Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Sabbath - More Than Just a Day Off

After the Law is given to keep the Sabbath holy in Exodus 20, we meet this re-enforcement of the command:

Exodus 31:12-17. "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak also to the children of Israel, saying, Surely my sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord Who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death. For whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Work shall be done in six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed."

It doesn't get a lot clearer than that. This Sabbath is forever. But some new elements are added that we should look at:

a. First there is the element of time. Not only is the Sabbath from the beginning of creation, but now it is to stretch forever. God sees no time here when Sabbath-keeping is not to be in vogue.

b. Nevertheless, some will say, and this is another point that seems new to this passage, there must be a people called Israel forever in order for there to be an eternal Sabbath, for this practice is to be a sign between God and this special people. Correct indeed. Let us hear once more from the apostle to the Gentiles talking about something oh so Jewish:

Romans 11:12-26 [portions]. "If their [Israel's] fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness... if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches... hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in... and so all Israel will be saved."

What are you saying, Paul? He's saying Israel is forever. He's saying God bypassed the Jewish nation temporarily to open the door to other nations, but when all is said and done there is only one tree, one nation, and it is called Israel! The program of God is for Israel His chosen, but I am a part of Israel if I continue on in faith. Israel is forever. Not Israel according to the flesh, that is, all those born as Jews, but the Israel of God, His blood-covenant people, people of the New and Better Covenant established by and in Messiah. We will speak more of this later, but for now we understand, that if Israel can be forever, so can her Sabbaths.

c. There is also added in our text the notion of refreshment. The spirit is revived and made to prosper again on that seventh day. Fleshly entertainment cannot bring this about, but rather the coming together of God's people for prayer, worship, and Word. Thus is suggested the means by which the Commandment is to be kept.

d. Once more note the death penalty for Sabbath-breakers. God wants His people blessed. He will be severe in His enforcement.

There is one final mention of Sabbath in the book of Exodus:

Exodus 35:2-3. "Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day."

a. Is this latter regulation because of the work involved in creating a fire? Or is cooking of all sorts here forbidden?

b. Notice in all of the passages that this is more than just a day off. It is a holy time, an opportunity to draw near to God on a weekly basis, with no hindrances. The rich and the poor and all other class divisions are here given an equal fifty-two days a year to draw near to God and refresh their spirits.

An enticing idea, for those who desire fellowship with God. 52 retreats a year, every year, until Jesus comes. is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.

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