After reading a couple of articles regarding the longevity of the modern worship leader:
it seems increasingly important in this current age to note the temptations, dangers, and pitfalls to long-term church work. Working in the church brings many unique challenges and frustrations, especially when working there for an extended period of time. The political and financially sensitive aspects of church atmosphere can quickly wear on a leader.
Church politics may in fact be the most draining of all issues in the church. Interpersonal conflict in a volunteer environment always proves to be destructive because it cannot simply be put down or bottled up by threat of decreased pay, job loss, or negative reinforcement of the sort. It is also highly personal. People choose churches. They choose people as their spiritual family rather than being assigned co-workers or family by birth. So when conflicts arise here and people say and do hurtful things, there can be a much more destructive outcome even than with family or work.
Tight finances are also a big issue for leaders. Doing more with less in a church can become increasingly draining over time. Being unable to achieve goals due to lack of finances is frustrating. And when people are critical in spite of the most valiant of efforts, there is not much motivation to continue.
So how does a church leader cope with these difficulties and remain in church work for a lifetime? The answer is both simple and profound. Their service to the church must not be solely based on feelings of compassion, desire to be a part of an organization, or any other motivation besides a secondary response stemming from a personal relationship with God. John Bevere wrote a book titled, The Bait of Satan, in which he discusses “spiritual wanderers” or “church hoppers” that move from church to church, taking their offense with them. It is easy to run from church to church as a member or as a leader when simply looking for something to be a part of or people to serve. When things go south, there is always another church to “get involved” in or a place where people will “appreciate more.” Eventually these people may altogether leave the greater Church. The only way to serve long-term is to be united with the Lord in prayer and supplication which leads to sanctification and greater submission, allowing service to people to stem from service to God.
How? How? How?
It is easy to simply tell how things should be, but how do we get there?
Surprisingly, or maybe not so much so, God built a weekly stop sign into creation to create an opportunity for us to abide with him completely with 1/7th of our time! I titled this article Sabbath “Rest” because the Hebrew word for rest is Sabbaoth. Kind of redundant, but the Sabbath was created for our joy and pleasure, even before there were such things as religions or nations or races. Our God knew we would need this, so He built it into time itself and ORDERED (yeah I said it) us to rest. This was never a suggestion or hint, it was a command by our very Creator, who knows our internal working and construction better than anyone, to stop and rest/focus on Him once a week. Like a date night!
The Forgotten Commandment
As I grew up, I learned and memorized these Ten Commandments, for they are the very heart of the law God has given us to live by. They are like a mirror, which reveals the flaws within each of us, flaws that we cannot overcome without the power of Christ (Romans 7:7-12). But should we break these laws simply because we have been redeemed? By no means! The law reveals sin, and if we have died to its power and have been made new in Christ, how can we continue to live in it (Romans 6:1-2)? This is the message I grew up with. And it holds absolutely true! The Ten Commandments are the foundation of that law which shows us who we are without Christ. They obviously stand true even today. In every culture we find laws prohibiting murder, stealing, and slander among many other things. In Christianity we find the laws of having only one God, not making any graven images, and not taking the Lord’s name in vain. These laws are woven into our culture and religious thinking like a closely-knit braid.
But there has always been something left out. What happened to the fourth commandment? Honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Do not work on that day or allow anyone within your gates to work. Set it apart as a holy day to the Lord God. Do not buy or sell goods on that day. Where did this teaching go? As I read the verse over and over I was absolutely shocked that I had gone my entire life without ever recognizing this commandment. I must have read it a thousand times but never even once stopped to study it. Why does it say to “remember” it? Why do only the Jews and Seventh Day churches keep this commandment? Why is it never the topic of Bible study? These questions began to flood my mind, and I immediately sought my resources and the counsel of the Holy Spirit to answer them. I found that the Sabbath was a day on which there were certain regulations on what one can and cannot do, but the focus of every law was to redirect the conduct of every day life toward the Lord and to give the human body a much needed rest from the 24-7 mentality that it strives to achieve. There are only a few rules for following the Sabbath: do not work or allow anyone “within your gates” to do so (or within your realm of control: kids, employees, etc.), do not conduct business, and purposefully honor God in everything that you do, not following your own desires or speaking idly. These three are the main rules regarding the Sabbath day.
Sabbath for the Jews
Throughout the Old Testament the Jews faced tests regarding their preservation of the Sabbath. As they kept the Sabbath through their captivity in Egypt, the Pharaoh realized he was losing control over his slaves. They were growing in number, and they refused to work on the Sabbath. Pharaoh became enraged and ordered the Israelites to meet the same quota of making bricks but without being provided any straw with which to make them. This tested the Israelites’ faith in God; because without working on the Sabbath, there was simply no way they could meet that order. When they didn’t meet it, their persecution skyrocketed. This was when God provided deliverance.
Another occasion was the period before their Babylonian captivity. There was a law in the Jewish agricultural system, which called for a rest for the land every seventh year. God gave the Israelites this law to ensure their agricultural productivity (as we now know, the land is more productive when it is given a year to refresh itself every seven years). The Israelites were tested for a period of 430 years. This time period contains 70 Sabbath years, the exact amount of time Israel spent in captivity. God was clearly punishing them for violating the Sabbath (Leviticus 26:32-35, Ezekiel 4:4-8).
In Nehemiah 13:15-22, we find Nehemiah helping to restore Jerusalem. He confronts the leaders about the fact that they are allowing merchants and traders to enter the city and to conduct business on the Sabbath. He tells them that their ancestors were harshly punished by God for the same thing that they were doing. He closed the gates on Friday evening (because God tracks time in days from sundown to sundown, see creation week) and did not reopen them until the Sabbath was over on Saturday evening.
These are all clear examples of how important the Sabbath was to the Jewish people. It wasn’t just a day when they worshipped. It was an entire way of life. The whole week centered on the Sabbath. The sacrifices and workweek as well as their livelihood were all organized around the Sabbath day. Friday was known as the “Day of Preparation,” and Saturday was actually called the Sabbath. Was this simply a Jewish culture that died with Christ on the cross? Was the Sabbath simply a means to an end? I would argue that this is a completely unbiblical perspective; the Bible teaches that the preservation of the Sabbath by Jesus’ followers continued long after his death.
Cultural or Timeless – The Old and New Covenants
As soon as I began to bring this topic up in conversation with people, pastors, and professors whom I held in high esteem, I realized that they all had the same answer. “Well that was just a Jewish tradition,” they said. “The law of keeping the Sabbath was nailed to the cross with the Old Covenant when Christ died for our sins.” The answer rang like a bell over and over again in my ears. I tried to reason with this explanation, but the pieces just wouldn’t fit. If the Sabbath was nailed to the cross, then so must the other nine commandments. If the Ten Commandments were truly part of the Old Covenant, then once Jesus died and eliminated it, there exists no more law. Among the legalized procedures would then be: murder, adultery, theft, lying, idolatry, swearing, etc. We are covered by God’s grace and Christ’s blood, so who is to say we can’t?
This is clearly NOT the message of the Old and New Covenants. The New Covenant, among other things, eliminated the need for sacrifices, because Christ was the ultimate sacrifice. We find that the Jewish temple procedures were no longer needed, but the law (Ten Commandments) was absolutely not nullified, or so then is our sin because the law reflects it! The word covenant simply means an agreement. Israel agreed with God on the terms of their covenant with him (sacrifices, eating regulations, special ceremonies and feasts, etc.). This is known as a bilateral covenant, but the Ten Commandments were much different. They were a set of laws demanded by God, not agreed upon. This is known as a unilateral covenant.
Another thing that never added up with the argument that the Sabbath was just a Jewish law is found in the first word of the fourth commandment. “Remember.” This word is unique in that it apparently brings back a law, which was previously given. Where can that be found? Interestingly enough, in the very beginning of time, the second chapter of Genesis, verses two and three: 2”On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 3And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” This blew my mind. God HIMSELF kept the Sabbath as an example for his people. Is God a man, that he must follow the laws he gives his people? Is he a Jew, that he must keep the covenant with himself? I have debated for countless hours with Atheists and Agnostics over whether or not Creation week actually happened. The reason this is such a difficult argument is simply because there was no one there to experience it or to bear witness to it. By the time Adam was created, everything else had been created except for Eve. Even then, when she was formed from his rib, God put Adam to sleep. The only testament we have to the week of Creation is the preservation of the Sabbath itself. Therefore, if the Sabbath is eliminated, so is the sole memorial to the Creator.
It is also misleading to represent the Sabbath as a law defined by regulations, legalism, and self-denial. If the Sabbath was given on the seventh day of creation, then it was given before sin and before law. This fact in and of itself frees the Sabbath of any legalistic approach as well as reveals the proper perspective in observing it and thus the beauty in doing so. It was a part of creation, given FOR mankind to meet their needs, not given for the sake of law (Mark 2:27).
The keeping of the Sabbath was not a Jewish tradition; for if it was, then every man from Adam to Terah (Abraham’s father) was actually a Jew. This is impossible, because the covenant, which designated the Jews (Hebrews technically because they were not called Jews until they were given the land of Judea) as God’s chosen people, was given only to Abraham and his descendants. No, the Sabbath was a command for God’s people, those who seek his will, not those of a certain nationality. When God gave the command to honor the Sabbath, he gave it to set his people apart from the world, not to keep a sacred tradition.
Jesus and the Sabbath
When we look at the life of Christ and what he had to say about the Sabbath, we are able to more clearly see what it was that God wanted in sanctifying this day. In Matthew 12, the Pharisees approach him, because his disciples were hungry and were harvesting wheat to eat on the Sabbath. We know that the Pharisees had become very prideful and legalistic in their views of God and his laws. The Sabbath was no different. They had taken the law of not working on the Sabbath and formulated their own sub laws. For example, they considered it a sin to exert too much energy on the Sabbath and therefore were only allowed to walk a certain number of steps on that day. Jesus quickly responds by quoting a passage from Hosea 6. He asked, “Are not the priests on duty in the Temple allowed to work on the Sabbath?” The Lord allows us to do good for each other on the Sabbath, even if it is work.
In the next passage, Jesus heals a man with a deformed hand on the Sabbath. Of course the Pharisees are there to criticize him once again for working on the Sabbath. They ask, “Does the law permit a person to work by healing on the Sabbath?” Once again we see that the Pharisees were so caught up in the legalism of the law that they forgot what it was intended for. Jesus responds again by explaining that the law permits a man to do good on the Sabbath, even if it involves work. But here we see a distinction. The work of Jesus was not for personal gain in any way. He made no money on that day nor did he entertain himself. His disciples did not harvest grain and sell it. They harvested it and ate it to do the ministry of God. Everything Jesus did on the Sabbath was in honor of God and drew people’s focus toward him. This is the true way that the Sabbath is to be honored, not out of legalism and following a list of rules but rather to better focus on God and do good for his people.
Sabbath for the Gentiles
Soon after Jesus’ death he ascends to heaven with the disciples looking on. He then decrees the Great Commission, calling the disciples to a life of service and sharing the good news of his life, death, and resurrection with the rest of the world. Immediately after his ascension, the disciples return to Jerusalem to find a replacement for Judas (Acts 1). The next mention of the disciples is on the “Day of the Pentecost.” In Leviticus 23:15, we find reference to this day. It is seven Sabbaths counted from the day of the offering of the first fruits, the Passover, which beautifully represents Christ as our perfect sacrifice and first fruits of those who will later ascend with him to glory. Therefore the Pentecost is 50 days from the Passover, the day Christ died. Coincidentally, this places the day of the disciples first recorded meeting after ordaining Matthias and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Sabbath.
We know from studying the book of Acts that Paul always kept the Sabbath. In Acts 13:14, 17:2, and 18:4 we are made aware that It was Paul’s custom to attend services on the Sabbath as well as to preach and meet with believers on that day. Over and over again the Jews who refused to accept Christ as the Messiah tried to indict Paul but could never find any grounds on which to accuse him (Acts 23:9, 24:14, 25:8-10, and 26:22). Knowing how the Jewish leaders meticulously observed the Sabbath and believed it to be a sacred, holy day, if Paul was not keeping it to the fullest merit of its requirements, would they not have brought this as a huge allegation against him?
I have often encountered Colossians 2, specifically verse 16, when conversing with fellow believers about the Sabbath. On the surface, this passage seems to say that it is no longer necessary to keep “Sabbaths” as holy days. This is where the phrase “nailed to the cross” came from. When an in depth study is done on this passage we find that the special Sabbaths verse 16 is referring to actually has to do with the special ceremonies and feasts the Jews set up with the Mosaic Covenant. See, the Sabbath for the Jews included much more than a day. As I mentioned earlier, there is a critical difference between the bilateral Mosaic Covenant and the unilateral Ten Commandments. The keeping of the weekly Sabbath was a requirement of the law itself, but there were special regulations written in the Mosaic covenant for specifically Jews to follow. These included letting the land rest every seven years and not planting or harvesting crops, celebrating every 49th year as a special Sabbath year, and holding monthly feasts for certain Sabbath days. These are the rituals and ceremonies spoken of in Colossians; for, as I have previously stated, if the Sabbath was done away with at the cross then so was the rest of the law, giving us freedom to lie, cheat, steal, murder, and commit adultery. Although we are free of the law in the sense that we are not under its condemnation, we are still called to live by it. Those who are forgiven love the law of Christ and live in peace (Psalm 119:165). If you robbed a bank and were caught, but the judge gave you a full pardon, does that give you the right to rob another bank? Certainly not! It never eliminated the law or your accountability to it, but because of grace you have been pardoned. In fact it is likely that because of that grace you will never choose to rob a bank again! It is the same with the law of God. The old covenant was what was nailed to the cross, not the law itself. The law was simply fulfilled, granting those who choose it pardon, not immunity. As the book of Colossians states later on in the same chapter (2:23), “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.” Whatever was nailed to the cross must then be something or multiple things that do not directly assist in the conquering of our sin nature. To say that setting aside every seventh day of the week to focus on God and forget about ourselves and the distractions of this world does not help to conquer our sin nature is absolutely foolish!
There are many people who claim specific verses and passages to mean that the Sabbath day was changed from the seventh day (Saturday) to another day (usually Sunday). Passages throughout the book of Acts as well as the rest of the Bible show the believers meeting together, preaching, and taking the Lord’s Supper on days besides the Sabbath. As Acts 2:42-47 states, the believers came together in unity to worship and fellowship every day! Not just Sunday or Wednesday or even Sabbath. When we look at a certain issue or topic in the Bible we must look at it in the context of the chapter, book, section, and in turn the context of the entire storyline of the Bible. When we take sound bytes of Scripture out of context, we begin down a dangerous road of allowing the Bible to mean whatever we want it to mean. This is known as Existentialism or even later Post-Modernism. Even someone who does not believe in God or the Bible can take his own truth from it and make peace with it according to his own will. We can easily prove any point we want to in the Bible when we take it out of context and ignore the message as a whole. The pieces of a puzzle could be easily forced together to make all of the pieces fit, but when it is viewed as one united puzzle as opposed to a bunch of individual pieces, the shape is contorted and the image is broken and unclear. It is the same way with the context of Scripture. Yes, the disciples worshipped and met together on various days of the week, but if God were going to change something as fundamental as one of the very Ten Commandments, would he not have made it as clear and resolute as the ceasing of sacrifices? And if the Sabbath truly was changed to another day, why is it that that day is not kept in the same way that the original Sabbath was? The Bible in its entirety depicts the converted Gentiles as Sabbath keeping, God honoring believers. It cannot be found in the Bible that God changed the Sabbath or no longer requires it to be kept the way that he ordered it; that is found in politics and history.
Where Did It Go? And Why Sunday?
Clearly, the mainstream Christian church, whether Catholic or Protestant, for whatever reason, has broken away from the fourth commandment. How and why did this happen? It began with the persecution of the Jews by the Roman rule in 132-135 AD.
When Rome began to raise the level of persecution of the Jewish people, they began searching out Jews through their worship and remembrance of the Sabbath. As was intended when it was created, the honoring of the Sabbath day set them apart from other people, so they were easily spotted. Although Christians were much different than the Jews in their beliefs, they began to be associated with the Jews because of the similarity of worship on that day. The Christians began to justify a change of “Sabbath” through the celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Sunday. They called this the “Christian Sabbath.” This was not a worldwide change but rather stayed within the limits of the Roman jurisdiction, concentrated in Rome. A quote by Greek philosopher Socrates in the fifth century emphasizes this point. “…For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries (the Lord’s Supper) on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.” *1* Another philosopher, Sozomen, said, “The people of Constantinople and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” *2* These prominent men of the fifth century clearly depict that the world at that time followed the Sabbath laws but that the Christians of the Roman Empire, especially concentrated in the city of Rome itself, had ceased to honor it. This places the change somewhere in the fourth century AD.
In 312 AD, the leader of the Roman Empire, Constantine, claimed to have a vision of a cross above the sun, and after hearing a voice from heaven he became a Christian. His persistent worship of the sun god and new claim to Christianity was a political move, which he planned to use to strengthen his empire. He had a plan to unite the two major religious groups of his people, the sun worshippers and the Christians (Interestingly enough the name “Sunday” actually originated from the fact that it was the day dedicated to the pagan worship of the sun god.). Since both groups were worshipping on Sunday (note the Christians had changed from Sabbath to Sunday to avoid Roman persecution by association with the Jews), he designed a law to dedicate that day as a day of worship. On March 7, 321 AD, he enforced a law that closed every work place each week on Sunday, making it easier for his people to worship. *3* These laws have evolved through the centuries but are now known as the recently terminated “Blue Laws.” As Solomon put it, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Soon the capital of the Roman Empire moved from Rome to Constantinople (330 AD) Since Rome was such a huge empire, its church grew exponentially. The church there soon became what we know as the Catholic Church. In 364 AD, the leaders had a meeting known as the Council of Laodicea. There, 59 Canon Laws were issued. Among them was a blatant amendment to the fourth commandment. It stated, “Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day (as they referred to Sunday); and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.” *4* Anathema literally means to excommunicate. So now, due to the law of man with no biblical context, the church has not only moved away from the observance of the fourth commandment, but has actually made it illegal.
The reason churches today worship together on Sunday is not truly because they believe that the Sabbath was changed (or they would observe Sunday the way the Jews observe Saturday), and it is usually not even because Christ resurrected on Sunday (although that is a great reason to worship Sunday IN ADDITION to keeping the Sabbath). The reason our churches worship on Sunday is because of tradition. Our parents worshipped then, and so did their parents, and so did their parents. It seems to me that the Bible speaks very clearly about the Sabbath and about the way in which God wants us to honor that day, as he did himself, but we as a church try so hard to make the Bible say something that will line up with what we want to believe that we forget that we are supposed to be lining up with what it says regardless of ANYTHING else, including tradition! I am guilty of it just as much as the next guy. For years I glanced over passages regarding the Sabbath time and time again without hesitation; but now I feel the tugging of the Holy Spirit on my heart regarding this matter, and it is my responsibility as a Christian, not to impose my conviction on anyone else, but to impress it by sharing my knowledge and thoughts and allowing the Holy Spirit to move how he chooses. I agree wholeheartedly that the church should join together on Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Christ but not at the cost of forgetting to keep the Sabbath day holy as the Lord commanded.
The Sabbath has not been changed. It has been eliminated. A simple twist of Scripture has led way to one of Satan’s greatest accomplishments, the destruction of the sole memorial to Creation week and to the Creator himself through the eradication of the observance of the Sabbath.
The Delight of the Sabbath
I would like to close by discussing a fundamental flaw found often in the past and even in the present observance of the Sabbath. The Pharisees fell into this trap, as have many well-meaning Christians. The laws of God can easily be observed and at the same time rendered completely powerless. To simply follow a rule without cause is to subject oneself to the law in and of itself rather than a plan by which the law was created. When we follow the laws of love (love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself) we are not simply subjecting ourselves to God (although this is important), we are accepting his invitation to make ourselves part of his plan. The Pharisees were found to be following many laws but not with the right motive of heart, and we can often be found doing the same thing. In Matthew 15, Jesus confronted the Pharisees about their “age-old traditions.” He revealed to them that for the sake of their own law-keeping traditions, they violate and even cancel the very Word of God. He then goes so far as to say that they are the ones Isaiah spoke of when he said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29:13) It is often that we observe a law simply to observe it but have the wrong heart or even no heart in doing so. It is the same with the Sabbath. To keep the Sabbath by every law in the Bible but not take joy in the Lord on that day is the same as breaking it completely. The Sabbath is about taking our focus off of the events of every day life and to redirect that focus on the Lord. The laws he gives concerning it are nothing more than some assistance to help us do it. If we don’t have to work and we can’t conduct business then we can better focus on God and his majesty.
Many people become very legalistic in their keeping of the Sabbath; some go so far as to say that those who do not keep it will not enter the Kingdom of God. This is as much of a fabrication as the idea that one would go to Hell for lying or dishonoring their parents. The Sabbath, just like every law, is impossible to keep perfectly. That is the point of the law, to reveal to us our inadequacy. We must do our best to keep it, not only for the Lord but also for our own well-being. Questions arise such as: Can I watch TV? Or can I go swimming? Or should I go to the amusement park? What exactly does working on the Sabbath entail? The thing that makes the Sabbath different from other laws is that it is somewhat subjective. If the point of Sabbath is to focus attention on the Lord, then there is one underlying question that should answer many of these questions. Each time I am confronted with a do or don’t do type of question regarding the Sabbath, I ask myself, “Will this activity draw my focus more on the Lord and beholding his majesty, or will it draw my mind somewhere else?” This question has assisted me greatly in my efforts to honor the Sabbath. I am sure that I have faulted many times and betrayed the Lord by dishonoring him on his holy day, as I have on other days, but as in all things he knows the motives of the heart beyond visible actions. For example, what do police, nurses, doctors, and firefighters do about not working on the Sabbath? Although they might believe in keeping the Sabbath, doesn’t the world need these people to work on that day? There are “what ifs” that can be formulated regarding any moral law. It can be difficult to discern what to do. Some of them decide to donate their pay on that day to the church, homeless, or missions. Others simply choose not to work, while others believe that their work is benefiting others and justify it that way. There is no blanket rule to clear up these questions. That is why a close relationship with God is so essential. He will always guide us step by step in our decisions when we choose to follow him. He will always teach us when the motive of our heart is to do what is right. We may not always get it completely right, but we must always desire to honor him and to choose to do what we feel is right.
Out of all of the passages regarding the Sabbath, Isaiah 58:13-14 gives us the purest and most beautiful description of what God intended for his people on that special day. “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the Lord’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything that you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. Then the Lord will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor, Jacob. I, the Lord, have spoken.” Since we, as Gentiles, are now spiritual Jerusalem (Psalm 87, Romans 2:28-29, 9:6-7, and Galatians 3:28-29), we have been given the same inheritance as Jacob. The Sabbath was made for us! We have been given a gift of a day of rest every week! The Creator knew that the world would operate on a 24/7 mentality, and he knew that we would need a day away from it all, a day to set aside for him. How amazing is it that he would clear our schedules FOR us by creating a day on which we are not supposed to do anything but rest and focus on him? God invented and took the first vacation on creation week, and he calls us to do the same EVERY week! Ever since I began my study and research of the Sabbath, I have found it nothing but joy. Sure, there have been a lot of tests like telling the boss that you can’t work on Saturday or telling those whom you love yet do not agree with the Sabbath that you cannot go with them to get ice cream on Saturday, but the Lord blesses those who seek him. I have found great peace in knowing each week that if I can just make it to the Sabbath, the Lord will give me rest. It has truly become my favorite day of the week.
If a church worker wants to stay motivated and recharged week by week, month by month, and year by year, he/she needs this day, this gift, this prescription that was prescribed at the dawn of time.