Growing Inward instead of Outward
Sabbatical Year and Sabbath
For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed. Be attentive to all that I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.
Division among the People
When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
The Unbelief of Those in Authority
Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”
It should have been a dead giveaway that something was off in the spiritual life of the Israelites when they hired “Temple Police”. It reflected a lack of faith in God’s authority and a desire to protect the Jewish leader’s own authority instead. God established a tribe of priests who would oversee and regulate worship in perpetuity, but moving from priests to police was beyond the established Law. It may have even been at the request of Rome.
Either way, I think is true that a movement of God does not need police. Not that we don’t need police, or that police are bad. Simply that those tasked with the spiritual transformation of the world, sharing God’s grace with all people, should not require that kind of protection. We certainly face danger. Our chief protector is God though, not man. Walking into danger without protection is consistently shown as a sign of faith in God and a means of witnessing to the world around us in the Scriptures – both Old and New Testaments.
That doesn’t mean we should throw our lives away foolishly. It means that“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword”, and if we put our faith in our weapons or warriors, we will be sorely disappointed. It truly becomes a form of idolatry if we let it outweigh our trust in God. Instead, those who live by faith, walk by faith, not by sight, which certainly includes the physical protection we can see.
God gave the Hebrew people a gift in the Sabbath command. It was not solely a means of setting His people apart from the rest of the world. It was not intended as a screen to filter out the chosen from the leftovers. It was not designed to be a threat, keeping Israel sheltered or brainwashed into worshipping Him. It as truly meant to be a gift.
Honoring the Sabbath, practicing… doing sabbath is not a passive act. It is a series of varied activities that remind and reconnect us with God. God is the source of our life, and without that connection we fail, fall, and ultimately die. Sabbath is not about separating us. It is about keeping us alive so that we can share that life with the world dying around us.
God created us to grow upward and outward, onward, forward, even down and deep, but He did not call us to grow so inward that nothing could get through to us.