When my kids were growing up, I often had to tell them “Don’t!”. Don’t touch a hot stove. Don’t put a fork in an electrical outlet. Don’t drink and drive a car. I did these for their benefit, not mine. I would contend that the same is true of God’s law. The laws of God are for mankind’s benefit and for glorifying our Holy God. We have a tendency to misstate the intentions of God. This is ever so clear with the keeping of the Sabbath. Some Rabbis identify 39 distinct categories of “Don’ts”. One such category from Rabii Aryeh Kaplan is #16. Reaping: This includes cutting or plucking any growing thing. Agriculture is again one of the main ways in which man shows his dominance over nature. This category is therefore also one of those mentioned in the Torah, as we find (Ex. 34:21), “Six days shall you work, but you shall rest on the seventh; in plowing and in harvesting, you shall rest.” Such activities as plucking a flower and plucking a fruit from a tree come under this heading. The same is true of mowing a lawn. It was also legislated that we do not handle any growing flowers or plants. It is also forbidden to climb a tree or smell a growing flower. Fruit which falls from a tree on the Sabbath may not be used on the same day. The use of animals as well as plants is forbidden since there is the concern that one might forget and inadvertently pluck a branch for use as a switch. Of course, these manmade additions to God’s law produce bondage and become rather ridiculous. Jesus pointed this out in a profound manner.
And it happened that He was passing through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”; Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-24; 27-28 NASB
In what ways have I superimposed additional rules to God’s law? Am I living in the freedom of Christ? Am I using any freedom as a cloak for vice?
God, as this day begins- I am thinking about people who are recovering physically and emotionally from injuries. May You accelerate their healing by restoring their bodies, giving them endurance through painful therapy, and providing wisdom and insight to each. May their family and church friends be supportive. As I ponder the great freedom I’ve found in following Jesus, I am so grateful. It is for freedom that Christ has truly set us free. Thank you that Your first instruction was to not carry any burden on the Sabbath. Since I have entered into the Sabbath, I’ve found that You’ve born the burden of my sin and shame long ago on the cross- so I do not have to anymore. Amen.