The bottom line: A paradigm-shifting look into the holiness of time that illuminates an alternative, theocentric reality.
The Sabbath seeks to find meaning of the weekly celebration for the servant of The Lord in a contemporary setting. This quest does not inject new meaning into the observance but persuades readers to take a step back and earnestly contemplate how an eternal God invites those whom He loves to sanctify time, who in turn therefore demonstrate their love for God.
In my opinion, the greatest value of this book is that it challenges you to rethink the reality you have become accustomed to and to scrutinize the assumptions that animate the spiritual status quo. The modern world focuses its attention on gaining more space—that is, things that occupy literal space such as money, land and resources—yet time is what stands above that space. The realm of space turns people and things into commodities. The realm of time invites people to simply be and begins to understand the vast ocean of limitless time that characterizes God. The book elucidates that an eternal God made a certain segment of time holy, and thus explains how we can build a sanctuary of time—a figurative structure concerned with internal convictions and sacred moments that is separate and distinct from a world of outward possessions.
The Sabbath certainly is not a book that prescribes specific behaviors, nor does it burden the reader with endless spiritual rules for Sabbath observance. Rather, it equips the reader in the process of formation so that proper meaning and understanding can be found. It is from this stance that individuals are left to decide how to execute their Sabbath freedom.
Despite the fact that this book is written from the Jewish perspective, Heschel draws upon timeless Biblical truth in order to make readers aware of God’s imperative in drawing our attention to an alternative consciousness. Hence, as a Christian and one who instructs others in Christian doctrine, The Sabbath is readily applicable to contemporary Christianity and will certainly act as a catalyst to in the transformative process that God orchestrates in our lives. It re-centers readers on the peace found in God in the midst of a distracting world—a focus similar, for example, to books such as Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination and Sabbath as Resistance.
Read this book in order to be enlightened, inspired, and energized by a revolutionary new theological imagination.