Back in February, I set the tone and direction for this blog by quoting from Jeremiah 6:16: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls’” (ESV).
Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s new book, 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life (Tyndale 2012), officially released yesterday, comes from a similar perspective of rediscovering an ancient path that has been lost in recent decades: the practice of a weekly Sabbath rest.
It would be easy to write a book on Sabbath rest that majors on law and guilt; 24/6 is not that book. Instead it paints a picture of Sabbath rest that makes you ache for its observance in your own soul. It is an easy, enjoyable read, that is no less challenging for being easy to read.
In the first part of the book, Sleeth describes how the sacredness of a weekly day of rest, which was once nearly universal, has been replaced by our frenetic, 24/7, always on, always connected culture. Next, he describes from medical, psychological, and spiritual perspectives why a day of rest is so important. In the third and fourth sections, Sleeth helps the reader envision what a 24/6 lifestyle could look like today and offers some practical steps for the reader to take toward this ancient pathway.
One of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the unique perspective Dr. Sleeth brings to the topic from his experience as a former emergency room physician and hospital chief of staff. The book is filled with stories from his days in the ER—some heartwarming, many cringe-worthy—all of which function as modern-day parables about the value of rest.
Yet these anecdotes are not the foundation of this book. Dr. Sleeth is also a capable expositor of Scripture who presents both biblical story and theology in a way that is fresh, imaginative, and true to the heart of the Gospel. This riff on the seventh day of creation, one of my favorite quotes from the book, shows a bit of what I’m talking about:
“Rest shows us who God is. He has restraint. Restraint is restraining from doing everything that one has the power to do. We must never mistake God’s restraint for weakness. The opposite is true. God shows restraint; therefore, restraint is holy.” (p. 33).
24/6 is a powerful cultural critique, addressing issues such as consumerism, rootlessness, anxiety, and control, but it is much more than a critique. It offers a powerful, compelling vision of shabbat shalom–the peace and wellness that flows from a sabbath day of rest.
And if that’s not enough, the book includes a foreword by Dr. Eugene Peterson.
I heartily recommend and endorse Dr. Matthew Sleeth’s call for a renewal of this ancient observance, a return to the ancient pathway of resting in Yahweh.
(source: Kevin Scott Writes/Sustainable Christianity – thank you Kevin!)
Disclosure: The author of this article received a complimentary advance review copy of this book from the author’s organization, BlessedEarth.org. The link to the Amazon book page is an Amazon affiliate link. If you purchase the book after clicking on the link, the author of this article will receive a very small percentage of the profit.