In episode 70 of the Rethinking Scripture Podcast. I take the whole episode to memorialize the passing of the theologian and scholar, Dr. Michael S. Heiser. In 2020, Heiser was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Pancreatic cancer. On Feb 15, 2023 he turned 60, and five days later he transitioned to experience the unseen realm he wrote so much about.
Dr. Heiser was a Christian author and biblical Old Testament scholar whose area of expertise was the nature of the spiritual realm, specifically the ANE worldview of the Divine Council and the spiritual order’s hierarchy. He was a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife Corporation (the makers of Logos Bible Software) until 2019. He had his own podcast, The Naked Bible, and a non-profit ministry called Miqlat that is dedicated to the creation and distribution of his content. Heiser very graciously continued his craft until the end. Jan 7 was his last podcast episode.
My only brush with Dr. Heiser was in November of 2011 when I was in Bellingham, Washington for a Logos Bible Software training (interestingly led by Morris Proctor who lost his battle with cancer on January 23… just four weeks before Heiser’s passing. That’s a lot of loss within the Logos Bible Software community in a very short time.
There are many books today that discuss sabbath rest. Maybe you’ve read some of them?
“The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man” by Abraham Joshua Heschel
“The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World” by John Mark Comer
Subversive Sabbath: The Surprising Power of Rest in a Nonstop World by A.J. Swoboda
Soul Rest: Reclaim Your Life, Return to Sabbath by Curtis Zackery
“Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives” by Wayne Muller
“The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath” by Mark Buchanan
“Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now” by Walter Brueggemann
“Sabbath: The Once and Future Practice” by Bruce Feiler
“The Power of the Sabbath” by Dr. Ernest Gentile
“The Gift of Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives” by Lynne M. Baab
Most of these books discuss the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of the seventh-day sabbath and offer suggestions for incorporating this practice into modern life. They offer a variety of perspectives, from religious to psychological, on the benefits of taking time to rest and rejuvenate on a regular basis.
But today’s concept of biblical rest… isn’t working. Our numerous discussions about “which day” and “how” the seventh-day sabbath should be observed have distracted, confused, and caused apathy within an entire generation of believers. But biblical rest is dramatically different than most suppose. The Bible’s ancient context describes how an original reader would have understood the concept. And a the New Testament suggests humanity’s rest concerns a yoke which is an instrument of work.
But there is a new book on the topic of rest and it’s the only one that incorporates the Ancient Near-Eastern (ANE) understanding of “rest” into our modern day practices. That’s what I’ve done in my book, “Rethinking Rest: Why Our Approach to Sabbath Isn’t Working.” It’s a fresh perspective on a well worn topic.
”Hall provides a wonderful exploration of a question at the heart of the biblical story—what does it look like for the world, and humanity, to be at rest?”
– Jon Collins, Co-Founder, BibleProject
Have you abandoned the sabbath? Do you feel disenfranchised with the practices of the modern Church? Are you willing to rethink what you thought you already knew? “Rethinking Rest: Why Our Approach to Sabbath Isn’t Working” will challenge you to expand your scope and reengage the topic in new ways. Its simple practicality is a breath of fresh air for what has become a stagnant discussion along party lines.