God’s Stop SignSeptember 5, 2012 - 5:00 am
“By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” — Genesis 2:2–3
One of the main misconceptions about the Jewish observance of the Sabbath is the prohibition about working on that day. How do we define work? Are we able to do anything at all? Many view prohibitions like lighting a fire or cooking on the Sabbath as antiquated because today these activities involve so little effort that they can hardly be considered work.
For answers, we turn to God’s word. In Exodus 35:3, it clearly prohibits milekhet machashevet (me-LECH-et maak-a-CHEV), which means “creative work” in Hebrew. For six days we are permitted — even commanded — to work and subdue nature. In this capacity, we serve as God’s co-partners in the creation of the world. But on the seventh day, we are commanded to take a break from our own creative work so we could focus on the true Creator — God.
You see, God knows us all too well. He recognized and anticipated that our intelligence and creativity might lead us to forget the actual source of our own creative power. As human beings, we can easily get caught up in what we do and how much we accomplish, neglect the spiritual side of life, and turn away from Him. Doubt that’s true? Flip a few pages in your Bible from Genesis 2 to Genesis 11 and the story of the Tower of Babel.
We all know the story: The act of building a tower reaching to the sky reflected man’s attempt to dethrone God, to rid Him of divine sovereignty, and to fill that vacuum with man’s creative genius. This is why God decided to confuse their language and scatter them all over the world. They lost their focus on the true Creator.
When we refrain from all creative activities on the Sabbath — including cooking — we are acknowledging that God is the ultimate source of being and creation. We affirm that the earth belongs to the Him and that man is not God.
Consider how you might change your attitudes and behaviours on Sunday to keep your focus on God. In what ways can you affirm God as Creator?