Growing up, I believed that Christians “don’t drink, smoke, or chew, or go with girls who do.” Never once did someone tell me that stopping by the grocery store on the way home from church was a “wicked thing.” But that’s exactly what Nehemiah tells the people of Judah who were buying, selling, and going about their normal work on the Sabbath. To our modern ears this may seem strange. We might ask, “What’s the big deal?”
First, God commanded Sabbath keeping. He rested from creation on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2–3), and when He led the people out of Israel, He established the seventh day as holy (Ex. 20:8), a day to rest and not to work. In an agrarian society, setting aside an entire day not to work meant that all the things that needed to be done to ensure a good harvest would either have to be done on a different day or not at all. Not to work was an act of trust in the Lord. It was saying in effect, “I know God cares for me and will provide for me. I trust you, Lord, to take care of my needs.”
In Exodus 16:22–30, God’s people were instructed to gather twice as much manna on the sixth day and none on the seventh day. They had to trust that there would be enough food on day six to last two days. Remember what many of them did that first Sabbath? They left their tents in search of manna! In the same way, the people in Nehemiah’s day disobeyed the Lord by working on the Sabbath. They didn’t trust God to care for them.
>> Most of us are firm believers in planning ahead and preparing well. But sometimes that might lead us to depend too much on ourselves and not enough on God. Pray about it. Consider how you can trust in God to care for your needs.
What does it mean for us to be responsible within the framework of Your providence? How do we make decisions and take action within Your will? Father, we ask for joy and conviction in our duties.