After I had finished my little devotional rant about Bad Theology on a Bookmark, one clever image bearer asked, “How I can include God in my sleep—I can’t have Godly dreams every night.”
After a pause an idea came to me, and I turned to Psalm 1. That didn’t help me a bit, because what I was looking for was in Psalm 4.
My thought is that by adopting a more Hebrew, less Western, concept of the day, we can make our physical act of sleep a little more sacred. This ancient concept is apparent in the ordering of Psalm 4 and Psalm 5. Psalm 4 includes these lines: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” Psalm 5 says, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” The editors of the Psalms placed the evening poem before the Psalm about the morning.
In Genesis 1 we find the same pattern. The first day of creation is described and then it says, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” A few verses later, the same thing, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.” You get the idea; the day begins in the evening. Anyone who has watched Tevye hurry home before nightfall in Fiddler on the Roof knows that the Sabbath starts on Friday night, but it’s not just the Sabbath Day that starts in the evening; in the culture from which the Bible came, every day starts in the evening.
Already in Progress
Thinking about the day starting at night will change how you think of sleeping and, indeed, yourself. In our culture, the day begins with me. I wake up, and then the day begins. I must be pretty important if the day—and you might as well say, the universe—doesn’t start until I roll out of bed. It would be quite appropriate to declare upon waking, “I am here, and, thus, the day may now begin.”
Consider the Hebrew concept of the day starting in the evening. The day starts when I stop. The first seven hours of every day have passed while I drooled on my pillow. But God hasn’t slept; He’s been at work through the night. He has a plan and a pattern for the day and I join it, already in progress, and fit into that plan.We think the day begins when we join it. So, each day begins with a ritual reminder of our personal significance. How might our perspective change if we adopt the Hebrews day? When we wake, we join it already in progress. Click To Tweet
I’ve been trying to live in Hebrew time for at least 10 years now, and every morning when I wake up, well almost every morning, I say, “Good morning, Lord. Thank you.”
Understanding the day in this way reframes the seven hours that I sleep in that it reminds me of my cosmic insignificance in the context of His divine Providence. It also reframes the hours I am awake. It is a quotidian reminder and that the all-powerful king of the universe loves me because he’s there every morning to hear me say, “Good, morning Lord. Thank you”