Sabbath by Dan Allender is part of the Ancient Practices Series. Each book in the series takes one of seven ancient religious practices that are common to the Abrahamic faiths.
Dan’s book on the Sabbath tackles the most ancient religious practice. The Sabbath is given as part of the story of creation; on the seventh day God rests. Dan makes the point that God doesn’t rest because he is tired, but rather so that he may delight in his work. This sets the tone for the rest of the book. The Sabbath is a day to delight in God.
I really like the idea of the Sabbath being a day of delight, when we celebrate our relationship with God and creation. Dan makes keeping the Sabbath holy sound delightful rather than a dismal chore. My struggle with the book is that each time I am ready to read more about how to become delighted by God and the Sabbath, Dan goes back to a description of how our sinful nature prevents us from truly practising the Sabbath.
I have no problem recognizing that our broken relationship with God keeps us from living lives that are what God had in mind when we were created. Sin is a reality in our world and it is almost as old a practice as the Sabbath itself. Yet when we focus too much on the sin and not enough on God’s Grace, we become the legalistic, dour Christians that people expect when they hear “Christian”. Dan’s book keeps hinting at ways that we can become people of joy and delight, but we are returned to judgement over and over.
For those who don’t mind wading through the constant barrage of condemnation of us as a culture and as individuals, this book does offer a glimpse of what could be. Ironically it is a glimpse of what could be if we let go of our legalism and just enjoy our time with God.