture. Rest was an opportunity to take a breather.
When God rested on the seventh day it was never meant to be understood as doing nothing. After having completed creation, He occupied Himself in a different way – by taking care of everything He had made. This also benefitted man and gave him the right and privilege to rest from his normal daily routine to focus on something else.
Human wreckages are visible strewn all over society due to the pace that we try and maintain to fit in everything. In many cases people do things to secure a more comfortable and luxurious lifestyle. Ironically, the very same people are often so busy, denying themselves the opportunity of enjoying any of these ‘fruits’!
People have different views on the interpretation of this commandment. To some it does not really matter to which specific day of the week it refers: the seventh day after six days of work constitutes Sabbath to them. Others stick to the Old Testament version of the Sabbath, namely the Saturday. The majority of Christians celebrate the resurrection on the first day of the week, which is Sunday.
Whatever interpretation you have, we owe it to the Lord, to ourselves and to each other to take a break, to rest – physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Allow yourself a breather.
Dear Lord, help me organise my life to allow myself some rest, having done my work. Amen.
Reading from Scripture
Respect your father and your mother, so that you may live a long time in the land that I am giving you.
One of the very first instructions from God to man was to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28). As a result children were born and families came into being. Children are by no means ‘accidents’ and they effectuated parenthood in one form or another. In the end children are a gift – a blessing – given by God Himself.
Western culture is predominantly individually orientated. In biblical times things were different. People were always seen as part of a larger society or family, where people took care of one another and where order was maintained. The family created the environment where everyone learned about responsibility within the larger context of civil society.
Parents had certain responsibilities: mothers took care of the children for the first couple of years and the father had to fulfil a threefold role:
• as king he had to coach his children and teach them the finer skills of the trade – to be able to follow in his footsteps. He also took care of disciplining them;
• as prophet he had to instil into them the knowledge of the Torah and reverence for the Lord;
• as priest he had to intercede with God on their behalf at the sacrificial altar.
This commandment demands respect for parents in the first instance. Parents need to act in such a manner that they earn respect. Respect for parents does not hinge on the person, but on the responsibility handed down to them by God.
To be honest: in many respects our homes have become a place to eat and sleep at. A very small remnant of family life has remained intact. People living in the same house merely rush past one another on their way in or out. To fulfil the role of parent has become almost impossible. In many instances the commandment seems to have been turned around: Parents, be obedient towards your children….!
Time has come for parents to take charge again. This will most probably be very unpopular, but will reflect our commitment to God’s command (Deutr 6:6-9
). Families, as well as society will benefit from this.
Lord, help our families to respect and enjoy each other. Amen.