Bible Reading for: January 17
You don’t need a day off. You need restful time with God.
Believe it or not there are some Christians today who think those that celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, rather than Saturday, are apostates – that is to say Sunday worshipers have rejected the one true church. This group typically believes that many of the Old Testament Laws and practices are still in force and if one does not observe them one is not saved. It is amazing to me that 2,000 years after the Apostles fought such wrong-headed notions they still exist today. Jesus was crucified, in part, because people that thought that way felt He violated Old Testament Laws and therefore had to be put to death. He specifically violated the Law concerning the Sabbath.
Matthew 12:1-4 ESV
“At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?”
I wonder if the people who think we are still under the Law prepare meals, drive to church, or turn on lights on the Sabbath? Remember back in Moses’ day, God ordered the death of a man caught picking up sticks for a fire on the Sabbath. People, you can’t obey God’s Laws well enough to pass muster. Grace is required to meet and surpass the Law. It is only with the indwelling Holy Spirit that we can obey the spirit of the Law. Folks that obsess about the letter of the Law often miss the crucial issue of the spirit of the Law which is what God really cares about.
So, what is the spirit of the Law when it comes to the Sabbath? The Sabbath is kept as a day of rest because God rested on the seventh day after the creation of the world. Now was that the seventh 24-hour day? What is a God sized day? Have you ever heard the expression, “back in the day”? Does that expression refer to back in a 24-hour day or back at an earlier time? I believe the word translated as day in the Genesis story is better understood as an “age” rather than 24 hours. This is because the earth revolving around the sun creating our 24-hour light and dark cycle did not commence on the first day of creation. The first days of creation couldn’t be 24 hour days because there was no sun by which to measure such time.
So, God is not being literal in the sense of 24-hour days; He is establishing a principle for mankind to practice which is this – on a weekly basis a human being needs to take one day to rest and be restored. Now what is the best way to rest and be restored? Should one lie in bed all day every seventh day to be restored? No, what we need to be restored is to spend time completely focused on praising, worshiping and walking with God. There is no better way for a person to be restored. When we rest from our labors we are resting from the mundane daily tasks that we must do in order to live physically. Rest means taking an entire day to do those things that we must do in order to live spiritually. Frankly, we ought to feed ourselves spiritually every day but the seventh day should exclude all other distractions so we can truly be refreshed and restored. This is the spirit of the Law concerning the Sabbath.
We could keep the letter of the Law and do absolutely nothing on Saturdays. If we were really to stick with the letter of the Law, however, we wouldn’t prepare meals, we wouldn’t drive or walk anywhere and we wouldn’t so much as flip on a light switch. Is that really what God is after?
Matthew 12:6-7 ESV
“I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.”
Brothers, it is fine to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday, Sunday, or any other day as long as you are living up to the spirit of the Law. God put this principle in place for your good not His. You need every seventh day to be spent focused on God rather than yourself. You are denying yourself essential nutrients for your spiritual life if you compromise this principle. You should want to keep this principle because your Lord and Savior asks you to do so. Consider how you spend your day of worship and identify things you need to eliminate that take your heart and mind away from God. This day is a day set aside for time with Him. Don’t rob yourself of that precious time.
Vivere Victorem! (Live Victorious!)
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!