Sabbath, by dan b. allender

sabbath-allenderI’ve not read anything by Dan Allender that hasn’t blessed me.  This recent publication, Sabbath, was no exception.  It is part of a group of books published by Thomas Nelson called The Ancient Practices Series. 

Maybe your first thought when you read the title was that this was going to be another legalistic treatise on how to keep the Sabbath the ‘right’ way.  It is far from that.  This is a refreshingly insightful look at Sabbath that will truly enrich the lives of anyone willing to give Dan’s words even a thoughtful moment.  As written in Mark 2:27, the Sabbath was created for man  and thus was designed to be a delight (Is 58:13).  The Sabbath is a time to hang out with God in a manner that is re-creative – thus the reference to the Creation in the 4th commandment. 

If Sabbath is merely time off from work, it is, as Eugene Peterson called it, a ‘bastard Sabbath’, a secular sabbath – far from what God wants his creation to enjoy.  We’ve misunderstood the ‘rest’ aspect of the Sabbath.  God didn’t need ‘rest’, so what is it that God ‘rested’ from?  Dan suggests that God’s rest – and thus ours – was a change from making creation to a delightful and joyous celebration of his creation. Imagine that first Sabbath with Adam.  Did God sit him down on the very first pew, in the first ever constructed ‘church’ building, standing on a platform to deliver a sermon from behind a pulpit to his congregation of one?  Or, rather, was it an exciting walk through the garden together delighting in the diversity of God’s imagination in plant, animal, and geography? 

The bible presents the Sabbath as a day to celebrate cessation from soul destructive activities.  It is also a reminder of the inclusiveness of grace – all creation ‘rests’. We are separated from the imagination of the world to enter into another realm – the imagination of God and His kingdom.  It is a time to ‘dance with God’.  Sabbath is referred to by the Jewish people as the ‘queen’.  To be sanctified is to be ‘bethrothed’ – set aside for holy use.  Thus we welcome this ‘queen’ into our existence with anticipation, entering the mystery and beauty and playfulness of the Trinity. 

Sabbath is a time to celebrate life – choosing to look at all God has made from the vantage point of eternity.  The Sabbath day restores us to a God perspective that enables us to engage the new week as the salt and light we have been called to be.

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