Read Exodus 19:6. What does this text tell us about the status of ancient Israel? (See also 1 Peter 2:9.)
Israel had been called out of Egypt to be God’s covenant people, the nation through whom, had they stayed faithful, the gospel would have been spread to the world. No question, they were the object of God’s special care and concern, given special privileges, and at the same time, given special responsibilities.
Read Exodus 23:12. What else is going on here? What does this text teach us about how God viewed others besides the Israelites themselves?
The universality of the Sabbath is something that many people miss. Of course, the most common error is that it was only for the Jews, an error exposed in the first two chapters of Genesis. After all, God created all people; so, all people should remember the Sabbath day.
Though we should always keep in mind what the Sabbath represents to us, we should remember, too, what it should tell us about others, as well. In a sense, our resting and relating to our Creator and Redeemer will drive us automatically to look at others with new eyes, to see them as beings created by the same God as we were, loved by the same God who loves us and who died for them as well as for us. As we have seen (Exodus 20:10, Deuteronomy 5:14), the servants, the strangers, even the animals should be given a Sabbath rest.
That even the strangers within their gates, that is even those not (yet) partaking of the covenantal promises given to Israel — that even they should enjoy the Sabbath rest says a lot. Human beings, even animals, should never be exploited, abused, taken advantage of. Every week, the Hebrew people (and we, too) should be reminded in a powerful way of just how much in common we have with other people, and even if we do enjoy blessings and privileges that others don’t, we must remember that we are still part of the same human family, and thus we are to treat others with respect and dignity.
|How could your own Sabbath keeping, perhaps, become a blessing to those who don’t keep the Sabbath? That is, how can you use the Sabbath as a witness to others?|