THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SABBATH AND JESUS’ INVITATION TO REST

We’ve been working our way through the gospel of Matthew in our Sunday school class, and this week we started in on chapter 12. As Tracey and I read it early Sunday morning at our kitchen table, as we usually do before class time, it became apparent to me how chapter 12 really is a continuation to Jesus’ invitation given at the end of 11. He said, “Come to me and I will give you rest.”

As chapter 12 begins we see Jesus and his disciples getting into trouble with the religious Jews once again, only this time it’s for picking and eating grain on the Sabbath. The Pharisees said, “Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” Jesus’ response is a bit of a jab at their pride because he says, “Have you not read…?” Clearly this was to show them, while they may have known the written word, they really didn’t have a clue about the Spirit behind it. Jesus proceeds to give them an example from David’s life, when he and his men ate the consecrated bread from the Temple, which would have been unlawful. He then went on to tell them about how the priests violated the Sabbath all the time. Then he drops this on them,”I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.”

If the Pharisees didn’t have reason to be angry with Jesus before they sure do now. You mean to tell me Jesus is comparing himself to David, the priests and even saying he, himself, is greater than the temple? You see Jesus is our great Priest-King, and now that he has come the focus is shifting from a building to a person. Remember “the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us’? Jesus’ body, which includes all believers, is now the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Jesus invites us to come to him for rest. Could it be that Jesus is, and has always been, our real Sabbath? He tells them “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” You see the religious leaders had taken the Law of God, meant to point toward Christ, and it became more important than even loving each other. They had become deceived into thinking it was better to keep their rules than to feed the hungry or heal someone, especially if it happened to fall on their day of rest.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he told us “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” In other words now that Christ has come he is where we go to find rest.

How do we enter into this rest in Christ, you might ask? Well, the short answer is simply by faith. You see according to the writer of Hebrews the children of Israel never entered into rest because of unbelief. We all enter the same way and that’s by faith in the promise of God. God had told Israel the land was theirs and all they had to do was enter in and take it, but they didn’t. They sent a few spies in to come back with a report. Of course ten of the twelve didn’t think they could take it; so they never received what was promised. Much later Joshua and Caleb, the only two that believed God, finally did enter but it was only after the rest of them died in the wilderness.

As you read through Hebrews 4 you will read where we are told they were instructed to rest from their “own works.” You see the real rest Jesus is offering us is a rest from our own works, the works of the flesh or self effort. The only requirement God expects of us is to believe in the one he has sent, which of course is Jesus Christ. If we live our lives believing in him, the works of God will be displayed in our lives, and that is much different from our own works which come from the flesh.

In the end we discover Jesus is our King-priest, greater than the temple and the Lord of the Sabbath.Therefore he could do whatever he wanted on the Sabbath, and was justified in whatever he did. He was and is above all rituals and regulations. If you watch closely throughout the gospels you find Jesus being confronted over and over again by the religious leaders because he constantly did things that ran contrary to their understanding of God’s Law. While they kept pointing to the Law, Jesus subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, pointed to himself. While the Pharisees thought the Law was what it was all about in reality it was only there to point us to Jesus Christ, and even now he invites us to come to him, our true Sabbath, for rest.

Louie

Advertisements

REST FOR RIGHT NOW

God promised the Children of Israel rest but most never entered in. Hebrews 4 tells us we may find ourselves in the same situation without faith. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” If we find ourselves in an uproar and our peace drained away could it be we aren’t walking in faith? Maybe we “know” what the Bible says but we aren’t walking in it.

God has promised us rest also and tells us it is only found in Christ. The key to this rest is the word “Today.” We can only have it today for today we can’t look too far down the road in anticipation because God promised us “Today-right now- if you will hear his voice, and not harden your hearts.” After all the reason for a lack of rest is because we are failing to live in the moment isn’t it? God is an ever-present God and his rest is for “Right now.” When tomorrow comes he will provide the “Right now” rest we need but until then take a deep breath ahhhh, and rest in him.

Written by Louie

SHORT OF THE REST

Google Images

One of the main themes throughout the Bible is Moses leading the Children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. I won’t rehearse the whole story here, but I would like to look at what this means to us.

In the 3rd and 4th chapter of Hebrews we read about the promised rest for the people of God. For those that don’t know, or maybe just don’t remember, let me say this. It was only the children born in the desert that entered the land. All of those that originally came out of Egypt made the decision to not go in because of unbelief. God had promised them the land but upon their scouting it out they became aware of giants living there. Rather than trusting God to give it to them they trusted only in what their eyes saw and their own supposed ability to take the land.  They failed to enter into God’s promised rest but it wasn’t because he didn’t offer it to them. It was simply because they didn’t believe God’s report and believed their own.

Hebrews 4:1-2 tells us we too may fail to enter for the same unbelief they had. “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.” So we see this promised rest hinges on our faith or, to put it another way, our willingness to receive what is promised.

Rest seems to be God’s plan throughout the whole Bible starting on the seventh day of creation. We are told God created man on the sixth day and on the seventh he rested. It seems his intention all along has been for He and us to enjoy this rest together. Adam’s very first day on the planet was a day of rest. God finished his work and rested but this rest has eluded most of us because of disobedience.

God raised up leaders throughout history to lead his people into this rest. Of course each of them was in fact only a shadow or picture of the one and only real rest-giver Jesus Christ. Of course Moses didn’t lead them into rest because he himself wasn’t allowed to enter. If we aren’t enjoying this rest we can’t lead anyone else either. After Moses we see that Joshua did in fact bring them into the land but not the promised rest. There is a Sabbath rest for the people of God. We that have entered the rest know it is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ invitation to enter his rest still stands he simply says “come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and you will find rest for your soul.”

The rest I’m talking about isn’t necessarily a physical rest but it is rest none the less. The Hebrews writer is teaching us about rest inwardly even in the face of upheaval and trial outwardly. He explains to us that the Word of God is what divides the two. We can have rest in our spirit even when our outer man is wasting away.

God gave the Israelites vineyards they didn’t plant, wells they didn’t dig and houses they didn’t build. Although I believe this in a literal sense I think there is a spiritual implication for us. In Christ we have sustenance or prosperity (vineyards) we didn’t work for, living water (wells) and a mansion in the Father’s house. God has the same requirement for us as he had for Israel and that is to receive his promise by faith. There is a rest for the people of God and it is only found in Christ. I pray you don’t miss it.

Written by Louie