No Longer Slaves

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
- Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Sabbath reminds us who we truly are before the Lord.
Yesterday we looked at one account of the giving of the Ten Commandments (and, more particularly, the Fourth Commandment --- Sabbath). Today’s passage would have been written a generation or so after yesterday’s passage, as Exodus narrates the departure from Egypt and Deuteronomy records Moses’ epic retelling of the law before the people enter into the land God had promised them.
The two accounts have major similarities: a command to keep the Sabbath, an introduction to the principle of rhythms of work and rest, instructions about the communal reach of Sabbath, and a reason why Sabbath is so important.
But in this last feature, the two accounts differ. Exodus points to the creation narrative and God resting at the end of his creative labors: we rest in imitation, created in God’s own image. But Deuteronomy points to the new identity of the people of God: we once were slaves but have been set free by God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm.
Why the difference?
Perhaps Moses saw his friends over the years struggle to keep a Sabbath. Unplugging for a whole day can be difficult. Sabbath can become a burden. And Moses knew it was supposed to be a blessing.
We are no longer slaves. We have been set free, liberated. Slaves work day-in and day-out. They have no rest from their labors. But our heavenly Father wants to give us good, good rest.
We need God’s help to get us to step out of a slave mentality. We need his rhythms and structures. And we need his spiritual power. He can help us live as his beloved children, if we’ll receive his help.
Take some time today to meditate on this new identity the Lord has given you: no longer a slave, now a child of God. If music helps you reflect, you can listen to a song like this one: No Longer Slaves.

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