2On the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD. (Ex 35:)
Are you confused? I suspect you are either confused, or think I'm out of my mind, which of course, I am.
How serious was God when He told the Hebrews not to work on the Sabbath? I suspect He was merely pressing a point when He said anyone who works will be stoned to death. A loving God wouldn't have someone stoned for doing something so trivial, surely not:
The Sabbath served other functions besides the obvious. The seventh day was to be a day of rest. This we know and understand. In fact far too many of the churches see only this aspect of the Sabbath, thinking it's a day for them to do their own thing and take a day off from work or school. As we will see, this is not the purpose of the Sabbath, not by a long stretch.
Another purpose of the Sabbath is as a sign. The Sabbath identified an Israelite. If someone, such as an enemy agent, wanted to identify a Jew, all he has to do is watch to see which day he, the "suspect," worships on.
We see here that the Israelites didn't enter into the rest God has established for them (and we see by the reading of this passage, that we are included in those intended for that rest created from the foundation of the world). I would assume that the rest God had in mind for the Hebrews is the land of promise, Canaan land. But if that is the land He was referring to, why did He say they didn't enter in, because we read that they certainly did enter into Canaan, and lived there hundreds of years. Paul speaks of another rest that they didn't enter in, and that rest must be the rest set before us as well, since we, you and I as Gentiles, have not been promised a spot of soil in Israel.
Paul speaks of work, of labor. He seems to imply that if we expect to enter into God's rest, we must work toward that goal. Some believe that we are given rest in the here and now, and that we are not to work at all toward entering in. Paul said that if Jesus had, as believed by some, given us such a rest, then there wouldn't be talk of another rest.
And finally, we see where the Israelites did not enter into God's rest because of unbelief. What is belief? Belief is what will make the difference between being cast out and allowed to enter in to God's rest. Today, and for the past two thousand years it is, and has been, belief that causes a person to be a true Christian, and thereby saved. Our definition of belief then, I should think, would make a world of difference. If we accept a definition of belief that comes short of God's definition, then I suspect we'll be in a world of hurt, being one of those Paul refers to as falling short of God's rest.
The Israelites didn't enter in because they didn't believe. These people saw the miracles, they lived under the Shekinah glory, they were fed by God on a daily basis. They lived their life from the opening to the closing of their eyelids around Almighty God. Yet they didn't believe? We're told that by merely taking a bath and going to church once a week we give evidence of belief that will cause us to enter into God's rest. Am I missing something? Did God perhaps rewrite His dictionary do you think? Or is it possible that we've accepted our definition of belief from a dictionary unapproved by God?
16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. (John 9:)
I would say that Jesus is making it clear that we are to work on the Sabbath. Does that mean we're to ignore the rule to observe the Sabbath? Wouldn't your boss love for you to take such a philosophy? Then he wouldn't have to give you a day off or pay you overtime for working on your Sabbath.
What is it God wants us to learn from this confusing situation? He has His only begotten son do something He punished millions of His people for violating. I think it worth our while to try and unravel this confusing mystery, don't you think?
Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He also said that in His opinion it was ok to pull an animal out of a ditch. We have two professions here that can not keep the Sabbath in its entirety.
I was a farm boy for a time. My job was to milk the cows, feed the chickens, pick up the eggs the hens had laid, feed and milk the cows twice a day, slop the pigs, bring in the water for drinking, bathing, and washing, and many other fun jobs that I would have loved to been able to avoid by claiming "it's the Sabbath, I don't work on the Sabbath."
The animals are not to work on the Sabbath, they get a day off. But a farm boy doesn't. Ol' Buttercup may not have to pull a plow that day, but if I don't milk her twice a day, she'll dry up and we won't have any milk to feed the family. That old pig might not have to root on the Sabbath, but she eats. And I'd better feed her. The same with the many hens and roosters. And the eggs had better be picked up when laid or they'll be broken the next day. and ol' Br'r fox he don't respect the Sabbath either. When he goes after those hens, I'd better be after him, or my granpa will sure be after me, in spite of the Sabbath.
During the wilderness journey, and in the Promised Land, that old cow may not have had to be milked in order to continue giving milk. I don't know. I know God handled the manna in such a way that it took care of itself on its day off. And God said that if they keep the Sabbath intended for the land, it would produce enough before the time, to take care of the time it was to lay fallow. But God didn't keep Betsy or Buttercup producing, and our field didn't produce extra every 7th year. So a farm boy had to make up the difference.
Mom wasn't able to rest from her job on the Sabbath. Baby continued to have to be changed, and to be fed, and to wake up several times in the night. When we were sick, she had to be there to take care of us, regardless how she felt or what day it was.
When I was in the Army I couldn't plead the Sabbath to keep me out of kitchen duty or hiking that forced 20 mile hike. The enemy didn't respect the Sabbath either, and bullets hurt just as much on the Sabbath as they do any other times. I doubt even David had a rest on the Sabbath when the Philistines decided to attack the city.
Doctors, firemen, policemen and many others, such as the man who turns the switch that brings electricity into your house has to work in order to keep this modern world going. When the baby gets colicky, we don't want to hear that the hospital is closed because it's the Sabbath. When our house is on fire, we won't accept "We'll take care of it first thing in the morning, it's the Sabbath you know." In spite of what we think of the Sabbath, we don't want everyone to see it in the same way as we might.
In regards to the Sabbath, I read a website that made a very good point. Whether we should or should not have to keep the Sabbath, and whether God wants us in this modern times to keep the Sabbath; it's important to realize that we should have a choice as to whether we keep the Sabbath, and which day we keep it. When the government, or the church makes it a law that a certain day be kept, and its against the law to keep another day, then we end up with a situation that Jesus lived under, and that those of the Inquisition lived through. Whereas the Jews made it a law that the Sabbath, meaning Saturday, must be kept or die (which for them was God's demands), the Christian church countered that with a law that says the Sabbath (meaning Saturday) cannot be kept. Either way, whatever a person does will be wrong. God want us to obey the law because of a heart-felt desire to please Him, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying. The law is there to show us what God wants. If we don't want to obey the law, fine. But don't pretend as if you do, rather go away and be part of the world. Do your own thing. If we do what's "right" because we have to, then we're merely cheating ourselves out of the pleasure we desire. Our "sacrifice" will have been for naught.
The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Let's keep these words of Jesus in mind as we read this study.
I expected to easily find where the Apostles followed the example Jesus had set, that is, healing on the Sabbath. But God does not always lay things on the surface but makes us work for what we desire to learn of Him. By my stating this I realize I leave the door wide open to those who like to take a jot or tittle and create a fantasy out of it, and force that fantasy down our throat as proven, Biblical fact. I hope it doesn't sound as if that is what I am doing here. I've done an extensive search looking for a time the Apostles worked the work of God on the Sabbath, but this obscure passage is as close as I have been able to come to finding one. In the 13th verse it make it fairly clear that this demon was cast out on the Sabbath. If this be so, then it at least gives evidence that the Apostles were not adverse to healing on the Sabbath, but does not give proof that they made a habit of it either. If this passage is forced, or is not in fact a Sabbath occurrence, then at best it means I must leave this question blank.
Moving ahead, is there anything else in the Word that might tell us if we, like Jesus, are to work on the Sabbath?
2But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:)
4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal 3:)
14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Rom 8:)
A son of God does the work of God, or better said, God does His work through His sons. And if I read this correctly, those of us who are truly led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God.
Did I say that right? Am I off on another strange tangent delving into heresy? Let's see what the Bible has to say about this:
Maybe the key to this mystery is in the unique word "begotten." Let's see what begotten means in the Greek, shall we?
Begotten means "only-born." Although we are born of God through the acceptance of the Holy Spirit, we were not born through natural childbirth as was Jesus. Luke makes it plain that Jesus was an exceptional birth. Nicodemus had difficulty dealing with this difference, wondering if he had to crawl back into his mother's womb in order to be born again. We must be born again. Jesus didn't have to be born again because He was born of God the first time. This makes Jesus the "Only begotten child of God, even though God has many children. Mary, those of us not Catholic, we understand to have had several children. All were begotten, but only her first was "begotten" of God.
Jesus said that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. What does this mean? We read this, and we accept it as true because Jesus said it. But what does it mean, and how does it effect us?
18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, AND I IN YOU. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14)
In the reading of the story of Elijah and Elisha we find a foreshadowing of the Church that Jesus has established. Jesus said those who believe on Him will do more than He did. Do we see this today? Do we see anyone walking on water or casting mountains into the sea? I don't, maybe you do.
We, you and I, live in the age of the Apostate church. When did the Apostate church begin?
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1Tim 4:)
1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)
16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (Acts 2:)
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Heb 1:)
18Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1John 2:)
What causes the apostasy of the Church? Why are there false doctrines and misleading traditions with us? Aren't we living in the enlightened age where we're beyond listening to fables and fairy tales? Take a look at the book shelves, the TV show, the movies and see if it looks like we no longer fall for such stuff and nonsense. Indeed, we thrive on the untrue. We hate to hear the truth, because a lie pleases us so well. We don't want our spouse to tell us our faults, only how wonderful we are. We want this from our pastor as well. And because of our itchy ears, we get pastors and elders who will tell us, not what we need to hear, but what we want to hear.
Why are there so many violent and pornographic programs and games in this world today? Why are there so many illegal drugs, junk food, alcohol and cigarettes on the market today? It's because we, you and I, buy these things. Take a look at the books on your own shelf. Examine the programs that pass into your home unnoticed via the tube. Take a close look at the DVDs on your recreational center. If you didn't buy these things, they would stop making them. These things are produced because that's what people buy. Take away the consumer, and the manufacturer disappears. Take away the itching ears, and the wolves and the tares in the church desiring to scratch those ears, will pass into oblivion.
For one thing we see where these people, along with doing what's right, are doing it for the wrong reasons. They seem to be looking to be seen as special in God's eyes, and trying to create a debt that God has to pay because of their "sacrifice." Of course I'm speculating here, perhaps I've read this wrong, or there's more to it. But if we look at people today, and the reasons they fast or do what's right, we see much the same as what I've described. They go to church, they tithe, they do good things, and they expect to receive rewards for what they do. They don't do it because they want to please God, but to have their own desires satisfied.
Ezekiel was given a similar picture of the people, one that sounds great on the surface, but when examined it is found to be unsatisfactory:
Back to Isaiah:.
Notice the use of metaphors and similes throughout the Bible, especially in the last two chapters of Revelation. From this we can see that Isaiah is writing about the end times, that could well be obtained here and now if we only loved others as we do ourselves.
Notice the use of the term "Repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to be walked in." Doesn't this sound like a description of Jesus?
25And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. (Isaiah 30:)
But here it's God being the One to repair the breach. Could it be that God is telling us, those of us who are doing for our neighbor as God would do for us, that we are the repairer of the breach, doing God's work as Jesus did?
In the Old Testament we find that it is inescapable what God demands of us, and what will happen to us if we go against His will. In the New Testament it's not as clear what God wants from us. In fact, as we've been investigating, it appears that God might well want us to work on the Sabbath. But this couldn't be true. Could it?
23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Mat 13:)
17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (Eph 4:)
22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:)
Jesus told us that we will not find understanding or be able to believe if we seek honor (and I believe "understanding" might be included here) from one another. We have to receive God's understanding from God, and not from each other. We can learn from each other, but not be given understanding that belongs to God alone.
In various places Jesus told the Pharisees, thereby us, that their traditions were concealing the truth from themselves and from one another. He also warned His disciples to beware the doctrines of the Pharisees and others who believed they held the truth. This is good advice for us today as well. But our problem is, if we don't have the Holy Spirit (which everyone in the churches are told they do have), then their only option is to listen to someone else. Everyone is right in their own eyes, and therefore they are blind. If we believe we can see, then we're blind. If we know we're blind, then we can be made to see (John 9:40-41). Confusing, isn't it? Consider this comparison: If you (or I) were to have the doctor tell us that we must take a certain medicine, perform some ritual we dislike, or die; we're not likely to listen to him or do as he says if we're feeling good about ourself. But if we're sick, and we realize there's something seriously wrong with us, then we're likely to do anything and listen to anything in order to change our condition.
In order to understand and to know the truth we must do what we learn we're to do. Hearing only dulls the ears. Doing causes us to understand, and to have a platform upon which to place the next level of information we're to learn to understand. This is true of anything in this life. If we don't study and do what we're given to do in the first grade, we have no base upon which to place what is given in the second grade. Is there anyone who can argue with this logic? Doesn't it seem reasonable that this logic would apply to the Spiritual as well as the physical?
Here Jesus is asked point-blank what the greatest commandment is. What does Jesus say?
Jesus could have relieved us of this conflict, He could have lifted His sword, if He had of only told us about how to treat the Sabbath. Of course He made it clear what He believes are the important commandments, and we ignore them saying that He did away with the Commandments instead of reinforced them. And we ignore or deny the many times He said that we must follow Him all the way if we expect to be with Him in Paradise. So it may have done no good for Him to specify what is valid as doctrine and what is not. Just imagine how much easier it would be on all of us if Jesus had said yay or nay to such things as His place in the Godhead; if there is a Trinity; if we must believe in His virgin birth to be saved; if dunking in water is demanded or if sprinkling will do; if baptizing babies will insure their admission into Heaven; if saints are able to intercede for us; and many other such matters that we of the Church use as battering rams against one another.
For some reason Jesus has been strangely silent on these matters, causing us to dig into mud holes and turn over leaves to find tiny pieces of evidence that we magnify into mountains of manure that we sit proudly upon as we sneer at others who don't join us on our "holier-than-thou" mount.
Could it by any chance be that Jesus intentionally left these areas a mystery in order to see what we will do with them? Can you perceive Him using just such a means to divide the sheep from the goats? What do we see of goats? Anyone who's been around goats know they love to butt their heads against one another, testing to see who is the stronger. When a goat is only weeks old it's trying out its butting abilities. Jesus said not to point the finger at anyone, not to judge others, to deal with our own log and not to be concerned with the mote in someone else's eye. What better way to test us than to leave certain areas unexplained in order to see how we'll handle them. Such a system might easily cause those who are not listening to Jesus to do exactly what Jesus spoke against, because their nature hasn't been changed from the Adamic to the Spiritual. Those of the flesh are going to use these areas of silence to cause themselves to feel good about themselves at the expense of those who disagree with them; and those of the Spirit will feel compassion instead of hatred toward what they consider their wayward brothers and sisters.
13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:)
In the introductory passage we found examples of people who believed they were doing well because they were interested in hearing the Words of God, and going about performing the rituals called for by the law. Again we see this in same behavior in the Pharisees. Jesus in many ways told them they were on the wrong track. Jesus said they were to have mercy above and beyond sacrifice. They were to obey the spirit of the law rather than concentrate on the letter of the law. He told them in Matthew 23:23 that they strained at the small things, the rituals and the traditions, and they ignored the big things like mercy and the love of God for His creation (my paraphrase and assumption). That is not to say that what the Pharisees were doing was not essential. For the most part, other than their doctrines and their traditions, they were to continue doing as they had been doing.
5And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2John 5)
Walking in a commandment is what makes the difference, not memorizing it and being able to spew it out when asked for in Sunday School.
Perhaps we might look at this new commandment as a refreshed view of an old commandment that had been misunderstood in the past. Does that sound about right to you?
By the way, have you noticed how many times the commandments, especially the commandments of Jesus, that we're told no longer exist, is spoken of as if they do exist? I wonder if that might be just one more of the swords Jesus brought with Him to leave with His Church to aid in the separation of the sheep from the goats.
"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)
Remember the signs given to the Jews and to Abraham? The sign of a Jew is that they worship on the Sabbath. The sign of a child of Abraham is that they are circumcised. This holds true of the Christian as well. Don't we read that it's the children of the promise who are the seed, the ones who will inherit the Kingdom? Aren't children of Abraham supposed to be circumcised? Are you circumcised? Is this a hook you don't like because it means a trip to the doctor for an operation you never counted on and was never told about?
Let's see if we can lower that hook just a tad:
1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 (Gal 5:)
Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Many people and churches use this passage to say that the law is done away with and that we're no longer to regard the law. In fact many churches use this to condemn those who desire to obey the law to an eternity in hell. Such a loving attitude. I wonder how they handle heat. I read this to say if we're counting on our own keeping of the law to justify us, as did the Jews, then we have fallen from grace since we're no longer counting on the shed blood of Jesus to justify us. I see nowhere in this passage, or in any other, where condemnation is due anyone who wishes to go beyond grace and also obey the laws of any land or religion, as long as they don't violate what God has told us to do. In fact I see where the Apostles continued to follow the rules of the law, even to Paul having Greeks circumcised so they could enter the Temple. I see where Paul said he will be as a Jew (and any other such) in order to win over the Jew. And I see that he will obey the law of abstaining from meat that is lawful to us as Christians, if his eating meat will offend anyone. If we're going to condemn those who obey the law, then we have to condemn the Apostles and Jesus as well, because they all obeyed the law as God gave it, not as it came from man.
We have to be careful in our condemnation for two particular reasons. One, all judgement belongs to God, not to us. And two, we will be judged according to how we judge others. Along with this, as we're seeing in this study: if we wish to obtain mercy, we had better be showing mercy to others. Judging and condemning, no matter for what reason, is a long way off from mercy.
We see that it's not the circumcision of the flesh that matters, that makes one a child of Abraham, therefore a child of the promise, but a circumcision of the heart. What does it mean to have one's heart circumcised? I suspect if taken literally we would have to make an appointment with a heart surgeon rather than a mohel (one who performs circumcision).
Like the laws that are no longer in stone for us of the New Testament, but rather one the heart, so is circumcision of the heart, and not of the flesh. Both are now Spiritual matters rather than fleshly. Whereas under the Old Testament those of the flesh were to obey the law in fleshly, that is, in physical ways, we're to obey them in Spiritual ways. Jesus is an example of this very thing. His life, and His death are part of and fulfillment of the Spiritual as well as the Physical aspects of God's plan. Some of us will have to endure the physical as well as the Spiritual parts of the New Covenant, as did the Apostles and many of the martyrs of the past, and the present in other countries. But if we do, or if we don't have to follow Jesus to the cross, each and every one of us must obey the commandments written upon our hearts, and cut away the fleshly part of our heart. This is what God was wanting of His creation from the beginning, to cause us to be like Him, not like we want to be. Jesus not only gave us an example of this very thing, what God wants and demands, but He died in order to make it possible for us to do so. He didn't sacrifice His life so we can live a life of abandon. If you read your Bible is such a way that you find this concept presented, I suggest you either get new glasses or a new Bible.
51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7:)
Uncircumcised of heart. Is this a new concept that was started at Pentecost? We might think so since it's clear the Jews were living under a very physical system and apparently unaware of the Spiritual nature of God and His commandments. Jesus pointed out that, even though God had given them a physical scenario under which to live, He was more concerned with a Spiritual aspect which none of them seem to be aware of.
Is there anything in the Old Testament that might point to the fact that God was dealing with the Spiritual as well as the physical nature of the law when He was dealing with the Jews?
5And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. 6And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. 8And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. 9Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. (Ezek 44:)
Breaking the law nullifies the covenant that God had made with the Jews. When we break our covenant, our promise to God (whether we know what that covenant consists of or not, which very few of us do), all bets are off. God is no longer held responsible for the promises either perceived or in fact regarding us. We think we can violate the covenant all we want, but God can't. We see that He has broken His covenant to the Jews many times and in many ways because of their disobedience, yet we don't feel that He is allowed to break His with us when we violate His will. In my opinion this is a very dangerous position to take.
What does it mean when God says the uncircumcised in heart are not to be brought into His sanctuary? We think of the Temple as His sanctuary. But only the priests, and a very limited number of them, were able to enter the Temple, and then only at a given time, and after thoroughly cleansing themselves through specific rituals. So it's unlikely that He meant the Temple. I suspect that in your church there is an area called the sanctuary. The word used here is one that means a "Chapel," a "sacred part." Does your church allow people uncircumcised of heart, whether baptized or not, into their sanctuary? Of course we have no way of knowing who is or who isn't truly circumcised in their heart, but neither do we have to advertise for such people, cater to their condition, and refrain from teaching them the importance of growing in the Lord. What do you suppose God will do to a church that allows the uncircumcised into their midst and tells them they don't have to change in order to be seen as special in the eyes of the Lord? Even more to the point concerning this Apostate age, what will God have to say to those churches that allow such people, regardless of their status in the church, to hold positions of authority in the church, and to preach from the pulpit? Consider what Jesus said to those cities ("Whoa unto") that didn't respond to Him and His message. How much more will those churches that pretend to be obedient, that preach under the guise of Christianity, be given harsh judgement?
When you and I were out in the world we were free, but we had sold ourselves to selfishness and to sin. When we became a Christian we accepted the "Deal" God had to offer, which includes the surrender of everything we are or that we own, including our family and our desires. We became bondservants to the Lord. I have little doubt but that you've heard your pastor say as much over the years, although the likelihood is that neither you nor he knew what he was saying.
You and I accepted the contract, even before being told that there is fine print that must be read. Did you read it? I didn't. I wasn't even told about it. But it's being pointed out to me now, and I'm finding that I'm very delinquent in my payments. Those old habits I had been making so much a part of me, I'm now finding very difficult to rid myself of.
How about you? Has the Holy Spirit been holding up a mirror in front of you, showing you where your dirty spots are? If He is, then I have little doubt but that you're as frustrated as I am, and trying to wash off those imbedded stains that even Lava soap won't budge.
If you haven't experienced the mirror, you probably will.... if you're lucky, and open to the experience.
We've been given liberty, now what are we going to do with that liberty?
But what about the Sabbath? Why doesn't anyone tell us what to do on the Sabbath? It's obvious that God thinks the Sabbath is important, so why doesn't He say what we're supposed to do on the Sabbath?
Or did He?
12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:)
6By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (Prov 16:)
Our question for the day is, what happened to the Sabbath? We find that God is mysteriously silent about what He expects of us on His holy day. And at the same time we see how He, through His Son, and apparently through us, violates His will for us on His Sabbath. Are we to learn anything from this? Can we discover God's will by observing Jesus on the Sabbath?
Perhaps we can.'
What was it Jesus did on the Sabbath that caused Him to be in violation? Was He watching TV, or picking up sticks, or put milking a camel? No, He wasn't doing anything like this. He was out doing things for people, helping them in ways they couldn't help themselves. He was blessing the people, telling them about the Father and about the Kingdom of Heaven. He was letting them know that God loves them, and that He wants the best for them. He was demonstrating who God is through His actions and His Words. In other words, He was being God in their midst.
And isn't that what we're to be?
We are given liberty. With that liberty we can celebrate the Sabbath, or we can ignore it. It's up to each and every one of us what we choose to do. There's no room left to condemn those who worship on the Sabbath, nor is there room to condemn those who don't worship oh the Sabbath. The choice is ours.
One letter of the Sabbath I don't keep, and I'm sure there are those ready and willing to condemn me for this lack. I keep the Sabbath from Saturday night to Sunday night, rather than on the traditional Sabbath.
If I don't have to keep the Sabbath, and if most of my church members (as well as those who demand the traditional day be kept), will condemn me for doing so, then why do I do it?
Because of this:
I want to delight the Lord. I want to spend time with Him without distractions, to learn of His will for us.
I want t learn to do His pleasure and not my own. I want to learn to speak His words and not my own. If I saw someone in need, I'd violate the Sabbath. It isn't a law to me, but a pleasure.
This I believe is what Jesus was doing, how He chose to observe the Sabbath. He didn't do His own thing, seeking His own pleasure, but as in every other day, He was seeking to do the Father's will, and speaking His words.
"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
Our responsibility is not to place stumblingblocks of doctrine before the feet of others not of our persuasion, but to serve the Lord, and to make ourselves pure as possible in eyes of God.
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