This is the one-hundred-seventy-third lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” Exodus 20:8-9
From time to time someone questions why we have seven days in a week—and they think an alternative might be better. They tried a ten-day week in France. It was 1792, and the National Convention of the French Revolution adopted a ten-day week, with a ten-hour day, with 1,000 minutes each day. Ignoring Judeo-Christian tradition, they proposed that this more rational way of keeping time would make people happier and more productive. It didn’t work. Neither did Stalin’s six-day week, which conveniently discarded the seventh, religiously oriented day. In Russia, the Christian holy day, the first day of the week, is distinctively called Voskresenye, “Resurrection.”
It seems as though the seven-day week is not just an arbitrary number, but a pattern written into the creation itself. And so people say: “the weekend is just around the corner.” And “thank God it’s Friday.”
Thank God, indeed. It’s good to work, good to be productive, and it’s good to stop and do something else. When the Israelites escaped the bondage of Egypt into the freedom and challenge of the wilderness, God gave them, through Moses, ten life-giving words. We know them as the Ten Commandments. Whole civilizations have been built on the bedrock of “you shall not steal,” “you shall not murder,” and the other “words.” And right toward the top of the list is the command to “remember” or “observe” a day in the week that would be the time when we stop (shabbat) what we normally do to do something different, something holy. (And that day makes the rest of the days more holy, too).
What does your week look like? Does it have productivity and not mere activity? Does it include time with the important people in your life and also time alone when you can think, reflect, and pray? Does it have a time when you worship? Such things happen when we choose to make them happen. This is why God said: “Remember!”
Sit down sometime today and list the seven days of the week. Write one thing on each day that could be and should be different in your life patterns. It may be when you go to bed, when you rise, when you have family time, when you watch television. Ask yourself: “If I were much more intentional about my days, how could I be less wasteful with the time God gives me?”
[To be continued – Be Still and Know God]
[See previous – The Day God Blesses]
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Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel’s many books include Spiritual Leadership Today: Having Deep Influence in Every Walk of Life (Zondervan, 2016). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.