So, I’m reading in Ezekiel these days. I know, I know, how in the world does what the prophet Ezekiel had to say to Israel apply to us today? Really, I’m not sure. I think you have to have a graduate degree in Old Testament to really “get” Ezekiel.
That being said, I noticed something interesting in Ezekiel 20. When God was telling Israel all the rebellious things they did, He kept specifically saying that Israel “desecrated My Sabbaths”. Interesting. Sure, God was ticked off that the Israelites worshipped other gods and generally didn’t follow His laws, but He specifically mentioned that they didn’t keep his Sabbaths. I hadn’t seen this before.
Soooo, I went to my handy, dandy Broadman commentary to find out why the Sabbath suddenly got such a mention in this part of Ezekiel. According to Broadman, the Sabbath was a hallmark of the Hebrew exilic religion. That is, it set them apart from the other groups of people in the area. When they desecrated the Sabbath, it was obvious that they were defying God.
Does this have any special meaning for us today? I think it’s pertinent that God gave His people one day just to worship and to avoid the usual work of the week. And I think it’s very telling that God considers the rejection of the Sabbath to be so critical.
God gave His people the Sabbath to set them apart, but also (I think) because we need to be reminded to rest. Isaiah 30:15 says, “This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.”” And this isn’t the only place that God reminds us that He is our rest. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us, “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
God wants what is good for us. In the Old Testament, He set up the Sabbath as a rest time for us. Even under grace, we need to remember that God originally created the Sabbath for our good. We need to accept His loving rest on a regular basis.
What do you think? Any other ideas on what Ezekiel may have been trying to say?