A COMPLETED WELL-THOUGHT-OUT PLAN
So the materials were chosen and specified. The design was completed and the blueprints for the wilderness tabernacle were all arranged through Moses by God. Moses had been instructed on just how to go about building the wilderness tabernacle. They had the crews lined up to do the work. Thanks to all the years of slavery they were blessed with many skilled craftsmen as well as common laborers who had their hearts in the work. Two leaders had been chosen from among the people to help Moses; they each were hand-picked by God. It was almost time to start building!
Thank you for joining our ongoing on-line bible study called COME AS A CHILD which we hold on this blog every Thursday. I welcome your participation and comments. If you missed last week’s lesson you may find it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/god-equips-the-ordinary-for-the-extraordinary-come-as-a-child-lesson-175/. Today in Lesson 176 we continue making our way through Exodus; specifically Chapter 31.
AN IMPORTANT LAST MINUTE REMINDER
But; God had just one more important reminder before the actual work could begin on the tabernacle. God would not let Moses leave the holy mountain until he heard these familiar instructions one more time.
REMEMBER THE SABBATH
God wanted to remind Moses again to be SURE to tell the people that they MUST observe His Sabbaths.
I wonder what God thinks now when He looks down on the earth to see if anyone is still following those instructions.?
But surely what applied to those ancient people living in the wilderness before the time of Christ does not now apply to us; right?
We might want to think about that a little longer. Do we still need to be keeping Sabbath?
DO WE STILL NEED TO BE KEEPING SABBATH?
Before we think about this question more by considering the past and the present; let’s think ahead to the future.
What does the scripture say about Sabbath in the future?
I think an old prophet named Jeremiah can fill us in:
(Jeremiah 31:31-34 New International Version (NIV)
31 “The days are coming,”declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,
declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
NO NEED FOR STONE TABLETS IN THE DAYS TO COME
This is a sure portrait of the future prophesied by Jeremiah speaking of all followers of God – keeping Sabbath in the days to come.
So we all WILL be keeping Sabbath again; but there will be no need to teach this Sabbath concept anymore, because it will be written on our hearts and in our minds. We will no longer need tablets of stone to remind us; Christ will have renewed our minds and the love of God will be automatic in our hearts.
What an exciting day that will be!
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT
But what about the past and what about the present? What is to happen in the middle between the time of Israel and the time that Christ returns when we are all permanently transformed and changed into the eternal children of God?
That is a hard question with many possibilities.
So many disagree on this subject; and we are even told by Paul not to judge one another about this. That makes it very hard to proclaim truth because many will misunderstand a simple statement proclaiming the truth and take it to be judgment.
Here I remind you; the two concepts are not the same. Because I proclaim truth to you does not mean that I judge you. Only God can do that. Yet; if I proclaim the truth of the Gospel to you as best I understand it; I am not to judge you; and you are not to judge me either.
TRULY SEEK GOD’S ANSWERS AND HE WILL GRANT YOUR PRAYERS
My best advice on Sabbath observance for the present is to seek God’s answers for yourself, your family and your own life. Whatever you come to believe after seeking God’s answers; you would be best served to believe the proclamation of the truth (as God has shown it to you) with all of your heart and act on it as the scriptures say. If you act on what God is showing you now; you will not need to worry about being judged in eternity.
MY PERSONAL OPINION ON SABBATH
With that very wide and general statement made; I have taken my own advice and formed some of my own spiritual practices for Sabbath. From this point forward I will be giving you my own personal opinion as to what we are to do about Sabbath. I will explain as much as time allows; but if you disagree with me; I would strongly urge you to forget my words and keep meditating on the holy scriptures. Study the life of Jesus on your own. Listen carefully to His voice. Follow Him. Follow whatever God is showing you; as I too must do myself.
IN MY OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY TOWARD GOD
As for my own search and seeking; I had to look carefully at the words of Jesus first. Christ came and died for our sins and gave us the gift of salvation. He lived perfectly in the days when men were judged by the law; keeping every commandment. Those commandments included the one to rest on the Sabbath (with His allowed exceptions, which the scriptures spell out for us, since He IS LORD of the Sabbath.) The emphasis on the Sabbath keeping of Jesus, like everything else He did on earth and in heaven; was love.
The actions that we have to study from the history of Jesus in Sabbath keeping tell us it is acceptable to do what is necessary for maintaining and nourishing life and for healing.
It seemed Jesus kept Sabbath on the seventh day of the week of the Hebrew calendar. This would have been the same as the ancient Israelites.
Jesus was a Jew. He followed the law and the traditions of the Jewish people. It was not until his death and resurrection that the law was partially fulfilled. I say “partially” because there is more to come. In the present times we have received salvation through His holy sacrifice; but in the future we will receive even more of the blessings of this; a permanent transformation by God into eternity.
MORE BLESSINGS IN THE FUTURE
Christ’s own words were “I did not come to do away with the law; but to fulfill it.” The first four steps of the New Covenant of God to His people have been fulfilled. There are three more steps that are yet to come. Those three steps include Christ’s return; the transformation of human beings into eternal spirits and the receiving of the new heavens and the new earth. We still have a lot to anticipate in the total fulfillment of the New Covenant; but without Jesus; none of it would be possible.
NO MORE CONDEMNATION
Once Christ fulfilled the sacrificial requirements of the law; we were no longer under condemnation. That means to me that no matter how many laws I break in the future; as long as I confess my sins to Christ; I stand forgiven and I am saved. No one can take my eternal life because I have omitted to follow or practice the letter of the law.
OBEDIENCE IS A LOVING RESPONSE TO THE GIFT OF SALVATION
Salvation is a free gift from God; but obedience is a loving response to God’s gift. I am no longer held to the letter of the law; but if I love God I will still want to keep the law in my heart; yet not out of legal obligation but because of love. Christ has paid for my sins and I am free; but out of love and respect for God the Father, Jesus Christ and God’s Holy Spirit, I desire to keep God’s commandments out of love.
IF YOU LOVE ME YOU WILL KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS
Jesus also said “If you love me; you will keep my commandments.” Do you love Him?
He did not say “If you love me you will keep nine of the commandments; or five of the commandments; He said if you love Me you will keep MY commandments. He summed up all of the commandments into one word once when he was talking to his disciples. That word is love.
He repeated this again in John 14:21; “Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” This was Jesus speaking and telling us; “if you love Me; you will keep My commandments.” This was during the time of Christ, in the times of the New Testament.
ONE QUESTION IS ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO SETTLE THE ARGUMENT
All I really have to ask you concerning the past, present and future is: Do you love Jesus? Will you be keeping His commandments?
Now; let’s go all the way back to the past again. Let’s think some more about this original message that God gave to Moses on the mountain.
A SIGN AND A REMEMBRANCE
Not only was this to be a reminder to the people; but it was to be a sign between God and the people for generations to come. God had not given a sign since the Days of Noah and the rainbow. Now God stated if the people kept His Sabbaths it was to be a sign that He was the One Holy LORD of all. This was the only commandment where God used the word “remember.” “Remember” the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.
God had brought this up to Moses many times before; but once again He is putting the heavy emphasis on His Sabbath observance. This seemed to be extremely important; and God repeated it over and over so that Moses would be sure to get this point.
God wanted everyone to REMEMBER. God wanted His people to observe the Sabbath and to keep it holy.
WHAT IS HOLINESS?
Just how would you go about keeping the Sabbath holy? God spelled this out in these same instructions. It was to be on the Seventh Day. No one was to work on this day. Everyone was to rest in the LORD.
God was so set on this happening with the people that He advised Moses of the severe consequences for anyone who disobeys this commandment. “Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. “ (Exodus 31:14)
You could think of it this way: Jesus was put to death because of our lack of keeping Sabbath (among many other sins.)
God was serious about His people keeping the Sabbath!
OBSERVING THE SEVENTH DAY
There is also a great emphasis put on the fact that the Sabbath comes on the Seventh Day. “For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of Sabbath rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. “ (Exodus 31:18)
As I mentioned before; God was serious about Sabbath keeping!
Many, many years later Jesus Christ was also just as serious. Once He explained that He did not do away with the law but He came to fulfill the law; He added another sentence, a very important set of words that say: “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18)
Did you catch that first part…..”till heaven and earth pass away?” I think it is important and significant to remember that part.
THOSE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
Then there is that other scripture in Matthew that speaks of how to teach the law: “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19.)
Who wants to argue with that one?
So many people have so much to say about the keeping of the law and how it has and hasn’t been done away with that a long time ago I made myself a rule; I decided I would listen to nothing but the voice of Jesus. I think the scriptures in red that are direct quotes from Jesus Christ top the other scriptures that anyone can give me regarding the Sabbath; or anything else for that matter. This has helped me to eliminate chaos in my own thinking.
WHERE THERE ARE HUMANS; THERE WILL BE CONFUSION
Even some of the disciples can confuse you on this one! Am I so bold to be calling the disciples of Jesus wrong? Certainly not! I’m saying we may not always interpret the meaning of their words correctly. I’m also saying they were imperfect human-beings just as we are. If you don’t believe that go and read about the life of Peter. Even the greatest among us are prone to misinterpretations.
FIDELITY TO THE ORIGINAL
Every time I get confused about the accuracy of the scriptures I backtrack and remember an old Josh McDowell saying which he taught to a group of believers one year-long ago at an Oasis retreat. Just four words in a short sentence: “fidelity to the original.”
That saying has become an anchor to my boat in the midst of deep, deep waters. What does it mean to me? Only the words of Jesus are completely dependable. Christ was with God when God created the world and He is an intricate part of The Godhead, as to being a part of the Trinity. I ALWAYS go back to the words of Jesus and hang my hat on every word that comes directly from THE WORD; especially when issues are confusing.
A LASTING COVENANT
So; thinking slowly through this time we are studying; all the way back to that time on the mountain when God was writing with his own hand and handing the tablets over to Moses. God went on to explain that the Israelites were to observe the Sabbath and celebrate it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.
The last time God had made a covenant with mankind before this was with Abraham, and before Abraham; Noah. Now God was using Moses to bring about His covenant for His people. This covenant was to be LASTING – forever.
Again and again God explains that this will be a sign between God and the people forever.
GOD KEEPS SABBATH
Of course God would not ask anything of the people that He would not participate in Himself. God always keeps Sabbath. He has sanctified this day forever. It is sacred time and it is set apart from other times.
God goes on to explain with the fact that in six days He made the heavens and the earth; then on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed. God set the first example for us to follow.
Here on the mountain with Moses, God is asking His people to pay attention to what He does and to imitate Him in the ways that they live. He is telling them how to rest and relax and be refreshed after all of their hard work and labor.
THE RIGHT WAY ON THE RIGHT DAY AS A SIGN FOREVER
After this last warning about always keeping Sabbath on the right day in the right way and forever as a sign; God gives Moses the two tablets of the law that had been written by His own hand.
All of this Sabbath keeping was very important to God. It was very, very important; important enough for God Himself to write in down on stone with his own finger.
Those stones must have felt very heavy as God handed them over to the waiting hands of Moses. Moses had a HUGE task before him as he walked back down that mountain to implement and carry out every word that God had written down for that new nation called Israel. They were to form a pattern of behavior that would influence very nation of the earth to turn toward the One True God of Heaven and Earth.
I ask you today to ponder how our nation fits into this picture. Are we remembering to keep Sabbath?