Friday, November 6, 2009

Understanding Sabbath Part 1

The following posts are taken from a couple of sermons I preached earlier in the year.

Have you ever wondered about the Sabbath day and what it means for your life?

It’s one of the Ten Commandments so it must be fairly important.

1: Have no other God’s before me – straight forward in our NT context.
2: Don’t make anything as an idol – again straight forward.
3: Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain – yep of course.
5: Honour your father and your mother – for sure, and now you have to love your enemy as yourself.
6: Don’t commit murder – obviously and building on that now even to hate is as murder.
7: Don’t commit adultery – yep and even to lust with your eyes is as adultery in the NT.
8: Don’t steal – seems obvious but perhaps we need some help here, for 1st Century Christians, if you had two coats while someone had none, that was stealing. Big challenge for us in the global village.
9: don’t bear false witness against your neighbour – again pretty clear, no lying etc.
10: don’t covet your neighbour’s wife or any of your neighbour’s possessions – also obvious and also a big challenge in our materialistic and consumer driven society.

It’s pretty clear and pretty straightforward that we are still to keep these nine commandments. As New Testament believers, they are even expanded in their scope and applicability to our lives.

What about number 4 though?

4: Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy – what does that even mean?

• Does that mean go to church every Sunday?
• Isn’t the seventh day Saturday though?
• What about if you are a shift worker?
• What about if you just have a little part time job and have to work just Sunday mornings? Can you then go to church on a Sunday night? Is that all good?
• Is that even what it’s all about?
• What’s the story in regards to Sabbath in the 21st Century?

Some key scriptures...

Genesis 2:2-3
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Exodus 34:21
Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest.

Exodus 20:8-11
8"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall work and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
12 "Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.

Before we begin to unpack the Sabbath though we need to look at the concept of work.

Six days you shall work and then one day rest. What should that work look like?

Let me suggest 4 types of work that we should involve ourselves in.

1. Work to provide

2 The 3:10
Anyone that doesn’t work, shouldn’t eat.

Most people have jobs and work in order to provide themselves, and hopefully others as well with resource to live life.

We live in a monetary economy rather than an agricultural economy, so we work (at various jobs, in various industries or services, which I trust is ethical) for money in order to clothe, house, feed, and supply our families.

You don’t and won’t always necessarily enjoy this sort of work.

We should be excellent in this work, as unto the Lord, be honest, be diligent, be punctual, go the extra mile, keep a good attitude and right spirit, and work hard.

2. Work of dominion

Gen 1:26-30
26 Then God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created human beings in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

This is the work of stewarding creation.

Caring for animals and the environment.

Developing things, creating things, inventing things, painting, writing.

Doing things out of worship and to the glory of God.

Living sustainable.

All of those things and others I would put under the heading of the work of dominion.

Sadly though many of us just live status quo in regards to these sorts of issues.

Abdicated everything to the City Council or our MP, or weird greeny hemp type people.

God always intended though that his people would take dominion and steward and care for creation.

3. Work of blessing fellow believers

Gal 6:9-10
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

The bible encourages us to do good to each other at every opportunity.

4. Work of partnering with the Holy Spirit in building God’s Kingdom

Matthew 6:10
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Witness to the world around us through presence and proclamation of the gospel.

Outreach through service and social concern.

Living the ‘way’ of Jesus as light in the dark.

So before we even go further and talk about Sabbath and rest, let us ensure that we are committed, diligent, and hard working Christians.

Not people absorbed only in our careers and the work of provision but in all four types of work.

Are you an active worker in all four areas?

To be continued...

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