Previously: The Sabbath, part eight
We have already learned that the Sabbath day is a day of rest, of remembering and acknowledging YHVH God as Creator of heaven and earth (since He rested from His act of creation on the seventh day), and incidentally, that as our Creator, we owe Him worship and service. The flip side of rest on the seventh day, is to do no work on the seventh day.
“But the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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.” Exodus 20:10-11
“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations–My appointed times are these: ‘For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings.: Leviticus 23:2-3
“You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers. Jeremiah 17:22
But what, according to God’s dictionary — the Old Testament — defines “work”?
The word is melakah in Hebrew, and means “deputyship” first. This is interesting. If there is a deputy, then there is a sheriff, or one higher in rank and authority, who has delegated his authority to his deputy. I believe the word for “work” meaning “deputyship” is referring to God’s command to Adam (and by implication, all men after him) in the Garden: to subdue the earth and have dominion over all the living things on the earth. For dominion belongs properly to God as Creator, but in the Garden He made man His deputy, and delegated dominion to him.
Besides deputyship, melakah also means employment or any abstract or concrete work; occupation, business, property as a result of labor; workmanship or craftsmanship, or public, political, or religious business or service.
I take that to mean, first, that of course we should not work at whatever our daily labor is: the job or career for the men, or the housework, laundry, cooking, and homeschooling for the women. Also, gardening or any other caring for and improvement of property comes under the definition of work. So do hobbies such as sewing, quilting, or furniture making, since that all involves craftsmanship. And even government and church business is included in the definition of work.
But Jesus taught us that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and of course, to care for dependents. My first rule of thumb for myself is that since the Sabbath is a set apart day, doing that which I could easily do and ought to do on any other day I will not do on the Sabbath. And the Lord gives clues throughout Scripture as to what keeping and not keeping the Sabbath entails.
To be continued …
Update: continued in Resting on the Sabbath