And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
The Sabbath Day
The 4th Commandment
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy.
Exodus 20:1-11 and Matthew 12:1-14
I have spent several years looking into the Sabbath. There are many many opinions. I bring this part to you out of a great concern that we are idolizing leisure above the worship of God. I have great concerns that on Sundays when we come to worship we are distracted, tired from the work week and running around, to the point that our efforts are displeasing to God and that we never connect with Him. In short I wonder, quite often about our real love for God.
As your pastor it is my hearts desire that all of us truly know God in a saving manner in which He is truly Savior, Lord, and Love.
With the mounds of notes that I have on the Sabbath, I have come to several conclusions. Honestly, I also have new questions. So in what I shall deliver over the next few Sundays, I hope to summarize for you some essentials. Let us remember a few key points…
• The Ten Commandments are more about Who God is than legalistic rules that no flesh can keep.
• God’s laws are meant for our benefit, leading us to Him and protecting us from evil.
First let us tackle the biggest concern. Legalism & Worship
Throughout the Old Testament is it undeniable that God repeatedly held the breaking of the Sabbath against the Jews. He often charges them with profaning His Sabbath. It was to be a time of worship of Him and of rest. God detests the sniffing at His name and the false pretenses of worship. It was this that was an early step towards idolatry of false idols. They may not have immediately left the Sabbath, they may have mixed Baal with their regular worship. But hand in hand they failed to worship God.
• Sabbath rest was not instituted until the Decalogue was given to Moses.
• In Genesis we never find a command for man to rest on the seventh day.
• Rest did have many benefits for Jew, animals, and slaves.
• In the NT, all the ten commandments are taught explicitly, with the exception of Sabbath rest. The early church did not keep the Sabbath, they kept the day of resurrection for worship.
• The Pharisees legalistically kept the Sabbath. They added commands that were not of the Lord.
• Jesus pointed out that the Sabbath was made for man, that doing good to others on this day was encouraged, and that the Pharisees had it all wrong.
Historically, in post reformation days, the Sunday worship became relaxed in “Merry Old England”. It was called such as the church started being the grounds of festivals and sports on Sunday afternoons. Yet it got out of hand. There were dong fights and gambling, and it became the focus of the day rather than the work of Christ.
Now, legalistically in our day and in the last 100 years, we have had blue laws and have sought to facilitate worship on the Sabbath un hindered. It was then thought that if a person worked on such a day that it would ruin our witness before others that we are Christians. (More will be covered on this in following weeks)
Now I fully admire and respect people such as Truett Cathy and his Chick Fil A stores which are all closed on Sunday. I also have this regard for Hobby Lobby for the same reason. If I owned a business I would do the same as they. But, I am not finding any command of the New Testament prohibiting Christians from working on the Sabbath. Now I do find some provisions to their life that need to be observed.
• They must not forsake the assembling of the believers.
• They must have some time of rest in the week for reflection and meditation upon the graces of God. (Implied by the church)
Me too. But like the Berean brethren, we must take what is taught us and put it against scripture to see what Scripture says.
Many of us have objections to alcohol. I do. However, some of those same people regularly give no regard to other commandments. I say, pass the pork.
Through the NT we often see Jesus bringing clarity to the OT regulations and laws. We now understand murder is on par with anger against a brother or name calling. We see that lust is on par with adultery. This then begs us to investigate how Jesus taught about the Sabbath. Seems to me most of His healings and work that we have recorded were Sabbath events. I find that wonderful.
Now Jesus did teach that if an ox went in a ditch on the Sabbath day that one would get it out. Adrian Rodgers once said that if the ox kept getting in the ditch either fill in the ditch or slaughter the ox. That is a good rational for those making excuses of why they neglect worship while acting “spiritual”.
But Jesus was showing the duplicity of the Pharisees’ treatment of the Sabbath. His intent was to say that it glorifies God to do good on the Sabbath.
And this brings me to my main point. The Sabbath is to full fill the two greatest commandments.
To Love the Lord your God (That is to worship Him) and
To Love your neighbor as Yourself (Do ministry unto others)
For we are created to glorify God, thus we are also to be lights unto a dark world that has yet to know Christ. The fulfilling of the great commission is to go into all the world, and how will the world know and believe our message? It is by the Spirit working in us that we love, not that we keep all the law. The scripture states…
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34-35
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:14-16
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11
Love is the evidence of our Christianity, not law. Yes if we love God we keep His commandments, But without the love, law is useless.
So let me give you a few things John Calvin concluded about the Sabbath that will be beneficial summations…
1. That during our whole lives we may aim at a consistent rest from our own works in order that the Lord ma work in us by His Spirit.
2. that every individual as he has opportunity man diligently exercise himself in private and pious meditation on the works of God and at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church, for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer.
3. That we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us.