Showing posts from February, 2010

Our Good, God’s Glory

Sabbath Study, Part 24 Because of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, it is right for us to ask in humble bewilderment, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8:4). Why does God show kindness to sinners by offering them rest (among many other acts of mercy and grace)? The answer to this question is illustrated in our next Sabbath story. 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 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 th

Works of Mercy

Sabbath Study, Part 23 The preceding incident (Matthew 12:1-8) is immediately followed by another “Sabbath encounter” Jesus had with the Pharisees: Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. (Matthew 12:9-13) When He had departed from there. Jesus went into the synagogue on the same day of the previous incident (see Mt. 12:1-8), but it appears that He stayed there—or in the vicinity—for at least a week before this particular instance occurred (see Mr

Works of Necessity

Sabbath Study, Part 22 The book of Mark describes the incident we examined in our last post, but with an additional statement by Jesus that sheds more light on the purpose of the Sabbath: “And He [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27) The Sabbath was made for man. “That is, the Sabbath was intended for the welfare of man; designed to promote his happiness; and not to produce misery, by harsh, unfeeling requirements. It is not to be so interpreted as to produce suffering, by making the necessary supply of wants unlawful. Man was not made for the Sabbath. Man was created first, and then the Sabbath was appointed for his happiness, Ge 2:1-3. . . . The laws are to be interpreted favourably to his real wants and comforts. This authorizes works only of real necessity, not of imaginary wants, or amusement, or common business, and worldly employments” (Albert Barnes, on Matthew 12:6). The functional purpose of the Sabbath is to be of s

Field of Grains

Sabbath Study, Part 21 The New Testament helps flesh out the true nature of the Sabbath rest. It is interesting to note that many of Jesus’ healing miracles were intentionally performed on the Sabbath. There seem to be at least two reasons for this: 1) By expanding (so to speak) on the concept of the Sabbath, Jesus was establishing His divinity, putting Himself on equal footing with God; and 2) Jesus was correcting the misuses and abuses of the Sabbath rest, helping His people to more fully enjoy God’s provision of it. We must not make the mistake of calling Jesus a Sabbath breaker, simply because the Pharisees accused Him of such. They also accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard (Mt. 11:19). It is easy and convenient for us to say that Jesus broke the Sabbath all the time, but to say that is to side with the viewpoint of the Pharisees. In reality, Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. No divine law—including the commandment to honor the Sabbath day as holy—was

More Sabbath Blessings

Sabbath Study, Part 20 In Jeremiah 17, there is a lengthy description of Judah’s sin (doubling as a description of the sin of all mankind), followed by Jeremiah’s plea for deliverance. God’s answer begins with an exhortation to honor the Sabbath: Thus says the LORD: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction. “And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the LORD, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the i

A Delight and Joy

Sabbath Study, Part 19 [Just so there is no confusion: we have not examined, and will not examine, every Old and New Testament passage on the Sabbath. This study, while extensive, is not designed to be exhaustive.] In Isaiah 58, we find a Sabbath passage that helps correct our natural thinking. We are prone to consider the Sabbath command a burden, but we are encouraged to see it for what it really is: a blessing. If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor [glorify] Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13, 14) If you turn away…from doing your pleasure. There is a kind provision in this prohibition. In our mod

A Sabbath Song

Sabbath Study, Part 18 Of the 150 Psalms, only 1 is listed as being written specifically for the Sabbath. We aren’t going to go through the whole thing, but I wanted to look at the first few verses. A PSALM. A SONG FOR THE SABBATH DAY. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound. For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this. (Psalm 92:1-6) A song for the Sabbath day. “The subject is the praise of God; praise is Sabbatic work, the joyful occupation of resting hearts. Since a true Sabbath can only be found in God, it is wise to meditate upon him on the Sabbath day…. The Sabbath was set apart for adoring the Lo

Nehemiah: An Exemplar

Sabbath Study, Part 17 Here is one of my favorite Sabbath stories in the Old Testament. It’s an engaging description of Nehemiah’s godly zeal in reinstating some forsaken Sabbath practices in Judah. In those days I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading donkeys with wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. And I warned them about the day on which they were selling provisions. Men of Tyre dwelt there also, who brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said to them, “What evil thing is this that you do, by which you profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers do thus, and did not our God bring all this disaster on us and on this city? Yet you bring added wrath on Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” So it was, at the gates of Jerusalem, as it began to be dark

Repentance-Fueled Passion

Sabbath Study, Part 16 While overseeing the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah leads the nation of Israel in collective repentance and renewal. Israel, broken over its sin, covenanted once again to honor the Lord. One aspect of the peoples’ repentance involved a recommitment to honor the Sabbath. If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath, or on a holy day; and we would forego the seventh year’s produce and the exacting of every debt. (Nehemiah 10:31) While other people groups had no qualms about selling goods on the Sabbath day, the Israelites abstained from such activity. The lack of conviction on the part of heathen nations didn’t seem to deter Israel in this regard. Does this mean that we cannot participate in any commercial activity on the Sabbath (eating at restaurants, buying merchandise, etc.)? There are different schools of thought on that, and I’m not quite sure where I fall. D