In the 1970s the world’s fastest supercomputer cost about seven million dollars and filled a room. It was superfast and superhot, as far as computers went. Only problem? The iPhone 5 is about a million times faster!
For thousands of years, communication never went much faster than the fastest horse. Today, we can yap and gab with just about anyone at, literally, the speed of light. With a few flicks of a finger we can talk to someone overseas in seconds when, even 200 years ago, it would have taken months to have the same conversation.
Everything is faster: faster tablets, faster mobile devices, even faster food. Ten years ago, to get a book you had to go to the bookstore or the library. Today, sitting on a sofa in your house, you can download the same read in seconds.
Which leads to a strange conundrum: though able to do in seconds what used to take weeks, or months or even years—why do we still feel burned out, harried and pressed for time? It should be the opposite, right? Yet who was the last person you heard say, “I just upgraded my ram, and because my computer is so much faster, I have more time to relax”?
Whether traveling by jet plane or by horse and buggy; whether using snail mail or email; whether talking on a landline or an Android—humans by nature just push themselves, sometimes not just to the limit but over the limit as well.
Yes, to rest. Rest, as in taking it easy, rest as in unwinding, rest as in slowing down and chilling out with family and friends in a way that does not allow work and business to interfere.
That’s what the Sabbath commandment is, really, all about: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy,” (Exodus 20:8-11).
Notice, it is a commandment, right up there with not stealing and killing. And that’s because God knows that we need rest, but if left on our own in the hustle and bustle of life we would just keep pushing and pushing until burnout time. In the movie “Wall Street,” the over-ambitious main character, Gordon Gekko, famously said, “Lunch is for wimps.” In other words, we don’t even slow down to eat!
But God said to us, with the Sabbath commandment, enough is enough. Life is more than work, more than making money. Sure, God knows we need to work, knows we need to earn a living. But the Sabbath is a reminder, every week, that there’s more to life than working, than making money and getting ahead. There’s a time to work, and a time to rest—and that rest comes every seventh day.
We should know by now that, no matter how fast we go, or how fast our devices are, it’s never fast enough. Given human nature, it probably never will be, either. Which is why we need rest, why we need the Sabbath and why it still matters.