SOAP Journal – 04 April 2017 (Numbers 29:7)

Then on the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall humble yourselves; you shall not do any work.

Numbers 29:7

God is reminding the Israelites of their feast days through Moses and it caught my attention that one of the feasts mentions not doing any laborious work while the feast called out in this morning’s verse calls for not [doing] any work. In one instance, work is still possible, just nothing too strenuous. In the other, no work at all. Taking this in the context of the full picture of The Bible, I know that defining what fell under the heading of work became a bit of an obsession for some among the Israelites.

This injunction to not do any work caught my attention for a couple of reasons.

First, because it prefaces the idea of not working with humbling myself. It may seem like the two do not connect, but they most certainly do. In order to stop working altogether, I make myself dependent on someone. It may be that I make myself dependent on the work I did in preparation for the time when I would not be working — this is, in essence, what a retirement account boils down to — or it may be that I make myself dependent on God — far more likely, since I am not much of a planner. Regardless of whether I rely on preparations made beforehand or the provision of God in the moment, I have made myself dependent on something and that dependence makes me vulnerable. If my planning was insufficient to the need, as such planning often is, then belts will be worn tighter. No matter how I do it, to cease from work entirely is to make myself dependent. And that is humbling.

Second, because it stands in contrast to the prohibition against laborious work in the feast earlier that same month. In one instance, the people stop doing the heavy labor while in the other they cease from all work. Again, defining what was and was not work became the obsession of some Israelites and some of us are still running with that obsession today. There are folks who take hobbies and interests to a point that many of us would see them as another job. Putting all of that aside, the point is that sometimes God asks me to keep working, but to lay off the heavy lifting. Other times, God wants me to take my hands off things altogether. Neither is a bad thing. Both are times when God wants to show Himself faithful and strong and able to accomplish what concerns me. In order for that to happen, I need to get out of the way — whether that moving is complete or partial is at God’s sole discretion.

To apply this is straightforward. Where God tells me to stop doing the heavy labor, I need to keep working, but leave the heavy lifting to Him. Where God tells me to move aside, I need to stop trying to do anything and just get out of His way. In both cases, it will humble me to obey. Admitting that God wants me to stop doing hard work or any work at all is going to have that effect. But humility is good. It is to the humble that God gives grace.

Thank You, Father, that there are times when You bid me cease from laboring and times when You tell me to stop working at all. Please gives me eyes to see these times for what they are and a heart that is willing to step aside and let You do what You want to do.

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