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November at Grace Bible Church in Lansing, Michigan November 2, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Events, Grace Bible Church, Thanksgiving.
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Adult Sunday School – two classes are being offered: (1) Sickness, Healing, and the Bible, and (2) Reaching the World as A Church (Biblical Evangelism).

November 8 – Sunday Morning Sermon from Luke 18:1-30, “If Jesus Comes on Thanksgiving Day”

November 15 – Operation Christmas Child’s “Parade of Shoeboxes”

November 15 – Thanksgiving Great Night Service at 6 p.m. with refreshments afterwards. Come and thank the Lord with us on this special evening.

November 18 – First of three sessions for teens and preteens on “The Church, Baptism, and Why we Believe What we Believe.” Wednesday evening from 7:15-8:00 p.m.

November 25 – No Wednesday service on Thanksgiving Eve.

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The Practical Purposes of the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:1-3 and other passages) October 19, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Leviticus, Religion, Sabbath, Sermons.
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THE PRACTICAL PURPOSES OF THE SABBATH

Leviticus 23:1-3

There is no quicker way to evoke controversy than to talk about the Sabbath. This is not a new problem. Two thousand years ago in Romans 14:5-6b, Paul refers to this same controversy, “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…” Now rather than deal with this passage, I would like to point out that Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit does not give his opinion but rather commands each believer to study it out for himself and live accordingly.

There were some who probably said, “The Old Testament says remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. We should observe Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath as a holy day.” There were others who said, “O no, we are a new creation, the body of the resurrected Christ. We are a people of the new covenat. We should observe Sunday, resurrection day, as a holy day.” Still others no doubt said, “All days are holy to the Lord. Let’s not set up one day higher than another but rather serve God every day with our heart and mind and soul.”

Paul would have said, “As long as you are not looking down on each other and puffing yourself up based on your own opinion and you have studied the Word and thought this matter through before forming your opinion, do whatever you like.”

Now Paul is helpful in showing us how to deal with the controversial side of this issue but what we want to look at is the practical purposes of the Sabbath and how that we can practice those purposes in our lives.

The Sabbath defined (Leviticus 23:3).

It is a day of rest from work. This is what we think of first. It is a day to take a break from work. God ordained work in the garden of Eden, giving Adam and Eve the responsibility to care for the garden. Work is an honorable and a good thing. There is certainly nothing wrong with work but God wanted the Israelites to take a break every seven days from their work, from their business, from their occupations. That is the negative aspect of the command to keep the Sabbath. No work. Not by the father, nor by the mother or children or servants or slaves or animals or even by hired hands. No work.

The Sabbath, however, was more than a day of no work but it was a holy convocation, that is, a day of assembly, a day when the assembly is called together for the purpose of delighting in God (Isaiah 58:13-14). Eleven times this phrase is used in Leviticus 23. God established all of these feasts for the specific purpose of calling His people together to honor Him and to glorify His name.

It was observed by every family. Not everyone could go to the Tabernacle or the Temple every Sabbath day. Some would live too far away. Others would be sick or otherwise unable to come to the great assembly at the Tabernacle or the Temple. God said, that does not matter. You observe this in your home. If you cannot come to where my name is, to the Tabernacle or to the Temple, you gather in your home, abstaining from work and meeting together before God in your homes. This then is the Sabbath. A stoppage of work to gather before God.

What purpose did the Sabbath serve?

It served as refreshment, a time to take a breath. Exodus 23:12 uses three different words to describe this purpose.

First, they were to rest, that is, stop work. To cease and desist. That does not necessarily mean relaxation but simply a work stoppage.

Secondly, their animals were also to rest but the idea here implies that the animals were at their leisure to lay down and relax.

The final word though is refreshment, a time to stop and take a breath. I think it is significant that he uses this word to refer to the son of the slave woman and to the stranger who is hired to work by the Israelite. Those on the lowest of the totem pole of Hebrew society were to profit, to be refreshed by the Sabbath. This is in keeping with the teachings of Jesus about the Sabbath. In Mark 2:27 we find Jesus replying to those who were accusing His disciples of breaking the Sabbath that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. You see, God’s intention was that the Sabbath be both a physical and a spiritual refreshment to those who needed it.

It served as a sign of their God (Exodus 31:13). God wanted His people to know Him and one of the ways in which He revealed Himself to them was through the setting aside of the Sabbath as a constant reminder of who God is and of His sanctifying relationship to His people.

This sign of the Sabbath was a reminder of God’s mighty works.

These works began with creation (Compare Exodus 31:17 with Hebrews 4:3-5). Now God does not get tired but we do and so we understand that the need for refreshment but why does God stop to take a breath? The writer of Hebrews tells us why God stopped to take a breath. He had finished His work. Nothing else needed to added. Nothing else needed to be done. God had created the perfect world for mankind but mankind through sin destroyed that perfection but God through the revealing of Himself to His people and through the revealing of Jesus Christ to this world made it possible for us to enter into that perfect work, that rest provided for us from the foundation of the world and has again made available through Jesus Christ.

These works continued with deliverance (Deuteronomy 5:15). The second generation who received the Ten Commandments in the book of Deuteronomy were told, “Do not forget that you were slaves but I brought you out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of that helpless condition and made you mine. For that reason, so that you will not forget where you have come from and who you now are, God’s chosen people, I have set aside the Sabbath to remind you of my work on your behalf.

This sign of the Sabbath was also a reminder that they were a sanctified people (Ezekiel 20:12). We saw this in Exodus but this is repeated in Exekiel. God wanted them to remember His mighty works, His creation and His deliverance but more than that, He wanted them to remember that they were His. They were sanctified. They were set apart. They were God’s chosen people. Ezekiel tells this in a most beautiful way. He tells how that God was walking along the road and saw this baby on the side of the road, abandoned, gasping for breath, trembling from the cold, on the verge of death. But God “who is rich in mercy”, God picked up this baby, the nation of Israel, and washed her and clothed her and fed her and then said, she is mine. That is what God means when He sanctifies.

Finally, this sign of the Sabbath was a reminder the LORD was their God (Ezekiel 20:20 with Mathew 12:5-8, this account is more extensive than Mark’s or Luke’s accounts of this event). Remember when Jesus told the accusers of His disciples that Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. He proclaims, in a way that with hindsight clearly identifies Him as God, He proclaims, “The priests work in the Temple on the Sabbath. There is one before you who is greater than the Temple. If you really know God, you would know that what God wants is not sacrifice or the keeping of the Sabbath but what God wants is mercy shown to those who need it. Therefore the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath was given to know God. Jesus points out that if they were really keeping the Sabbath, they would know Him and recognize Him as the Messiah sent from God.

This brings us actually to the third purpose of the Sabbath. It served as a shadow of the Christ to come (Colossians 2:16-17 and Galatians 4:8-11). There are a lot of people here today who are scared to death of legalism. You start setting up standards of behavior and they start screaming legalism. That is not legalism. Standards of behavior are necessary. Like Paul, we need to be gracious to those who disagree with our standards of behavior but we need to be careful about throwing around the label of legalism. It is slander when you refer to your brother in Christ as a legalist because he holds to some standard that is stricter than yours. Legalism according to these Scriptures is this, forsaking the substance for the shadow. Turning from Christ and demanding that one holds to the shadow for salvation. If someone says you have to keep the Sabbath (whether they call it Saturday or Sunday does not matter) in order to be saved, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow. When someone says that you have to participate in Mass or Communion in order to go to heaven, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow. When one says that you have to be baptized in water for salvation, they have forsaken the substance for the shadow.

The Sabbath points us to the Lord of the Sabbath. It reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the creator who rested from His work. He is the one who delivered Israel from the slavery of Egypt and delivers us from the slavery of sin and death. He is the one the sanctifies us as His bride. He is the one who is the LORD our God. Are you going to eat the living bread or the shadow of the bread? Only the living bread will satisfy.