The biblical concept of “holiness” is not simply “doing good”, but it is the context that defines what is good and infuses our doing good with divine significance. The relationship between holiness and what the world sees as “good” is complex: sometimes they coincide, sometimes they are askew, and sometimes they come directly into conflict.
In Amos 8:1-7, God uses a vision of a basket of summer fruit to say that the end has come for Israel. Why? In part, because of their greed. For the greedy merchant in ancient Israel, days of rest and holidays were not blessings but irritations, much the our greed pushes us towards a “24/7” society.
The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1951) is a classic of modern Jewish spirituality that has a lot to say as a dialogue partner for Christians wishing to explore what Sabbath observation might mean for them. At the heart of Heschel’s view of the Sabbath is a dichotomy in human life between space and time. Whereas humans in their empire building focus all of their energy on conquering the spatial dimensions by building monuments, sanctifying spaces, and rushing to and fro in search of material prosperity, the Sabbath Day is a palace or a cathedral in time.