Work, Work, Work.
Mark Twain once mused concerning it saying, “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.”
I suppose that goes along with the old adage that if you love what you do you’ll never work another day in your life.
I see this best applied with TV travel show hosts who literally get to travel the world for a living, a La Rick Steves on PBS.
I have also seen some people that are making a living on YouTube talking about their passions; with enough knowledge and skilled entertainment as to draw a big enough audience to make decent advertising revenue.
But none of these success stories would ever suggest it’s just a vacation replete of pitfalls and difficulties.
Even those who love what they do, whether they are in the medical service industry, government work, private sector service and management, military and what have you…all their careers have upsides and downsides.
For God’s people in the Old Testament today; work, work, work…at times reached the lowest of downsides and the highest of upsides.
Initially in Exodus 20 God set about to address work with a day of rest.
This command was given in the mid 14 century BC just after they had escaped slavery under Pharaoh.
In Exodus 20:11 God reminded them of creation and how he labored 6 days and himself rested on the 7th.
Just as they toiled in Egypt, so likewise they would observe a day Holy to the Lord in order to rest as well.
So they did, methodically and completely one day each week from their labor to recover completely for the next weeks work.
It was a day hundreds of years in the making.
When Joseph was in Egypt 3 ½ centuries before, there was no such slavery or even labor for the Hebrew People.
Egyptian History apart from the Bible records their presence and their sometimes competition with the Native Egyptians.
The competition finally grew so fierce the Egyptians decided to do something about it.
Exodus 1:8-13 continues the historical account,
8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.
So began the first of holocausts for the Hebrew people that we all know would be repeated again and again in history in haunting fashion.
So rest for the Hebrews after what could have been as much as a generation in constant slavery…
…was long overdue for God’s people.
In today’s account, 40 years later we see the mighty work of the Lord, and His command to rest, shift ever so imperceptibly.
While the reminder of bondage in Egypt remains, never to be forgotten; it is long over, and the emphasis shifts from not only the required rest, but now first and foremost a day, “…discharged by abstaining demonstrably from productive labor, and symbolically handing the day back to God.”
(The Old Testament Library; Deuteronomy, A Commentary: The Westminster Press ©1966 Gerhard Von Rad. Pg. 58)
No longer does God remind them of His Rest in creation, but makes sure this is not a day of profit for themselves, but rather a particular day dedicated to Him alone.
He has given them rest from their enemies all around, now it was time to recognize Him for it.
And for the people of God, that remained little changed until approximately 1200 years later, when the Christians would observe the day of the Lord on the Day Jesus Rose from the Dead.
I suppose if you’re gonna make a change that big, the resurrection of our Lord is an acceptable reason for it!
Today, God’s people may not be as dedicated to this day as our ancestors were in the days fresh out of slavery in Egypt, and our account today.
Rather we have harkened back to our rest from our labors, and not so much as dedicating this day to the Lord.
We stood idly by when Sunday activities and sporting events began to be scheduled and even missed worship to join them.
We looked away when the Gulf Streams and the Winnebago’s took over the highways to destinations unknown, but rarely into the church parking lots.
Then we barely blinked our eyes when our children were all of sudden camping on the weekend, playing their tournaments on Sundays, and seeing their favorite circus and or live cartoon character entertainment take on the free Sunday Slot
Oh we tried to accommodate the culture by moving worship to Mondays or Thursdays, surely they will dedicate that day to the Lord!
But the number of people worshiping God did not go up, they just went out, rest was more important than the revealed God in their midst.
Rest assured; despite the reality of our culture dedicating little to God these days, Jesus still died for those sins and dedicates this day to us!
A Sabbath dedicated to the Lord, is a day where our divine Jesus is dedicated to us!
This day will always be the day when Jesus does what we need the most.
He does what no sporting franchise can ever do, even if it improves their bottom line!
He takes us where no camper can, regardless of the whimsical Winnebago’s commercial promises.
He raises up a child in a way that no coach or camp or scout troop ever could.
He gives us His Timeless Word, His sacrifice on the cross and His eternal dwelling.
Through the devotion to God’s Holy, inspired and inerrant Word He opens our eyes to the inherent evils of ourselves, the world and the Devil Himself.
He shows us the way to truth and life in Him!
He guides us daily through the all-encompassing work of His’ Holy Spirit who will never let our sins injure us because the Spirit keeps us in Christ’s Holy Church. (LC. Art. 2:  Concordia Triglotta 1921)
And Jesus was sacrificed on the Cross for all those sins so we are no longer forced to live in service to this world but rather in the shade of His’ Grace.
THIS IS WHAT A DAY DEDICATED TO GOD LOOKS LIKE.
Not a day where we come to worship Him; by saying what we want, praying the way we feel and singing like we want to…rather it is a day when He dedicates this day to Himself, dedicating His life to us.
Forgiving us, strengthening us and bathing us in His Glorious Hope for Life Eternal and instructions for all things temporal.
Since this is God’s dedication to us, why wouldn’t we always dedicate it to Him? AMEN.