Burdensome? On the contrary. They are anything but. Especially the Sabbath, which is there to help free us from the burdensomeness of our busy lives!
In the 1880’s, the famous Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, wrote a short story called, How Much Land Does A Man Need?
In it, a struggling farmer named Pahom thinks, If I had plenty of land, I shouldn’t fear the Devil himself.
The Devil himself, listening in, silently replies, We will have a tussle. I will give you land enough, and by means of that land I will get you into my power.
Anyway, Pahom then hears about Bashkirs, people who sell land cheaply. Pahom goes to the Bashkirs, and they offer him land for a thousand rubles. As far as he can walk in one day, that’s what he can buy for his thousand rubles, but on one condition:
If you don’t return on the same day to the spot whence you started, they said, your money is lost.
Thrilled, Pahom takes off, walking and walking and walking, marking off the edges of this rich, virgin soil that will soon be his. He keeps going and going, as far as he possibly can before making a turn.
Though covering a lot of land, he soon realises that he must get back or he’ll have none. Drained, exhausted – he had walked so far – he sees that he has no time to lose, that the sun is almost setting, and if he’s not back right away all will be lost.
He runs as fast as he can, in a panic that it will be too late. Then, just as he gets close to reaching the point where he started, Pahom collapses – dead.
Tolstoy ended his story like this: His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from his head to his heels was all the land he needed.
What a powerful symbol for how we can get so caught up in the things of this world – and for what? Six feet of ground?
Is that where we, ultimately, are going?
That’s another reason why we have been given the fourth commandment. So we can live and experience the spiritual rest that we have in Jesus, so we can take time to stop and recharge, and so we can remember not only where we came from but where we are going to.
By keeping the Sabbath, we reveal that we are not slaves to work, we are not slaves to making money, we are not slaves to the things of this world. And if we are working so hard that we are burning out, then whether we admit it or not – we are slaves.
In contrast, keeping the Sabbath is our declaration – a declaration of freedom, of the freedom we have in Christ, who promised us: