Now if that word isn’t a mouthful, I don’t know what is! And by the sounds of the first part of the word, it is religious in nature. The word means, “to observe the Sabbath” and though we probably aren’t aware of that word, we know something that is associated with it. They were called “Blue Laws”, some that still exist in certain states today, in adapted forms. Basically what they did was restrict what could and couldn’t be sold on a Sunday. Yeah, we will come back to that in a minute. I vaguely remember them growing up in Michigan, but did experience them in West Texas when I moved there in the early 1980’s. Non-grocery stores could not be open and the grocery stores that sold items other than food, these items had to be covered or sectioned off. So “Blue Laws” were a form of Sabbatarianism.
For any that have looked into it at all, the Sabbath is Saturday not Sunday. It was the fourth of the Ten Commandments, right after the three that focused on God and before the honoring of mom and dad. So it seems to be pretty important. Saturday, the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week is also stated as the resting after the creating in the six days preceding it. So from a Jewish perspective, keeping the Sabbath was pretty important.
That importance is part of where the good intentioned problems came in. We were to honor it, to rest from toils as we see in the creation narrative. Well, to rest we must know what we are resting from, thus work must be defined. And so it was with the Jewish leaders, 39 events that could not be preformed on the Sabbath were listed. They included plowing, mending, shearing, writing and it’s companion erasing. Well intended, but man made.
Jumping back to the “Blue Laws”-- it is curious to me, who created the man made list of items that could not be sold. Again, good intentions, but misplaced understanding.
Those good intentions come forward to us today. No, we don’t have any “Blue Laws” though there are more restrictions on alcohol on Sunday than any other day of the week. But the good intentions go even more haywire, because the Ten Commands don’t apply to us. Now that doesn’t mean that I should go around killing, or really thinking how I can get ahold of my neighbor’s Jeep. The lifestyle and mindset Jesus puts forth covers all of that. The Ten Commands were part of the law that Jesus fulfilled, came to fill, complete with His death on the cross (Matthew 5:17). They were there to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:24), a shadow of the good that was coming (Hebrews 10:1). They had a purpose, but they are done, completed by Jesus.
I think the good intentions are trying to find, like the Pharisees, the boundaries of what we can and can’t do. So, we look to the Old Testament to see what their boundaries were or for the pattern in which they did things. Both are good intentions, but end up becoming etched in stone much like the Ten Commandments. To me I love the Old Testament, but not as a source to guide my life, but to understand God and His interaction with His people. He is serious about obedience—and forgiving and most of all, loving. Yeah, I really do get that from the Old Testament. So in reading it, let’s not try to bring it’s commands into our lives, but let’s allow our lives to reflect the relationship that God has always been building with us.