Jesus as our Sabbath Rest

9 Nov

rest
For some of the festivals, God tells them why they are to celebrate it; for others, He just tells them what to do, when and how with no explanation. The Sabbath is one that He explains. The precedent goes back to creation week. God created the world in six days, but on the seventh day He rested and blessed the day.
He created it for our good. We need to rest from our work. We need to focus on God and be thankful. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” as Jesus said in Mark 2:27 But over time, like so many of the other laws, the Jews made rules to build a hedge around the law, to prevent inadvertently breaking the law. God said not to take His name in vain. So they began to call God Hashem, which means, The Name. (Kind of like how Macbeth is referred to as The Scottish play) God said not to work, so they defined what work was, i.e. pressing an elevator button. (Sabbath elevator at Mount Sinai Hospital)
This was a point on which the Jewish leadership clashed with Jesus on many occasions. He dared to heal on the Sabbath, and allowed His disciples to glean and eat on the Sabbath. (Luke 6:1-11)
He was so gentle with sinners. But He would not tolerate the hypocrisy and harshness of the religious leaders. Matthew 15:1-9 is a good example of this.
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’
He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
The Jewish leaders were upset because the disciples didn’t practice ceremonial cleansing. But Jesus was more concerned about the way the Pharisees set aside God’s law in favour of their traditions. In this case, people were getting out of caring for their parents by saying they had promised the money to God. They were practicing the letter of the law and giving the appearance of holiness while ignoring the spirit of the law and neglecting the care of their parents. God doesn’t care for lip-service, He sees our hearts and our motives.
He also pointed out that they had things turned around, being so careful to tithe even their spices, while leaving undone the important issues like mercy and justice.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23

They especially hated that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, on several occasions. (John 5:9,10,18,9:14,16, Luke 6:6-11)

“So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath that they might find an accusation against Him.” Luke 6:7
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’ And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” Luke 13:10-17

I used these New Testament examples to help explain the Sabbath because our relation to it is different from Old Testament saints. We need to take our instruction from what Jesus said about it.

The Sabbath represented our rest from trying to work to earn our salvation. That’s why for most of the holidays, like the Day of Atonement, even if they weren’t on the Sabbath, they were instructed to do no customary work. This wasn’t just so they could enjoy the holiday, but so they’d understand that while the High Priest was in the Holy of Holies making atonement for the people, they could do nothing to aid him. Their part was to afflict their souls, and think about their sin, and hope God would accept the offering and forgive them.
Likewise, since Jesus has provided atonement for us, without our aid, now we no longer work for our salvation, because we are in our Sabbath rest. The way we afflict our souls is to repent.
There is a sense that the Sabbath, like many things, has the component of now and not yet. We are now in our Sabbath rest because the work is done for our salvation, and yet the fullness of our rest will be realized in glory when we are free of sin. Then we will be finished from our labours.
So why were the punishments for some laws seemingly lax compared to the death penalty for gathering sticks on the Sabbath? It’s because of what the Sabbath represented. An example is a wedding ring. It represents our commitments, vows, promises and love. If we take it off and throw it at our spouse’s feet, that is a powerful image of how we feel about the marriage. Likewise, when an Israelite broke the Sabbath, they were rejecting the future promised rest.
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day
The important thing is to know that because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday (the feast of firstfruits) John 20:1 and appeared again the following Sunday, John 20:19, sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (also a Sunday), met to break bread and hear preaching, Acts20:7, the early church began to refer to it as The Lord’s Day, and met to worship on that day, even while their culture still had Saturday as a day of rest. Paul also said to set aside our offering on the first day of the week. 1 Cor. 16:2 The Apostle John also saw his revelation of end times when he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10 Because of these reasons, we worship on Sundays.
As for how much you should or shouldn’t do on Sundays, Paul said we must be fully convinced in our own minds and not judge our brothers and sisters on these secondary issues. We shouldn’t major on the minors.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” Romans 14:5,6
The problem with Seventh Day Adventists is more than just on which day they meet to worship. Included in their beliefs are a rejection of the finished work of Christ as sufficient to secure our salvation and a subsequent religion of works, including an attempt to follow dietary laws. However, they only pick and choose which laws to follow, since we are not in a theocracy, nor do we offer animal sacrifices. James says that if we go the route of trying to obtain salvation by the works of the law, we are obligated to keep it all perfectly, because like a chain, it doesn’t matter which link you break, the chain is broken.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

Furthermore, they also have unorthodox views about what happens when we die, with a belief in soul sleep until the resurrection, rather than being “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. 5:8
You can always know a cult or religion is wrong when you examine what they think about Jesus.

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