God’s Unique Sabbath – Day Six : Lord of the Sabbath

So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28

This interesting story about Jesus and the disciples walking through the corn or wheat fields is recorded in three of the four gospels. Though we may have never once heard a message preached from these verses, Matthew, Mark and Luke each considered it so important that they included it among the highlights of Jesus’ teaching.

My personal belief is that our own ignorance of the Sabbath and the treasure that God intended it to be is one of the great losses of the present day church. God’s Sabbath came not only before the law, Sabbath came even before sin. Sabbath was built into the matrix of the universe. To put it into literary terms God’s Holy Sabbath was His denouement : “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.” Without understanding Sabbath in fact we will never be able to fully understand God’s story.

When the Pharisees started cluck-clucking about the disciples rubbing some grain in their hands on the seventh day, Jesus  had finally had enough of their cold analytical hypocrisy and proceeded to give them a Sabbath lesson. In that lesson, Jesus made it clear that the very central purpose of the Sabbath was for it to be a day of healing and blessing to man. God had not created man so the Sabbath could be observed, but He had created Sabbath to be a day of healing and blessing for man.

I fear we, the modern-day church, have gone far beyond just losing the gift of Sabbath; I believe we are losing even the last vestiges of memories of what it is. Sabbath is a precious gift and unless we battle to take back God’s Sabbath blessing

August 28 2008 102then we may one day run down like an unwound watch.

We once visited for several days a small village in Switzerland, On the Sunday morning of our stay, I left our hosts’ home and went for a long walk up through some of the most beautiful hill country I  have ever seen. On my walk I found a wonderful ancient church and as I watched a man drove up, unlocked the door and went in to ring the bells. How lovely they sounded as they peeled over the valley. It was an almost perfect picture. But then as he finished his duties, he left the church, locked the doors and drove away.

That image still lingers in my memory. Is that what we have become? Do we just go about our duties, ring the bells and go home? Do we ring the bells and no one any longer hears? Do we remember vaguely that it is God’s day but barely pause long enough to catch our spiritual breath? There will be a price to forgetting God’s Sabbath because it remains a blessed part of the creation from before there was sin. The Sabbath is built into not only the universe, but also into who we are as men and women. Sabbath rest, worship and prayer are the breath, the life and the foundation and basis from which we go out to do all the work which God has called us to do.

If we will choose to remember then God has a promise that we will look into on the seventh and final day. Stay tuned!

Love, Hate and a few Tears

I don’t often re-post but this really resonated with my own heart. I pray it will be a blessing to those who may read it also.

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As I sat in the grimy public washroom, with tears streaming (I mean streaming like a waterfall) down my face, I really was not sure why it was that I was crying. All that came to my mind was the verse from childhood, about sticks and stones, but not one person said one word to me.

All I can say is that my heart felt like it was broken, heavy, grieving by what I had heard.

lets go to the beginning …

It had been a chaotic week for hubby and I and our kids had all gone in different directions, so we decided to check out a restaurant that we had never tried before.

It was nice to have uninterrupted conversation, though my attention was constantly diverted to another table, where four people sat, one of whom spoke quite loudly. Eventually my attention was fully pulled from hubby’s words…

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The Unique Sabbath – Day Five – Keeping Sabbath

Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.  Exodus 31:16

Keep / Shamar – To hedge about (as with thorns) to guard; gen. to protect… Strong’s Hebrew/Aramaic Dictionary

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I remember clearly my grandmother’s small front yard. There, around the edges of that bit of grass and pressing out ever so slightly into the sidewalk was a short hedge or barberry bushes. How I hated those tiny shrubs! Whenever I would brush my leg a bit too closely or if I ran my hands ever so gently over the tops, the small, almost invisible thorns would reach out and quickly grab hold of a bit of skin. Rarely could the barb be found and usually a few days needed to go by before my skin would somehow push out the invader and become whole again.

Grandmother planted those tiny guardians of the front yard to protect her grass area from becoming a shortcut for any of us as we headed around her corner on the way to the elementary school down the street. She was wise. She knew that neither signs, nor verbal warnings would do any more than stimulate childish retaliation. Her secret defense was the guard of thorns.

God has chosen to create one day out of seven in order to be a garden of rest for us, His children. The day was uniquely created as a gift. As Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man…” Mark 2:27. Before there was law and even before there was sin – there was Sabbath.

Sabbath is a gift but it is a fragile one. God has woven into the DNA of our bodies, minds and spirits, the need to delight in a Sabbath rest. This gift can be so easily trampled by the world around us, by the hustle of events and even by our own busy thoughts. Keeping Sabbath is not about pointing to rules or yelling at the neighbors to turn down their hip-hop music. Keeping Sabbath is about planting an internal hedge of thorns to slow down the buffalo stampede of our own minds, hearts and desires. On that day we are given a free choice. Just as God Himself rested on the Sabbath, so we can choose to join Him in that rest, Sabbath is a trusting pause between knowing that while there is  always important work to be done, God’s will includes a rest to guard and keep as we find a rest for our soul.

The Unique Sabbath – Day Four- The Delight

KIMG0902If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight… Isaiah 58:13

It was more than forty years ago and we had driven through the night out of Nevada, through Lake Tahoe and then gently descended into the area surrounding Sacramento California. Of all the new sights and sounds for this New England boy, the one that lasts till today was the aroma of the acacia trees. It was a fragrance I had never known and it stays with me as the unique and beautiful signature of that moment.

Peeking out from the sometimes grayness of our daily grind God has created a day that is meant to carry the very essence of His presence. His Sabbath is given to us, not as a dour demand but as a place of delight. On the Sabbath day there is a window open through which the sweet breeze of Heaven can blow. Once that fragrance fills our soul we will forever long for the day when it will never end.

Uniqueness of the Sabbath – Day Three- Resting in the Garden

At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.  Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.                              John 19:41:41-42

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Just as the Father rested on the seventh day after all His work was finished, so also did our Lord Jesus. On the cross when He spoke the words, “It is finished!” he bowed his head and began His Sabbath. Jesus entered into a Sabbath rest from all His work, and suffering. He passed beyond the limits of time and into the presence of the Father.

Just as God rested in the garden while He watched over Adam and Eve so Jesus rested in that garden tomb as He watched over the future salvation of every one of us. There was no more time for the earthly ministry of Christ. It had all been completed perfectly and at just the right time. He rested in that garden tomb waiting for the Spirit’s breath on the third day. How amazing was it then, that on the third day Mary Magdalene met Him, thinking that He was the gardener!

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

   Robert Lowry

Why the Sabbath is Unique – Day Two – Healing

KIMG0841 And a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus,they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Matthew 12:10

Understanding how we can honor the Sabbath should begin by seeing how Jesus acted on the day of rest. One thing we seem to find over and over in the gospels is that He seemed to take special delight in choosing the Sabbath day for healing.

When the Pharisees were upset about seeing Jesus heal on the Sabbath He explained, ” it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath”  Matthew 12:12.  In other words, our day of rest is not simply a ceasing of all activity. Jesus was no less active on the Sabbath than on any other day. The Sabbath rest can be a day of miraculous restoration. At the finish of creation, God’s assessment of His work was, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…” Genesis 1:31 

But today when we look out around the world, even the rosiest of the rosiest views is that not all is good any longer. In fact there is incredible pain, suffering, sin and loss. Jesus came into our dark world to give us the breath of life again. He came to the weary and heavy laden to give a new Sabbath rest for our souls. The Sabbath is there at all times and in all places as God’s special day of healing, hope and restoration. It is a day set aside not simply to get rest while we watch TV, but to switch our focus to a service that gives life and rest to others.

Jesus accomplished more as He rested by the well and slept in the boat than the disciples did while buying food or pulling hard at the oars. God has given us the Sabbath day of rest as a gift. He has given us this unique day and waits by the well to see how we will choose to use His gift in the lives of those around us. Day one the question was, “Have you received God’s gift of the Sabbath? Day two let’s ask,  “To whom have we given it away?”