Our Old Testament reading this week is from Amos 8:4-7. In this passage, God, through the prophet, expresses his weariness with the people who wish God’s day of rest would be over. The Old Testament prescribed a Sabbath, a day of rest, the last day of every seven day period. This day of rest was good for the people, good for livestock, good for land and business. It reflected the fact that after seven days of creation, God made a day of rest. It’s a time to enjoy the way God provides for his creation. In the New Testament we see that in his work, atoning for the sins of the world, Jesus rested on the Sabbath in the tomb before rising again on the first day of the week to continue the work of spreading the news of new life.
In the time of Amos there is a serious problem. It is a spiritual problem which goes beyond denying our need to rest and recognize God’s provision. On the Sabbath, the people of Israel were eager to get busy with their commerce. That in itself ran counter to God’s Law. How much more did it go counter to His character? The desire was not only to care for business, but to engage in business which crushed and harmed the poor and needy of the land. This is never acceptable to God, Sabbath or not. He always tells his people to treat others with charitable justice. We are never supposed to overburden our neighbor. Yet the people of Israel wished to do it on the Sabbath, a day of rest.
Is there rest for God’s people? In the New Testament we see that Jesus himself become the Sabbath rest for His people. May we have the grace to seek that rest in Christ, not only for ourselves, but for our neighbors as well.
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