Sabbath rest in a 24/7 culture

Without qualification Eichrodt makes the point that in OT history the weekly practice of setting aside one day for rest was unique to Israel. In other words, Israelites lived in a 24/7 world where trade was happening 24/7. To take one day off each week would result in compounded business implications for faithful Israelite businessmen over the long term. Writes Goldengay: “Not to trade on the sabbath seriously reduces opportunity to succeed in business. The prophet [Isaiah] does not promise that people will do so well on the other six days that they will not lose out, in the manner of the Israelites in the wilderness who found enough manna on Friday to last two days. The exhortation does not even promise that people will do well enough, even if not as well as the most successful foreigners who are free to trade on the sabbath. It does promise, specifically to eunuchs and foreigners who accept this discipline, the joy of making their mark within the people of God and of participating in the worship of the temple (Is 56:1–8).” In other words, taking a day to gather with the people of God will cost you–it will cost you financially because that’s one day you cannot trade, and it will cost you in productivity because that’s one day out of the field or mill or workshop. All the while the Israelites must have been aware that their neighbors were using Saturday to make money. But for those foreigners willing to turn away from the 24/7 attitude of their culture, to walk by faith, and to observe the Sabbath rest, to these God promises (through Isaiah) a fruitful place among the People of God and a truckload of spiritual and eternal blessings.

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