24/6: A Prescription For A Healthier, Happier Life, by Matthew Sleeth
Since this book gets a lot wrong (more on that shortly), it is worthwhile to discuss at some length what this book gets right. Coming at the question of the freedom and benefits of Sabbath observance from the perspective of a rural doctor concerned about the mad rush of contemporary society as well as the poor health that results from rushed lives and a lack of rest, the author manages to make an eloquent appeal for having at least one day a week focused on rest. The author’s specific claims about such varied matters as the Sabbath for Christians or his odd and very inaccurate beliefs about the Hebrew calendar (which he seems to confuse with the rules about the Egyptian calendar) notwithstanding, there is a lot to appreciate here but the author is not quite as knowledgeable about the Sabbath as he thinks he is. Like many mainstream Christians the author doesn’t want to acknowledge God’s laws as valid or truly obey what God has commanded, but as he sees considerable value in the Sabbath, even if not as commanded in the Bible, there is still a lot of worth here, so long as one recognizes the flaws in the author’s approach.
Coming in at about 200 pages, this particular book is a a quick read with 4 parts and twelve chapters and various supplementary material. Beginning with a foreword from the man behind the overrated “Message” paraphrase of the Bible and a note from the author, the author begins with a discussion of our contemporary fast-paced 24/7 world (I) with chapters on what is missing from contemporary life (1), remembering the Sabbath (2), and how the Sabbath was transformed by Pharisaic legalism (3). After that the author talks about why we need a day of rest (II) with discussions on Jesus and the Sabbath (4), lessons from Nehemiah (5), and the need to rest in rest (6). The author then discusses how one keeps a day of rest (III) with discussions of time (7), place (8), and the miracle of the manna (9) and its implications. Finally, the author discusses what the reader’s 24/6 life will look like (IV) with chapters on the amount of rest it includes (10), the celebratory aspects of the Sabbath (11), and an invitation to commit to rest (12). The author ten includes scriptures, quotes, and blessings, some of them adapted from Judaism, and some notes about the author to conclude the supplementary material from the book.
There are a lot of things that could have made this book better. For example, it is rather telling that the author does not include among the Sabbath scriptures of the Bible the numerous examples of Sabbath worship that can be found in the book of Acts that demonstrate that the biblical seventh-day Sabbath is still commanded for Christians today (see also Hebrews 4:9). The author makes it clear that he wants mainstream Christians to see and seize the benefits of the Sabbath without feeling it necessary to obey the biblical command or have a high view of biblical law. Obviously the author and I differ on this and many other matters. That said, we read and review the books that are written, not the books we would have preferred to have read, and the author does come at the Sabbath from a worthwhile angle of health, even if his reasoning is unsound and he tries way too hard to appeal to antinomian Hellenistic Christian thinking. For those who want to see what a mainstream Christian, albeit one with a strongly social and environmental “justice” bent, has to say about the Sabbath, this is a worthy book to check out.