So far God and Moses have covered a lot of spoken instructions and information about how God wants this covenant that he is making with the Children of Israel to be executed and carried out. There are lots of conditions that God wishes for Moses to convey to His people.
Thank you for joining our ongoing on-line, chronological bible study called COME AS A CHILD that is presented in this blog every Thursday. Today we are studying from Exodus, Chapter 34. If you missed last week’s lesson; you may review it here: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/redemption/
FACTS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN ESTABLISHED
God and Moses have discussed the fact that there should never be any worship of idols. The people are to worship God and God alone.
They have clearly established the fact that God abhors pagan practices and wants nothing to do with the evil practices of idolatry.
It has also been clearly stated and established that God wishes for the people to observe the keeping of Unleavened Bread in order to remember the time of their redemption from Egypt.
God explained to Moses that every first-born to open the womb belonged to Him; and God expected the people to dedicate the first-born and consecrate their first-born as an offering of a living sacrifice to Him.
Each Father must redeem their first-born son. Each first-born male of every household was to have certain responsibilities toward God and in looking to see that his people followed God and God’s ways.
This redemption of of the first-born was a shadow of God sending his perfect first-born and only begotten Son to redeem Israel and eventually the whole world from sin.
THEY ADDRESSED THE KEEPING OF SABBATH
The next item to come before Moses as God spoke to Him of how to keep the covenant was the keeping of Sabbath.
We read about this part of the discussion in Exodus 34:21; “Six days you shall labor, but on the seventh day you shall rest, even during the plowing season and harvest you shall rest.”
This conversation was referring to the godly concept of keeping Sabbath.
THE CONCEPT OF WORK AND SABBATH
It is interesting to note that right before this passage is another passage that states: “No one is to come before me empty-handed.”
One could apply this statement to the passage above it concerning the offering of the first-born; or one could apply it to the passage just below it that implies that men are to work for six days and keep a Sabbath rest on the seventh day.
I tend to think God meant for it to apply to both situations. He commanded that men were to bring first-fruit offerings in season before God; and He commanded that men were to work in order to produce the things that they offered back up to God.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CONCEPT OF SIX DAYS OF WORK
If you think about this; you can’t very easily bring any offering to God without first working to help provide the suitable offering. Whether it is from the labor of your hands or the proper raising of your first-born son; God expects us to do regular and diligent work that will bring prosperity to His Kingdom and abundance to our own homes.
Lots of times people consider the commandment to “rest” on the seventh day but totally ignore the commandment to work for all the other six days.
We are not to be lazy; but we are to be about our Father’s business for six days a week. No slacking! God doesn’t like for His people to be lazy and He expects for each person to carry their own weight.
PAUL’S TEACHINGS REGARDING WORK
I love the way The Message interprets 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16. Paul is instructing those in his charge about how to treat those who are lazy and do not work during the six days of the week that are commanded by God:
(Quoting from The Message passage of 2 Thessalonians 3:6-16)
“Our orders – backed up by the Master, Jesus – are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of diligence, hoping it would prove contagious.
Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately – no excuses, no arguments – and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.
If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.”
MUCH LABOR IS NEEDED IN GOD’S KINGDOM
In God’s Kingdom; each man is expected to do his part of the work. No one gets a free ride. Everyone is capable and gifted in some area, and God has a way of helping us to find those areas where our talents and labor are needed the most.
THE CONCEPT OF A DAY OF REST
Once you have worked for six days though; you are expected to stop working and rest.
When God created the first six days He said they were good. When God created the Sabbath Day (the 7th day of creation) He said it was VERY good.
The Sabbath was a set apart day that was different in every way. It was a day unlike all the others. God deliberately stopped everything and just rested. Genesis 2:3 says “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” I suppose this seventh day was God’s way of creating rest! God must enjoy rest as much as we do because the scriptures say He blessed the seventh day and made it holy. None of the other days are holy; only the seventh day – the Sabbath.
Noting that the seventh day is holy is an important concept. That would mean that from the very beginning of time as we know it; God blessed and sanctified every seventh day.
The fourth day, or the third day are not holy.
The fifth day or the first day are not sanctified.
God choose to sanctify and make the seventh day holy.
The second day was not the day God blessed; it was the seventh day and the seventh day alone.
This fact could not be made plainer.
BUT ISN’T THE FIRST DAY THE DAY OF WORSHIP?
Many men choose to worship on Sunday and some of them will give you reasons that truly SOUND logical; but God choose the 7th Day; which would be Saturday on our secular calendars.
You can worship on ALL days; and that is fine; but the day that God sanctified, set apart and commanded that we rest falls on Saturday on our modern day calendars. The Sabbath was God’s appointed time to rest with mankind.
CONFIRMING THE SEVENTH DAY IN MODERN TIMES
How do we know that the seventh day is really Saturday on our modern-day calendars?
It isn’t really that complicated.
God reinforced the Sabbaths over and over again. Each time that it was lost to the Hebrews because of exile or separation from their way of life; God came along and reset the clock.
In the days that we speak of in this lesson, the children of Israel had been in slavery for hundreds of years, and they had probably lost the whole concept of God’s seventh days.
When they got to the wilderness (after they left Egypt) God gave them their calendar back. He rained down manna from heaven for six days a week and there was enough to gather for two days on the sixth day.
No manna fell on the seventh day; because there was rest.
God had re-established the proper day that He desired to be kept among His people. There was no mistaking it. It was clear. The evidence of the seventh day was that no manna fell and everyone was instructed to rest and not to gather. Enough had been provided from the sixth day for the seventh day. God made sure that his people understood His calendar and history has records going all the way back to the beginning of the nation of Israel. The seventh day has been kept perpetually since that time.
WHAT ABOUT THE TIME OF CAPTIVITY IN BABYLON?
Well, what about the time that the people were taken captive long after the days in the wilderness and driven into Babylon?
Maybe a better question would be why DID the people get captured by the Babylonians? Basically it boiled down to the fact that they had not kept the Sabbaths that God had decreed for the land. Every seventh year was to be a Sabbath rest for the land. When this did not happen God removed the people who disobeyed Him and gave the land the correct amount of years of rest that made up for the years it had not been given its Sabbaths. The people who did not allow the Sabbaths for the land went into captivity.
They didn’t have to go. They could have kept the Sabbaths. They had a choice. They choose wrong.
How are you choosing to live today?
Sabbaths matter to God.
To answer the original question above; the people taken captive in Babylon knew the correct calendar dates because two of their leaders; Daniel and Ezekiel had faithfully kept the count and observed them even in captivity.
Another who came slightly later; Queen Esther also kept Sabbath. The seventh day Sabbath count wasn’t lost during the Babylonian captivity, and when the return to Jerusalem happened; Nehemiah and Ezra brought Sabbath keeping back to those who returned home; as they too had kept Sabbath during their time in Babylonian captivity.
THE SEVENTH DAY SABBATH IS A SIGN BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE
God declared in this covenant with Israel that the Sabbath would be a sign of His covenant with them. Exodus 31:17 says “It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth; but on the Seventh Day He ceased from labor and was refreshed.”
Keeping God’s 7th Day Sabbath is a sign that you belong to Him. It identifies you as one of God’s people.
For even more thoughts on Sabbath; you might be interested in this earlier lesson: https://theinseasonlifestyle.com/keeping-sabbath/
Keeping the Sabbath would have aided those in captivity to maintain their identity as God’s people in the middle of a pagan culture.
Perhaps it will help us today.
Anyone living in the middle of a pagan culture?
When Christ returns to rule and reign over this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s; will He find you keeping God’s true Sabbath?