Sundaykeepers: An Infringement or A Liberation?

1924 Olympic Photo
1924 Olympic Photo

“Instead of involving ourselves in what pleases us, the Sabbath is to be a day devoted to what pleases God!” (Franklin).

Eric Lidell  (in the film that portrayed his life, “Chariots of Fire”), was a participant in the 1924 Olympics.   As one of the world’s premier runners who was unwilling to run one day he considered the Sabbath.  If he would have entered the 100 meter event on that day–the Olympics, rather than God, would have become the “god” that determined his righteousness.

Referenced Scripture: God’s Instructions for us on the Sabbath Day–

[21]  “Thus says the Lord:  Take heed to yourselves and for the sake of your lives bear no burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in through the gates of Jerusalem.  [22]  And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy (set apart to the worship of God), as I commanded your fathers”  (Jeremiah 17:21-22 AMP).

SABBATH BACKGROUND:  “HOW LONG HAS THERE BEEN A SABBATH?”

“THUS THE heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  [2] And on the seventh day God ended His work, which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. [Heb. 4:9, 10.]  [3]  And God blessed (spoke good of) the seventh day, set it apart as His own, and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all His work which He had created and done”  (Genesis 2:1-3 AMP).

*When did God make observance of the Sabbath official?

1.  CAIN and ABEL – Genesis 4:1-8.

2.  The first time the word SABBATH is used in Scripture is in The Second Book of Moses Commonly Called EXODUS:

“See, the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day the bread for two days; let every man leave his place on the seventh day.  [30] So the people rested on the seventh day.  [31] The house of Israel called the bread manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey”  (Exodus 16:29-31).

3.  The Ten Commandments (4th Command).

*How long has there been a problem with the observance of the SABBATH?

Obviously, CAIN had a problem with the SABBATH observance.

Obviously, the Israelites had a problem with the SABBATH observance:

— The Exodus manna.

— The Ten Commandments.

— The Folks in Jeremiah’s day.

— Today!

*Why is it so important?

— God created it and called for its observance!

— God “blesses” those who observe it and withholds His blessing from those who don’t!

— God wants us to prove Him (the law of the ‘double blessing’)!

COMING FROM A CHURCH BACKGROUND:

I have come to understand over the years that PEOPLE with a Christian background– usually believe their only major obligation is to attend a “church service” ; one that usually takes about an hour in duration.

The most diligent may also attend a Bible Study and or a second service, but few see the SABBATH as an entire day to be observed.  When people from this background learn about the SABBATH day in Scripture, they have little experience in how to keep it.

The SABBATH Question Today:  “What is the purpose of the Sabbath?”

This question was addressed by JESUS to the religious leaders of His day in all four of the Gospels.  I want to direct your attention to His conversation on The SABBATH Question:

ONE SABBATH while Jesus was passing through the fields of standing grain, it occurred that His disciples picked some of the spikes and ate [of the grain], rubbing it out in their hands.  But some of the Pharisees asked them,  Why are you doing what is not permitted on the Sabbath days?  And Jesus replied to them, saying, Have you never so much as read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him?  How he went into the house of God and took and ate the [sacred] loaves of the showbread, which it is not permitted for any except only the priests to eat, and also gave to those [who were] with him?  And He said to them,  The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.  And it occurred on another Sabbath that when He went into the synagogue and taught, a man was present whose right hand was withered.  And the scribes and the Pharisees kept watching Jesus to see whether He would [actually] heal on the Sabbath, in order that they might get [some ground for] accusation against Him.  BUT He was aware all along of their thoughts, and He said to the man with the withered hand,  Come and stand here in the midst.  And he arose and stood there.  Then Jesus said to them, I ask you, is it lawful and right on the Sabbath to do good [so that someone derives advantage from it] or to do evil, to save a life [and make a soul safe] or to destroy it?  The He glanced around at them all and said to the man, Stretch out your hand!  And he did so, and his hand was fully restored like the other one.  BUT they were filled with lack of understanding and senseless rage and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus”  (Luke 6:1-11 AMP).

Are Your Beliefs A Burden or A Blessing?

Too Much Luggage
Too Much Luggage

  Was this picture of ‘Too Much Luggage” to be burdened with, what Jeremiah was speaking about, “bear no burden on the Sabbath”?

The following are some LAWS that either still are or once were in effect in various places in the United States:

— In Iowa, it was a LAW that one armed piano players must perform for free.

— In Wyoming, you cannot take a picture of a rabbit during the month of June.

— If you keep your donkey in a bathtub in Georgia, you may be arrested.

— In Harper Woods, Michigan, it is illegal to paint a sparrow and then sell it as a parakeet.

— In Connecticut, a pickle must bounce to be considered a pickle.

— In Hood River, Oregon, you need a license to juggle.

And in the State of Vermont, it is illegal to whistle underwater!

I can imagine that the stories behind these LAWS are just as humorous as the LAWS themselves.  Did someone drown underwater during a whistling contest in Vermont?

Two Incidents Concerning the SABBATH LAW Are Brought Forward in Luke 6:

The mounting opposition from the religious leaders was reaching a climax.

1.  The first occurred on “the second-first Sabbath (literal translation).  EXPLAINED: “the first Sabbath was the first one after the Passover.

2.  The second was next after that: 

Wiersbe:  “By their strict and oppressive rules the Pharisees and scribes had turned the Sabbath Day into a BURDEN instead of a BLESSING God meant it to be, and JESUS challenged both their doctrine and their authority.”

What does it mean to ‘not work’ on the Sabbath?

The SABBATH was made for humanity not humanity for the SABBATH!  The Sabbath is to be a BLESSING for us.  It’s a GIFT, not a set of rules and regulations to burden us, but a gift to be received.

Burdens or Loads we sometimes carry as “Sundaykeepers”–

According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary (page 145), burden, a heavy load, but also psychological and spiritual anxiety (Deut. 1:12; Gal. 6:2, 5).  Now the Hebrew word for burden in Jeremiah 17:21-24 is referring to ‘carrying goods’, but I believe it can also refer to the psychological and spiritual ‘burdens’.  The ones which can weigh heavy on our spirit (heart), to the point of feeling a load upon on our shoulders. 

How then, can we lighten the load?

JESUS tells us, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you rest. [I will ease and relief and refresh your souls.]”  (Matthew 11:28 AMP).

A “Sundaykeepers” Burden–

Oh how I remember when our kids were living at home and the JOY of going to church on Sundays.  Sounds great doesn’t it? But many times, the experience would become a curse instead of a blessing.  A load that parents must bear!  Really?

Waking them up on Sunday mornings, fighting with them to get ready– so we could leave and arrive on time.  And when they were little, and riding in the car, they would say such awesome and inspiring words to mom and dad: “He hit me; her leg is on my side of the backseat; I want to go back home.”  And when we all arrived at our destination (the “church”)…we’d climb out of the car and say, “Try to smile everyone, okay?  It’s Sunday!”  Then Dianne and I praying as we walked down the steps to the Worship Center’s entrance, that God would accept our thanksgiving and praises for the Sunday services.  Was I carrying too much luggage? Was I carrying a load, a burden before Worship ever began?  Could I even worship at all?  The answer was obvious:  “NO!”

If I would have only meditated on the words of the prophet Jeremiah during those particular Sunday mornings:  “And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day”  (Jeremiah 17:22).

OUR BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF THE SABBATH SHOULD BE BASED ON GOD’S RULES!

God’s Word [His “rules”] are for our benefit and not our misery. 

God doesn’t say, I’ve got you now, you dirty rotten sinner!  You’ve broken My rules again (ha, ha, ha).  Our beliefs should have its basis on God’s Rules (His Word) and under the Lordship of Jesus.

“He is Lord of the Sabbath”–

O.T. :  Many Laws and few principles.

N.T. :  Two laws, many principles.

Christians are not required to keep the SABBATH LAW but should observe the SABBATH PRINCIPLE:

“[9]  So then, there is still awaiting a full and complete Sabbath rest reserved for the [true] people of God:  [10] For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own [Gen. 2:2]”  (Hebrews 4:9-10).

QUESTION:  “What is Our Duty then on the Sabbath?”

Some may say…it’s to REST!  But ‘resting’ is not our duty.  RESTING is only one of the things we should do on the SABBATH.  I like how Moses puts ‘keeping the Sabbath’ for the Israelites and the sign given by Jehovah God:

“It is a sign between Me and the Israelites forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased and was refreshed”  (Exodus 31:17).

Some may say…to do good to others!  But this is not our duty!  HELPING OTHERS is only one of the things we should do on the SABBATH.

ANSWER:  Jeremiah 17:22, 27   tells us, first and foremost, “Keep the sabbath day holy”.

The word “HOLY” means to “sanctify to separate from the world; to consecrate or dedicate to God.”  I like the way Dan Allender speaks about the word “holy” in his book SABBATH:

“Holy beauty must be crafted from material that’s loved.”

HOLY means set aside, not lost in the sea of everything else.

Throughout Scripture, God stresses the importance of making this day a holy day:

“But if you diligently listen to and obey Me, says the Lord, and bring in no burden [‘physical’ or ‘mental’] through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath say holy (set apart to the worship of God), to do no work”  (Jeremiah 17:24).

THE BLESSINGS RECEIVED DURING JEREMIAH’S DAY AND THE BLESSINGS RECEIVED TODAY!

I wanted to focus on the BLESSINGS for being “Sundaykeepers” and not all the religious implications of observing the SABBATH:

National Perpetuity–

JERUSALEM was the center of the theocracy during Jeremiah’s day and it should remain forever.  The essential and fundamental position occupied on the Sabbath amongst Mosaic institutions of his day.   It was in this way that the idea and authority of Jehovah God be perpetuated in the heart of Israel.

National Prosperity–

It is a godly banner raised by Israel, presented with a promise, to the surrounding regions and nations.  There is no lack of gifts nor of willingness to give.  Only a time of PEACE and abounding HARVESTS.

National Unity–

JERUSALEM is the ‘bull’s eye’; focal point, the meeting place of many ‘spiritual trains’:  “…from the cities of Judah…from the land of Benjamin…from the Lowland, from the hill country, from the South”  (Jeremiah 17:26). In this way, the brotherhood and the solidarity of the people were sealed.

National Faith–

This is the national outcome, even the beginning of religious observances.  It is the tendency of true religion (true Christianity today), it increase upon itself and cannot remain stationary.  Therefore this outburst of enthusiasm of Divine services are evident in peoples lives.

HOW ARE TODAY’S “SUNDAY-KEEPERS” VIEWED BY OTHERS?

Now that should be easy to answer at the end of this blog:  Insert the word “Christian” in place of the word “National” :

Christian Perpetuity–

Christian Prosperity–

Christian Unity–

Christian Faith–

When you enter your particular place of worship this week, to honor and praise His holy Name during the Sabbath, remember to separate yourself from life’s ‘doings’, ‘stresses’, heaviness and be liberated and refreshed on the Sabbath Day:

BLESS the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me,

bless His holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits–

(Psalm 103:1-2)

Set Free on the SABBATH
Set Free on the SABBATH

6 Replies to “Sundaykeepers: An Infringement or A Liberation?”

  1. Mel this was really interesting. The part about taking children to church on a Sunday particularly resonated with me! How often I sit through a service on Sunday morning with my heart anywhere but where I am…
    Convicting and yet encouraging. Thankyou.

    Like

  2. Hi Mel, thank you for this post I liked the fact that you looked at the blessing and the ‘curse’ of the Sabbath. Not many people keep the ‘actual 7th-day’ Sabbath because of stereotypes and prejudices concerning it as well as faulty teaching on who the Sabbath is for, it’s not for the Jews it for mankind! I understand that the Sabbath can be perceived and experienced as a burden, I have been here myself and it took me a long time to see and experience the value of the Sabbath. I also think it’s not something that people can be forced into, it’s a desire that God puts in your heart, just like the desire to follow any principle/law in the Bible – some will feel strongly convicted to whilst others will not. But there is an amazing blessing when we keep the Sabbath that was ordained by God in Genesis, we can see the blessing already played out in the Gospels through what Yeshua did on that day. In the new year I hope to share a series on my own experiences of the Sabbath, and what God has taught me concerning the purpose and blessing of the Sabbath day. I would invite anyone with an open heart and mind who wants to find out what I believe the Sabbath is REALLY all about to read it.

    Thanks again Mel 🙂

    Like

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