The command to take a Sabbath day every week and rest cannot be properly understood apart from these words, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of slavery". Coming out of Egypt into the promised land required a change in how they viewed productivity and freedom. Egypt was the epicenter of modern culture and technology. The biggest city. The best homes. The pyramids. All this built on the backs of ever harder working slaves. The Jews were given quotas of how many bricks they were to produce in a day. If they did not make quota or complained Pharoe would beat then and increase the quota. Seven days a week they worked to produce more and more and more.
Exodus 5:10-14 (NIV) 10 Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, "This is what Pharaoh says: 'I will not give you any more straw. 11 Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.'" 12 So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. 13 The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, "Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw." 14 The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh's slave drivers were beaten and were asked, "Why didn't you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?"
For us, coming out of Egypt and into a new place of freedom means rejecting the voice of the worlds fastest and most demanding economy that tells us "more bricks less straw". Productivity at all cost often means doing more with less.
But can we do more with less rest? Or do we actually become less productive if we do not get regular times of rest? "But if I can just get the overtime we can get that bigger, nicer condo down on the nile". Really? What does it matter to have "better" things when you are too tired and stressed to really enjoy them? In the long run we are not more productive with out a Sabbath anyway. Without proper rest we break down physically, emotionally, and spiritually and begin to lose our abilty to be fruitful in all areas of our lives. You can even see this is agriculture. Of course, God already knew this. I will discuss this tomorrow.