Saturday, January 23, 2016

Now that we're under Grace and not the Law, what about the Sabbath?


What God Expects On The Sabbath

Exodus 31:12-17: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, 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. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.’”
As I continue with this “layman’s look at the Bible” I must state to all reading it that I just came out of a conference with Andrew Farley, author of many books including The Naked Gospel and lead pastor of Church Without Religion in Texas.  I have a new appreciation of the Law of the Old Testament as a result, but have also come to realize what I believe to be more of its appropriate role in our passage from death to life.  You may be detecting some of my growth in that area in the pages ahead.
In this passage, God once again has something to say to the Children of Israel and He does it through Moses, their leader. The topic this time is how they are to treat God’s Sabbath.
God makes some pretty strong statements about the Sabbath.  First, that the Children of Israel were to “surely” observe it, primarily because it’s a perpetual sign of the covenant between He and them, but also because it is “holy” to them, and finally because if they do not, they will be cut off from their people through death. We also note that these days are “His” Sabbaths and the implication is clearly that we dare not keep from God what is rightfully His.
Now keeping the Sabbath is just one of the ten commandments.  And the ten commandments were only a very small percentage of the entire Mosaic Law that Jews were required to keep in their Covenant with God. The complete list included 613 commandments, taking into account both the “do’s” and the “don’ts’s” (yes, that’s how my computer says it is spelled).  Elsewhere in Scripture we are told that even breaking one law of those 613 makes us guilty of falling short in meeting the Law, period.  (James 2:10 reads, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”) Since no one could keep them all, God had to provide another way (the sacrifice of His Son) to clear us once and for all, of all our sins – past, present, and future.  The problem was not the Law for it was good and pure and reflected the character of God. The problem was man. He couldn’t keep it.  But the principles of the Law while they no longer have to be kept in order for us to keep our salvation are still a reflection of God.  And once we have Christ living in us, we now want to reflect as much of that character as possible – only now it becomes volitional rather than compulsory.
So then, while no longer being bound by the Law, we want to consider how keeping them (not for the purpose of our salvation, but because God loves us and we love Him) will enable us to better reflect as much as His character as possible.
In the case of the Sabbath, there are also some beneficial benefits in keeping it. First of all, keeping the Sabbath reminds us, our text says, that it is the Lord Who sanctifies us. That is, we become holy by keeping the Sabbath.  What does that mean? Well, it’s not that by somehow not working on the Sabbath, something miraculous happens and the cells of our body turn ‘holy’. No, the intent here is to convey that by keeping the Sabbath, we are, to a certain extent, fulfilling the meaning of the word, ‘holy’.  And if you look that word up as used in Scripture, there are two meanings that apply here – apartness and separateness.  Keeping the Sabbath is just one small indication of how we are different from others in our desire to reflect God’s character.

Secondly, it provides our physical bodies a complete rest. For those well familiar with computer-talk, we are not talking about putting our ‘physical body computer’ to sleep, but rather a full shut-down when it comes to ‘work’. Recently my iPhone froze and I took it in to the repair depot. The technician asked me one question.  “When was the last time you turned it off?” I told him we had been going through some challenging times and we had to have it on in case of an emergency call 24/7 for at least a month.  He said, “That’s your problem.  These machines need a rest just like you do.” He did his magic (really one small technical step), and lo and behold, everything was fine, but he advised that I turn it off more regularly and let it rest.  Since then, no problems.  Similarly, our bodies were created with what Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Dallas calls a built-in drum rhythm that goes like this – ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, bang; ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, bang; etc.  In case you missed it, each ‘ba-boom’ is a two-day cycle; there’s three of them; and then a new sound “bang” – the rest day.  Our bodies, as well as our minds and hearts need refreshing that keeping the Sabbath can give us.
And God, too, rested on the seventh day of creation. If we are to reflect His character, we would do well to keep this particular law (out of the 613) to the best of our ability.


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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

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