If you follow me on Facebook, that’s assuming that you’ve read the terms and conditions for Facebook and agreed to them, then you might have seen some of my posts from the Babylonian Bee, which is a Christian Satire site, recently this one struck me as fitting.
BOSTON, MA—Local man Justin Fuller immediately fell dead after clicking “I have read and accept these terms and conditions” when installing a new piece of software Friday morning.
The Lord and Sovereign Judge, from which nothing is hidden, could tell Fuller had not even glanced at the twelve pages of legalese, and thus his checking of the box was a lie against which God took immediate vengeance.
“This is very scary,” said software analysis Terrell Bennett. “It makes me wonder if other people have not been reading the end-user license agreement. It’s an important contract between the licensor and the purchaser, and it could be chaos if people didn’t understand all the ramifications of what they were agreeing to. If you click you accept those terms and conditions without having read them, you’re lying to the software vendor, to your MacBook Pro, and to the Creator of us all who is always watching.”
CompuGlobal, the maker of the software Fuller was installing, has informed Fuller’s wife she will get a full refund for the computer program since the EULA was not properly agreed to. “Hopefully everyone in the future will take the time to read the terms and conditions,” said David Zimmerman, the lawyer who wrote the EULA.
“When we put the contracts in the install step, we assume everyone reads them and it is legally binding,” Zimmerman added before immediately falling dead.
This is week 4 of Terms and Conditions and in week 1 we defined Terms and Conditions this way; Rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.
In week one we talked about the terms and conditions in the beginning that man and woman were created to be in fellowship with God, there was just one thing on the terms and conditions, don’t eat from that one tree, you can eat from any other tree in the garden, just don’t eat from that one tree. And you know where they went fruit picking.
And because of their disobedience, humanities relationship with God was damaged.
The next week we looked at the terms and conditions for worshipping God, that is meeting him in a restored relationship. And we discovered that God not only wants our relationship with him to be right but also our relationship with others to be right. And we talked about apologies and forgiveness.
Last week we looked at the terms and conditions for Evangelism, remember Evangel means good news, so these are the rules and conditions for telling people the good news about Jesus. And we started with the observation that God cares about lost people and wants them to be found. The T & Cs of that is that in order for someone to hear the message someone has to share the message. And out of that, I shared the vision and mission of Cornerstone.
Today we are going in a little different direction. In the scripture that was read earlier, we heard these words, Isaiah 58:13-14 “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honour the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honour and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
So, let’s start with The Service The prophet tells the people of Israel that if they fulfil the terms and conditions the service that they can avail themselves of is the delight of the Lord. But what does that mean?
Perhaps the “Delight of the Lord’ is most evident when it’s missing. And most of us have felt that absence at times.
You ever feel like the Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland”? You know the one, he’s always rushing this way and that looking at his watch and muttering, “I’m late, I’m late”. It seems that every hour of every day is filled to the limit with things that need doing and we never seem to have enough time to do it all. How often have you caught yourself wishing for more hours in the day or more days in the week so that you could finally catch up and finish everything that you are supposed to do?
That wouldn’t do any good though, we all know Murphy’s law and some of us know about Newton’s law of gravity, but how many of us are familiar with Parkinson’s Law? It was first set forth in the middle of the last century, 1955 to be exact, by C. Northcote Parkinson. And Parkinson’s law states “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
And so regardless of how much time you had available you still wouldn’t have enough. And if you were granted your wish of having an extra day in each week your stress level would simply be added to, because you would have one more day to try to jam too much into. Maybe instead we should wish for shorter days with fewer days in the week to limit our crazy schedules.
Modern technology promised us that all of the new conveniences would save us time and make our lives easier, but in the workplace, computers, and cell phones have increased the pace of our work rather than reducing it.
At home dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums, microwaves not to mention computers and cell phones have made life easier but to go back to Parkinson law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
And so, mothers lose the time they saved to schlepping the kids around to hockey, music and school activities. Even our kids are stressed out because so much of their time is scheduled and there is so little time to just be a kid, playing and allowing their imaginations to run wild.
It is a never-ending circle that seems to escalate over time until finally, there is no more time. Henry Twells an English poet who lived in the 1800’s wrote:
When as a child I laughed and wept,
When as a youth I waxed more bold,
When I became a full-grown man,
When older still I daily grew,
Soon I shall find, in passing on,
O Christ! wilt Thou have saved me then?
And that doesn’t sound like what David was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
That’s cool but it still begs the question, how do we delight in the Lord?
Let’s go back to our original scripture again, Isaiah 58:13-14 “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honour the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honour and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
So here are The Terms and Conditions Very simply, keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day.
Unfortunately, The Sabbath as a day of rest seems to be an archaic thought in 2018.
You’re thinking “Well sure, that was fine for back then when people didn’t have as much to do, as far to go, but no sir not for 2018, in 2018 we need every hour of every day and every day of the week to get done what we have to get done.” And that my friend is a crock.
Please remember one cardinal rule of life, “You do, what you want to do.” The fourth commandment was not given just for the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness, and it wasn’t just given for Jesus and his disciples and it wasn’t just given for John Wesley and the early Methodists in the 1700’s or and it wasn’t just given for your grandparents. The fourth commandment is as valid today as it was 30 years ago, 200 years ago, 2000 years ago or 4000 years ago.
God didn’t just give it annoy people or to mess up their plans for the weekend he did it because he knew what we are like. He knew that if he didn’t legislate a time out in our lives that we wouldn’t take one.
A tree has to take a break, it can’t say, “you know I really should produce leaves all year round and fruit in January when it’s cold and miserable.” A tree can’t say that, it has no choice it must take a break because that’s the way it was created.
But people are different, we have our freedom and that is the problem. We can drive our bodies, minds and emotions well past the breaking point. We have the power of choice and because of that power, we are always in danger of destroying ourselves for some false set of values.
It might be work, it might be aging parents, it might be the desire to be the perfect parent and in a combination, it provides a deadly cocktail for burn out.
Because of this great hazard God gave us a great gift, the Sabbath day, a day set apart, the Lord’s day, a day of rest and worship, relaxation, recuperation and joy. It is his gift to all of us, but it’s up to each one of us to decide whether or not we will accept it.
A lot of confusion, misunderstanding, dogmatism and hard feelings are generated by this commandment. Almost everybody uses it to prove some point of view.
So, let’s move very carefully as we explore what it means to observe the Sabbath today.
Now at this point, we need to clarify that in the Christian church, in most cases, we do not celebrate the Sabbath.
The Sabbath was the last day of the week, and the commandment to observe it is found in Exodus 20:8-10 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.
The seventh day of the week or the Sabbath has historically been celebrated from sundown Friday until sundown on Saturday. And in its original form, it merely forbade the performance of work on the seventh day, it was set apart as a day of total rest.
And so, our Sunday, which is the first day of the week, is not the historical Sabbath. But we are Christians, not Jews; most of us aren’t even Christian Jews like the early church. I know that in our Christian vocabulary and in our hymns and poems we certainly use the word “Sabbath” as a valid figure of speech when referring to Sunday, but we need to understand that the two are not the same.
The fourth commandment is the only Old Testament commandment that is not repeated anywhere in the New Testament, nowhere. Each of the other nine commandments is reiterated and often made even tougher in the New Testament, but not this one.
There is no record of Jesus ever teaching anyone to keep the Sabbath. As far as we know, no apostle ever told anyone to observe it. In John 5:18 we are told that Jesus violated the Sabbath and in other stories, we almost get the impression that he did so very deliberately.
But if the letter of the law, the seventh day Sabbath, is not applicable to us today, certainly the principle of the Sabbath still is. Because it is grounded in the nature of God, in the nature of man and in the nature of creation.
Although the New Testament nowhere echoes the exact literal Saturday Sabbath command it certainly reinforces the divine principle behind the command. That principle is that a specific and proportionate amount of time is set apart for rest and worship.
That principle was not first laid down in the book of Exodus but in the book of Genesis, which tells how God himself rested after six days of creative labour. And even before the Commandments were given, earlier in the book of Exodus when God provided manna for the Israelites to eat, he told them to gather a double portion on the sixth day, so they wouldn’t have to collect it on the seventh day.
The Christians of the New Testament soon discarded the literal Seventh Day Sabbath but kept the Sabbath day principle. Instead of keeping the last day of the week, they began to keep the first day of the week, which we call Sunday.
Why? Because it was recognized as being the day Christ arose from the dead. Paul follows 1 Corinthians 15 the great resurrection chapter with these words in 1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.
And so, Paul establishes a principle of a set time of the week when a gift is given to God. The first day of the week. But it’s not enough to know where the concept of the Lord’s Day came from, we need to understand why the principle behind the Sabbath is still valid today. And we find the key in three spots in the scripture. The first is from the command itself. Exodus 20:8-10 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. And so, the first thing we need to see in this command is that we are called to Rest on the Sabbath
We live in a tired generation, we are chasing a brass ring that may never be able to be caught and we are willing to make way too many sacrifices for it, and we do sacrifice for it and it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon listen to what Robert Louis Stevenson wrote over a hundred years ago “Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by neglect of many other things.”
The rest that God commands us to take allows us to step back from the arena of life and evaluate exactly what it is we are trying to achieve. Even from a purely physical perspective, it has been proven that people cannot go on indefinitely without things starting to go wrong with their bodies, their minds and their emotions. God is basically telling us in the fifth commandment, “Take a break”
Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “I do not mean to make an idol of health, but it does seem to me that at least some of us have made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see the least. When we lie down to sleep at night, we offer our full appointment calendars to God in lieu of prayer, believing that God—who is as busy as we are—will surely understand”
Will he? We used to tell our kids that if they got in an awkward spot and they were being pressured to do something they weren’t comfortable with, that they could blame us. “I can’t do that my parents would kill me.”
God is telling us that we could blame him. “I know that there are all kinds of things I could do on Sunday, but the bible tells me to take a break. What can you do?”
But it’s not just a day of rest; the next scripture would indicate that there is more to Sabbath observance then simply staying in bed, sorry. Deuteronomy 5:15 Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.
Not only does God call us to rest on a special day but he also calls us to Reflect on the Sabbath as well. In this scripture, God is calling his people to reflect on how He had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt.
Today, for Christ Followers, I would suspect that it would be fair to reflect on how God delivered us from sin.
Now some people try to rationalize that a Sabbath spent golfing, shopping or going to the beach as fulfilling the spirit of the Sabbath. Golfers, in particular, plead their case by saying, “I do more real praying on the golf course then I do in church”. However, “Please God, give me a birdie,” is not recognized as part of any accepted liturgy, nor does it substitute for a good worship service.
Sunday is a day for God’s people to get together and to reflect and celebrate what He has done for us. We do that by singing his praise, by reading and hearing from his word, by lifting up his name in prayer and by giving to his work. In this case, it’s Cornerstone.
We had mentioned previously that it appeared that Jesus had a problem with the Sabbath, which isn’t exactly true, what he had a problem with was what people had done to the Sabbath. Mark 2:27-28 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”
And so we need to learn to Respect the Sabbath
Throughout history, the observance of the Sabbath or of the Lord’s Day has inspired two extremes. People have found ways to misuse this gift just as they’ve found ways to misuse the other gifts that God has given us. The first extreme are those people who have historically made Sunday into a day of gloom and depression instead of a day of joy and gladness.
This is what had happened in Jesus’ day. The scribes and Pharisees had counted 39 letters in the original langue of the fourth commandment and multiplied 39 by 39 and came up with 1521 and that was the number of ways they had come up with to break the Sabbath.
We aren’t going to do the fourth commandment any favours when we turn it into something like “Thou shalt not enjoy life on Sunday.” Many people mean well, but we cannot make people, especially children, enjoy God by forbidding them to enjoy anything else on Sunday. Such a rigid observance of Sunday can become just as idolatrous today as it was in Jesus’ day and that is what he was warning us about.
But usually today that’s not our problem, is it? Our problem today is probably the opposite extreme, we take a holy day and turn it into a holiday, a day of commercialized recreation, entertainment and profit.
Some of us have taken that passage in Matthew where Jesus says that if your ox falls into a ditch on the Sabbath that it’s all right to pull it out and have used that as an excuse for doing everything and anything on Sunday.
The truth is though if we are careful and avoid pushing the ox in the ditch on Monday through Saturday then we won’t have to spend Sunday pulling it out. And if your ox has a habit of falling into the same ditch every week then you ought to fill in the ditch or get rid of the ox.
According to the Bible, God created the Sabbath. It’s not just a day on which nothing happened, but God blessed it and made it holy. It is intended as more than just a day of fun or rest. Within that day represents one-seventh of our week and ultimately one-seventh of our life.
The first six days the bible tells us God called “good” the seventh day God made Holy. So what can we do on Sunday or what should we do? Good question. I think I’ll close with a list that Dr. Laura Schlessinger gives in her book “The Ten Commandments, the Significance of God’s laws in everyday life.” She tells us that we can observe the Sabbath day by:
- Not working for wages or competing for awards
- Making some time to relax and do nothing. (Although not specified in the Scripture, a Sabbath nap is certainly a divine gift.)
- Reading and studying religious materials.
- Playing with children, spouse and family.
- Taking leisurely strolls.
- Enjoying wonderful meals and discussions with friends and neighbours.
- Talking with children about their everyday lives, thoughts, and feelings.
- Attending religious services, lectures, and discussions.
- Praying and contemplating.
- Lovemaking with your spouse (reconnecting in mind, body and spirit).
So, enjoy the rest of the day. Take some time to rest and some time to reflect.