November 3, 2009
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
One of the most surprising things Pam and I found during out travels to Israel was the special Sabbath elevators.
All day long they go from the bottom floor to the top floor, from the top floor to the bottom floor. And they open up and stop at every floor in between.
When we first got on such an elevator, we thought some young child had gotten on and pushed all the buttons.
Then we figured out the rule. The Jewish law, halacha, says it is work to push a button on the Sabbath. People are not supposed to work on the Sabbath, so no button pushing is allowed. Those who need an elevator to get back to their condo or apartment have to take the stairs, or wait for someone to push the button for them, or . . . well, there was no other choice. Not until the fellow invented the elevator that stopped on every floor.
Until recently. Last month a rabbinical ruling came down which said these self-running elevators were also a violation of the law because the weight of the passengers increases the amount of electricity needed to power the lift.
Ninety-nine-year-old Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is the scholar who made the controversial decision about elevators. It was not his last. Last September he decreed Jews could not wear Crocs (the shoes) on the Day of Atonement because they were too comfy for this serious day of fasting.
Now I share this not to criticize or disparage. Indeed, on one level I greatly respect any group of people who are so deeply concerned with following their faith and doing right.
On the other hand, I rejoice in the freedom the Savior has given to me and all those who follow Him. Jesus' fulfilling of the laws we have broken has set us free from the condemnation of those laws.
Now, in thanksgiving to the Savior, we are forgiven and saved and freed to live a life of thanksgiving and appreciation.
In short, our lives are no longer lived fulfilling ongoing obligations; they are filled with heartfelt gratitude for our blood-bought, God-given liberty.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, once we were under sin's rule and conviction. Now, because of Jesus' perfect life, we have been set free. May the Holy Spirit direct our gladdened hearts to live our days in gratitude and thanks for this divine gift. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries