Jesaja 58 en leef 58

Jesaja 58 is een pittige tekst, waarin de bijbelse profeet oproept om te zorgen voor armen en verdrukten. Met de film Leef58 wordt dat indringend in beeld gebracht.

Maar er zit ook een andere, misschien wel verrassende, component in:




Devotion from Caroline Powell, The Warehouse, South Africa

It is impossible to be a faithful student of the Bible, and miss the idea of Sabbath. It is introduced right up front in the creation story, it is written into the ancient laws applied to both people and land, practiced by the people of God in the old and new testaments, spoken of throughout the prophets and referenced regularly in the life of Jesus.


Across the globe and even in societies that are mostly non-religious, a day of rest in the week is still common practice, a nod to the inherent knowledge that as humans, no matter how driven we are, we know that we cannot work without ceasing and remain healthy.


But how well do we actually understand the concept of Sabbath rest? How well have we grasped the spirit of Sabbath and not just the law or habit of Sabbath?

In the first version of the creation story, each time a new part of the earth came into being, it is followed by this phrase:


And God saw that it was good.”

The account of the completion of creation is this: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 1:31-2:3)


It could be easy to read these words and interpret that God rested, because God was tired. Tired, fatigued, and overworked, from all that creating! However, a Judeo-Christian understanding of God as all-powerful cannot faithfully imagine an overworked, burnt-out God.


Could it not be that instead of understanding that God rested after creating, we understand that God rested in creation? Resting in the goodness of the creation work. Resting in the beauty.  Resting in the completion.

How often do we only stop working because we have to? Because we were so extremely tired we just stop and flop? Is this the image we get of the creator of the universe? Rather, if we are to understand the use of the word rest in the Hebrew it means “ceased to work”. Everything  complete, finished, whole. Good. Very Good.


God is continually creating and redeeming and restoring and making new. While we in our human understanding of tasks and the world barely ever get to stop and say it is complete, we do partner with this creator who completes things.


Should we then not treat Sabbath that way – a chance to look upon the mission of God in the world and the small section of work that God has provided for us to do in it and say: “it is good”? A chance to stop and say, that the author and perfecter of our faith, the one who will bring every good work to completion, who is in the process of completing a redeeming work in the world through us, invites us to stop on a regular basis, perhaps even during the day and appreciate and affirm the work.


As we respond to the calling to integral mission, are often captured by the truths and challenges of Isaiah 58 that asks: “what does true fasting require?” But do we stop reading after the list that tells us to: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, set the prisoner free, rebuild the ancient ruins? In addition to all the hard work of honouring Gods justice in those essential ways, it is also advises to “call the Sabbath a delight”.

A day when we delight in ceasing from work.  A day to lift our eyes from the strategic planning, ministry opportunities, sermon rounds, workshops, writing and work of rebuilding the ancient ruins and restoring the streets that have long lay in waste… and just affirm that despite the many deep injustices and the many not-yet-good things of this world, we can also look upon the work of our hands, in partnership with creator God and say “it is good”.