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Muslims, Anglicans Recognize Sabbath’s Blessings

Muslims, Anglicans Recognize Sabbath’s Blessings

Recent media reports have featured appreciation for the Sabbath from a Muslim state minister in the United Arab Emirates to a news publication of the Church of England.

The Times of Israel reported, “A senior United Arab Emirates official on [September 25] hailed the ‘wisdom of Shabbat’ [Hebrew for Sabbath] and said she recognized many similarities between Judaism and Islam.”

Shamma Al Mazrui, minister of state for youth affairs, highlighted “various concepts of the Jewish religion, such as the virtue of repentance and introspection during the High Holy Days. She also referred to the recent normalization agreement between the UAE and Israel, expressing hope that it would usher in a new era of ‘radical tolerance and radical love in our region and the world.’”

The youngest-ever cabinet official in the Emirates, Mazrui also added, “While I’m young and restless myself, I’m coming to see that stillness and peace is the key to, well, just about everything in our lives: to be a better parent, to be a better artist, to be a better spouse, to be a better investor, to be a better athlete, to be a better scientist, to be a better neighbor, to be a better even human being and to unlock all that we’re capable of in this life. And this, I see, is the wisdom of [the Sabbath]. This is the power of the pause, which makes really the invisible visible.”

Church Times Celebrates Sabbath—Sort Of

Then, on October 2, Church Times writer Pat Ashworth examined how Anglicans “are experiencing [the] Sabbath” on a day other than the seventh day of the week. The Church Times is one of the oldest newspapers to report from an Anglican perspective.

Ashworth began with the story of John Mark Comer—a pastor in Portland, Oregon, who was burned out by age 33. While Comer was the only one in the article to mention the Sabbath “as ‘a gift from the Creator,’” he also made a connection to the emancipation of the Israelites from Egypt, referring to Deuteronomy 5:15: Said the pastor, “Sabbath is an act of rebellion. Globalism and capitalism have made slaves of both rich and poor. By [practicing] Sabbath, we can play a small part in justice for the world. Sabbath is like a guerrilla war tactic against shopping and surfing the web.”

Ashworth also quoted Dr. Mark Scarlata, who wrote a book called Sabbath Rest: The Beauty of God’s Rhythm for a Digital Age. The book emphasizes a one-day-per-week disconnect from the electronic world. Scarlata’s “sabbath needed to include reconnecting to the natural world: going for a walk or a bike ride: ‘Ceasing from activity one day a week can remind us that, as human beings, we are intimately connected to the rhythm of God’s creation, and charged with giving it a rest.’”

Next came a short discourse on the retired Rev. Geoff Hollingsworth, who thinks of Sunday as Sabbath and devotes it to spending time with family and friends: “We … don’t do household jobs, go to work, or into shops. … It is about quality time to be with each other.”

The True Purpose of the Sabbath

So what is the purpose of the Bible Sabbath? Mazrui believes the Sabbath to be the key to unlocking human potential and a link to uniting two very different people and religions. Comer thinks of it as a weapon against an economic system. To Scarlata, it is an homage to nature, and to Hollingsworth, quality time with people he loves.

Interestingly enough, the scriptural reason for the Sabbath—as a day of rest and way of connecting with God—was rarely mentioned in either article, if at all. The Bible explains: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). The Sabbath is a day you set aside to “honor [God], not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words” (Isaiah 58:13); it is a day to “delight yourself in the LORD” (v. 14). It was made “to be a sign between [us] and [God], that [we] might know that [He is] the LORD who sanctifies [us]” (Ezekiel 20:12).

Without the acknowledgement of God as our Creator, the Sabbath day is meaningless. If God is not made the focal point of the Sabbath, then the Sabbath easily becomes just another useful tool for humanity, a conduit to a fast from media or to reconnect with family. But while those are wonderful habits to possess, God did not design for those activities to be the end goal of the Sabbath. Rather, those make up just a few of the blessings that result from worshiping our Creator.

When we observe the Bible Sabbath in the manner in which God instructed us to, the Sabbath becomes about God’s relationship to us instead. It ceases to become the day that we decided to worship God or to “unplug” or to socialize; it becomes about the day that God set aside, the seventh day, and the reason He set it aside and its significance to Him—and therefore, to us. It is in this way that we will truly be transformed into godly men and women. We will be united but under God alone. We will appreciate God through His beautiful creation; we will love one another, even our enemies. How? We will not be looking to self but praising the glory of God.

Our free, online Bible study “The Lost Day of History” will give you the information you need to understand why not only the Sabbath is important but also the specific day—the seventh day. Why not check it out now?

This article contributed by Mark A. Kellner
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