Keeping it Holy

This morning my wife and I were reading in Numbers, chapter 15. Verses 32-36 treat the topic of Sabbath. As is our habit, we followed up on some of the cross- references. There are many. The idea of Sabbath is important to God. Unfortunately, it does not seem nearly so important to man.

thThe origin of the Hebrew sabbat is uncertain, but it seems to have derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep. Its theological meaning is rooted in God’s rest following the six days of creation (Genesis 2:2-3). The meaning of the Sabbath can be found in several places. Exodus 20:8-11 tells us this:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This passage makes a clear connection between the Sabbath day and the seventh day on which God the Creator rested. Sabbath observance therefore involves the affirmation that God is Creator and Sustainer of the world. In the New Testament, believers found it appropriate to use the day of Resurrection as the day of Sabbath rest and worship. (See Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

To “remember the Sabbath” meant that the Jew identified the seven-day-a-week rhythm of life as belonging to the Creator. If the Creator stopped his creative activity on the seventh day, then those who share in his creative work must do the same. Sabbath contravenes any pride that may accompany human mastery and manipulation of God’s creation. In ceasing from labor we are reminded of our true status as dependent beings, of the God who cares for and sustains all his creatures, and of the world as a reality belonging ultimately to God.

_______

In the next few entries, we’ll look at several aspects of the Sabbath. In the meantime, I’d be interested in seeing YOUR ideas on Sabbath. What does it mean to you? Does it require anything of us? On what day should it be observed?

 

Zombies Among Us?

The term “Culture of Death,” has been in use for some time. It is found in some ancient church documents and was popularized by a Catholic pope in the 1990s. It refers to the cultural fascination with the flesh and, particularly, with death. The term is often associated with abortion.

Nothing, in my estimation, exemplifies this obsession more than the current zombie craze. Dictionary.com defines a zombie as, “The body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.” Though the idea of “undead” individuals walking around and stalking the living is not new (Boris Karloff starred in “Zombie Apocalypse” in the 1930s) there has been a resurgence of interest in the last decade or so.

Interestingly, people have even found a way to use zombies to blame George Bush for just about everything, “The zombie mob originated in 2003 in Toronto, … and popularity escalated dramatically in the United States in 2005, alongside a rise in dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. It was a way that the population was getting to exercise the fact that they felt like they hadn’t been listened to by the Bush administration…. Nobody really wanted that war, and yet we were going to war anyway.” (Read the entire article.)

Death_culture

Books, video games, movies, TV series, and comic books using some form of zombie theme have all proliferated recently. The photo here was taken in a large, popular department store recently. Advertised as a book for young adults, “The Walking Dead,” is based upon a comic book series and it’s attendant TV series.

How special. Instead of wholesome literature (by any definition) teens are reading about death, carnage, cannibalism, and general horror and gore.

The Bible speaks often of death. There are more than 700 uses of the terms death and dead in the English Standard Version (ESV). Not one of them refers to the “Undead,” although there are numerous instances of the word “resurrection” (see especially, Luke 11 and 1 Corinthians 15).

All people will die (except those living at the time of Christ’s return). Some will be aroused again. In Daniel (12:2) we read, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” The Apostle Paul clarifies thusly,

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Jesus, Himself, declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (John 11:25).

But what about those who are not in Christ? Jesus spoke about them a few times. One instance will suffice to relate their eternal destiny. He said, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46). No walking around titillating the senses of young adults; no zombie mobs. In a sense, those who are not in Christ are walking dead (see Ephesians 2:1-10). But they are not zombies.

Oh, I understand fantasy and fiction. There are no hobbits in Scripture, either. But this emphasis on gore, mutilation, and destruction is not edifying. It may be, however, the opportunity to talk to people about eternal life. Remember the words of Jesus, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”