We all know of bad laws we wish were not there. Sometimes this thinking is strictly across political lines and others it’s not so obvious. When you are talking about a law, written by elected officials, over thousands of pages… it’s easy to lose track of what the purpose of the law originally was and get lost in the details. And when those details become overwhelming, it’s easy to see how a law (even with good intention) can get to the point it is no longer good. But what if it’s God Law?
God’s Laws were written by the creator of the universe and were simple and short. Yet one of the most frequent messages of Christ throughout the Gospels is actually against those enforcing the law. In one circumstance, Jesus attempts to directly confront the Pharisees about this dilemma. He never assumes there is a problem with the law, but merely how the law is being enforced.
The law in question is the Fourth Commandment.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exod 20:8-11)
God’s wording of this law was clean and simple. He worked six days and rested, we should do the same. Keep it Holy. But the Jewish people had “interpreted” this law over the centuries and “clarified” it’s meaning to a point is was no longer very “clear”. So Jesus attempts to use the concept Abraham Lincoln mentions in his quote by pointing out the flaw in their interpretation of the law (not the law itself).
“One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.” (Luke 14:1-6)
God’s purpose behind His law was that we needed to take time away from our “toil” to remember and reflect on God. He had no physical need for rest, but He still rested to reflect on His work. We also should rest and reflect on His work. However, this of course would be no excuse for ‘inaction’ to help a brother or sister (or even an ox) in need. The Pharisees had developed a very strict ‘interpretation’ of this Law. Jesus sought to ‘strictly enforce’ their interpretation verbally to point out the flaw in their interpretation.
You see, God said ‘you shall not do any work’. Work means some sort of physical or mental labor for gain. When you are serving your fellow child of God, and getting nothing in return, you are not working… you are serving. And we all should serve more and work less.
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