Fourth in a series by Gerald Ripley
Is the devil going to see you in church next Sunday? Your attendance is being noted in the heavenlies. I don’t believe the devil can be everywhere at once so perhaps one of his minions observes and files a report on your whereabouts on Sunday mornings.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) This commandment was the turf for considerable conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus.
The Pharisees had numerous traditions they deemed as necessary regulations to ensure obedience to this commandment. Picking heads of grain and rubbing them together in one’s hands was considered to be work and therefore was prohibited. Giving medical attention was also prohibited unless a life was in danger. Fractures and sprains had to wait until Sabbath was ended. I wouldn’t be permitted to write this message on a Sabbath. That’s considered working.
The Pharisees’ conflict with Jesus came to a crescendo one Sabbath when a man with a withered hand was among the worshippers in the synagogue. Jesus saw the man. So did the Pharisees and everyone else in the synagogue. It’s possible the Pharisees had specifically encouraged the man to attend that day in order to entrap Jesus.
“Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” That’s what Jesus asked. And He was grieved at their lack of compassion, their hardness of heart.
Jesus healed the man. I’m certain the man was thrilled and grateful. I imagine the people thought, “Wow!” Then Jesus declared, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
Herein lies the KEY to appreciating and reaping God’s intent with this commandment. God gave the Sabbath to us because we NEED it. The Sabbath is very beneficial for us.
Resting on the Sabbath is like pressing a reset button for our spirit, our soul, and our body. Work six days a week. Rest on the Sabbath.
I do realize that before Jesus’ resurrection, the Sabbath was on Saturday. Early Church practice indicates Christians began to worship on Sundays since that was the day on which Jesus rose. (See Acts 20:7 and Revelation 1:10.) Whether a person observes the Sabbath day on Saturday or Sunday, the principle holds true. The Sabbath was made for us. We need it.
“Holy” has the element of being set apart for a special purpose related to God. A good way to keep the Sabbath day holy is to go to church and worship God. In Hebrews 10:25, the writer exhorts the brethren (which today includes God’s people, i.e. us) with the words “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.” As we turn from this wicked way, we experience blessings in our spirit, soul and body.
When we go to church on the Sabbath, our spirit gets nourished by hearing the word of God, by experiencing hymns and songs of praise, by receiving communion and also in praying. We have fellowship with God, our Creator and Redeemer.
Our soul gets strengthened as we are led to hope in God. Someone’s laughter warms our heart. So does a smile, a handshake, a hug.
Our body gets rejuvenated when we take a break from our usual work. We get re-energized and renewed with a change of pace.
God’s people should treat the Sabbath day differently than the other six days of the week. Resting from customary labor is an important part of obeying the commandment.
The prophet Jeremiah conveyed God’s message to the inhabitants of Judah to not do any work but keep the Sabbath day holy. Jeremiah also spoke of God’s blessing if the Sabbath day was kept holy. (Jeremiah 17:19-27)
When Nehemiah instituted reforms after the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem, he restored the Sabbath and reminded the nobles of Judah that their fathers had triggered trouble from God by profaning it. (Nehemiah 13:15-21)
Let us learn from Jeremiah and Nehemiah to not profane the Sabbath day but seek to keep it holy.
Let us learn from the hardness of heart of the Pharisees to have a heart of compassion.
Let us turn from any wicked way and reap God’s intended blessings in keeping the Sabbath day holy.
See you in church!
Fifty-two Wicked Ways of God’s People
- Lack of Compassion
- Profaning the Sabbath by treating it like any other day
- Forsaking our own assembling together.