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Sabbath Rest

Zach Middleton
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Exodus 20:8-11

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8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lordyour God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lordmade heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. - Exodus 20:8-11 TP - Pause to remember that God’s creation is greater than all of our cultivation. HP - Stop, Rest, Remember and Worship I - Recap JP’s Lesson N - The desire to achieve a sense of significance or accomplishment. S - Why did God remind his people to remember the Sabbath? T - Exodus 20:8-11 P - 1 - The Importance of remembering 2 - The significance of the Sabbath Day 3 - What it means to keep it Holy 1- For point number one we remember that God and not our own human ingenuity or ability created and sustains us. We also remember that he is pleased when His selected entourage takes a moment out of our schedules to show gratitude through vacationing with him through a time of Sabbath rest. 2 - For point number two the Sabbath Day within the law was carved out to honor and intentionally remember the Lord’s work. The Sabbath day was not to be worshipped within itself but to point to the Lord of the Sabbath. As a result New Testament believers focus more on the object of affection and rhythm of rest when we remember the Sabbath than the chronological date itself. 3 - For point number three, when we intentionally put Sabbath rest in our schedule we are saying “here God is my offering of output”. I want to reflect your holiness by living a reality that says God comes first even with my time. When we Sabbath we keep that time holy as a time offering to the God that gives us each moment. GSC - Matthew 11:28 close Good Afternoon New City Fellowship. My name is Zach Middleton and I bring you greetings from Greater Faith Baptist Church where I serve as the youth minister right here in Orangeburg. This week I will be filling in for Pastor JP and I am grateful for the opportunity to simply enter into what God has already been doing at New City Fellowship. • JP Flesh out this passage on the Sabbath. ◦ Actually taking a break. ◦ Friday I am not going to belabor this introduction. I want us to get to the purpose of our time today which is to dive into Exodus 20:8-11. (You can open your Bibles or your digital device to this text) This is a message on the Sabbath Day. I just want to say that I appreciate your internet /audio visual ministry that allowed me to prepare for this message through hearing JP’s message. Last week JP talked about the third commandment of not taking the name of the Lord in Vain. He used illustrations that ranged from quoting Shakespere to singing Destiny's Child “Say My Name” to show that we must take the name of the Lord seriously. We most not just honor the name but the character of God and the very integrity that even his name carries. But before we get into the sermon let’s pray. (prayer) Let us read Exodus 20:8-11 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lordyour God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lordmade heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. - Exodus 20:8-11 (Intro) ...Today we will look at 1 - The importance of remembering the Sabbath 2 - The significance of the Sabbath Day 3 - What it means to keep it Holy 1 - The importance of remembering the Sabbath 2 - The significance of the Sabbath Day 3 - What it means to keep it Holy In order to remember the Sabbath we have to do a callback to the original Sabbath. That original Sabbath is seen in the creation of the world. I only want to start by reading a few verses of the creation narrative. Let’s read Genesis 1:1-8 but please pay attention to how each day is constructed 1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And throughout the rest of the creation story in Chapter 1 we see the same recurring trend a day is formed and crafted and then it ends. The passage will say... …”And there was evening and there was morning” that goes from the third day all the way to the sixth day. However, let’s see if there is any difference in the way the creation of the Sabbath or day seven is described in chapter 2:1-3 2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of god is them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. - Genesis 2:1-3 One observation that is made by theologian Vaughn Roberts in his book Tracing the Storyline of the Bible is that the Sabbath even in its construction is not quite like the other days. He writes…. “...The writer of Genesis ends his description of each of the other days with the words, ‘And there was evening and there was morning – the first [etc.] day.’ But no such end to the seventh day is recorded; it continues. In a sense, God has rested ever since. He lives in a continuing Sabbath, the seventh day. That does not mean that he is not working. He continues to sustain his creation; without him everything would fall apart. But he has rested from his work of creating. When a job has been done perfectly, there is nothing more to do. And he wants human beings to live with him in that seventh day, sharing in his ‘rest’ and enjoying his perfect creation. That is what we see happening in the verses that follow….” - Tracing the Storyline in the Bible by Vaughn Roberts What is Roberts saying God is not resting because he is tired. He is not sleepy so he has to rest like us. Rather he like an artist that has finished an extraordinary painting or sculpture has nothing more to do. So when we “remember the Sabbath”...this remembrance is a time to pause and reflect on God’s extraordinary work of what he has created. When I read this I can’t help but think about recent NBA Draft (and while there are other examples in Sports and Entertainment). It’s one of the clearest pictures in our contemporary culture. Often an athlete’s fortune will change with the swipe of a pen. They will go from sometimes living in poverty to become some of the richest men on the planet. They will achieve this status through their work. They worked when they were smaller in AAU leagues, they will work in High School Leagues and they will work in college. Through that work they will achieve get the privilege of having their name called and changing the financial trajectory of their lives. Often times these men will have estates and riches so immense they will attract close family members and friends to share in their riches. The people that they care for will be given many of the privileges and access of the athlete that actually did the work simply as a result of having a relationship. In our culture we call those people the Entourage. They rest because their benefactor did the work. When we as God’s people remember the Sabbath we are remembering the work of our Benefactor. We are remembering that God not us is the point of our progression. We are not the star player or the Celebrity even in our own narrative. Rather God is the benefactor and he gives us the privilege of resting as a result of His work. Now Zach clean that up because it sounds like you are advocating that a person be lazy. No that is not what I'm saying. I’m saying that we should be grateful and one of the ways that God has clearly shown that he wants humans to show him gratitude is through taking out time to take a Sabbath or to rest while having a right view of him. 1- For point number one we remember that God and not our own human ingenuity or ability created and sustains us. We also remember that he is pleased when His selected entourage takes a moment out of our schedules to show gratitude through vacationing with him through a time of Sabbath rest. The Second point that I want to engage is the topic of the Sabbath Day itself. So often we have disputes about what day of the week is the Sabbath Day. Is it Saturday? Is it Sunday? Zach I have this friend and they attend a mega church and the only day they can go to church is Friday because they have six services and this is the only one that coincides with their schedule. Is this person in sin? We will engage this discussion but first its important to understand that this command was given to God’s people at a specific time in human history. This command during the time that God is giving his chosen people the law. I love how your leadership (and other sound Christian teachers) have given symbols to remind us of the purpose of the law. John Paul said that your congregation has been interacting with the Law. If you are new the Law are written commandments that God in his grace saw fit to give his people. Now God knew that his people in their sinful flesh would not be able to perfectly meet the requirements of the law. However the law or the written prescription which include the ten commandments could be defined in three different symbols (in which you guys have been talking about) those are a Shield, a mirror and a compass. A shield protects, a mirror clearly displays the good, the bad and ugly of the person viewing (and also clearly displays our inability to live up to Jesus Christ’s perfect standard) and the compass is a tool used to guide a person to God’s best intentions for their life. I’ll interact with John Paul’s sermon on how the Sabbath is applied to the law. (I don’t think he has shared is here yet. But I’m entering into what God is doing through JP...) To quote John Paul, the Law as applied to... “1. A shield - protects us from burnout and workaholism; 2. A mirror - reflects the glory of God and our sinful inability to obey; and it shows us Jesus Christ who kept the law for us, and gave his own life to pay the death penalty for our sin. 3. A compass - directs us how we might live out our love for God in response to his grace and love for us. The Lord's Day is a day for rest AND it is a day for Gladness.” If we go back to our chief text verse 9 says 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, So make no mistake Sabbath rest does not mean a workless society. In God’s economy work is always a good thing. Even before the fall Adam was given a job. Some Christian thinkers believe that we also likewise be given fruitful work in Heaven and in eternity. So we aren’t resting because we despise work. But read verse 10. 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. The Sabbath Day is a day for the Lord. When I think about a day for someone my mind can’t help but think about how we do birthdays. I remember someone once told me that they make their birthday an entire week. They take off work and have the biggest celebration. There is nothing wrong with celebrating our birth. But how much more could we celebrate the God that made our birth and everything that accompanies our life possible. But let’s extend the metaphor. Have you ever been to an extravagant party (birthday or marriage) when you did not know the guest of honor. Money is spent, gifts are given time comes to a stand still and you could care less about the focal point of the party. When we forget about God during our period of rest we have done the same thing. Sabbath rest is when we are carving out time to relax, reflect and rest all while remembering that God is the universe is the guest of honor. The Sabbath Day is a day for the Lord. During the period of the law that time was designated in the form of an actual day. That day would have been on what we associate with Saturday not Sunday. However, if you can bear with me I want to explain why the commandment for the Sabbath Day runs deeper than a date on a physical calendar and why Christians in general observe Sundays at the Lord’s day. But for now let’s remember that God desires that his people remember that the Sabbath Day was a day for the Lord. It was a clear time stamped shield to prevent the overworking of God’s people, a mirror that shows us how we fall short of our eternal yearning to dwell with God and a compass to point to the future Sabbath rest that is found through Jesus Christ. To use a food analogy the Sabbath was given a clear sample dish that would point to an eternal “meal” reality experienced in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As thins congregation has discussed there were many shadows and types in Old Testament that pointed us to New Testament realites. The Old Testament Sabbath Day was to point us to the Lord of the Sabbath, which is God Himself. Now how do we know that? Well let’s look at a gospel account that was written (to anyone but) with an intentionality towards the Jewish people by turning our attention to Matthew 12:1-8 12 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus is saying don’t you get it I’m the whole point. Don’t miss it Jesus says that he is greater than the temple. Now a Jewish person would have been scratching their head. They would have known the temple was the place that God dwelled. He uses the reference of David to get the people to understand that God’s presence and God’s work seen through Him were the point of God’s commands. The sabbath was not an end in and of itself. Instead of the many arguments on what approximate time the Sabbath begins we need to focus on Jesus Christ who is the Son of Man and the Lord of the Sabbath. Your probably thinking well Zach, you still haven’t explained why most in the Christian church gather to worship God on Sunday and not Saturday. In doing so we look to the resurrection itself. In all four gospel accounts; Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1 and John 20:1 the resurrection of Jesus Christ is recorded to have occurred on the first day of the week. Jesus Christ (as he typically does) changed everything. While the Bible does not specifically say why it does note in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthins 16:2 that the New Testament church meets on the first day of the week. Church tradition more commonly refers to this day as the “Day of the Lord” and not the Sabbath Day. Because as you would imagine the focus of days and jewish ceremonies have changed in the new covenant. The focus is now Jesus Christ. As Dr. Tony Evans is given credit for illustrating, the shadows and types of the Old Testament were previews to the coming attraction of Jesus Christ. For point number two the Sabbath Day within the law was carved out to honor and intentionally remember the Lord’s work. The Sabbath day was not to be worshipped within itself but to point to the Lord of the Sabbath. As a result New Testament believers focus more on the object of affection Jesus Christ and rhythm of rest when we remember the Sabbath than the chronological date itself. For the third and final point we examine what it means to keep it holy. We don’t have time to examine each way the Isrealites were commanded to keep it holy. If you are interested in a more exhaustive study I would encourage you to web search the Gospel Coalition’s free article entitled “Is the Sabbath Still Required for Christians” edited by Justin Taylor in it he permissively reprints the findings of Tom Schriener’s book “40 Questions about Christians and Biblical Law”. Question #37 focuses on the Sabbath. But the point is that there were many activities that God’s people were commanded to do in order to be set apart or holy. One way to explain how the Sabbath set apart the Israelites is to see how they compared to other nations. Please turn with me to Deuteronomy 5:12-15 12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor 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, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave[a] in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. William MacDonald’s Believer's Bible Commentary makes some great observations about this passage. He observes that in the initial passage (Exodus) God’s appeal to remember the Sabbath was a means of remembering God’s role in creation. However, in this passage the focus of engaging the Sabbath through the law was to remember the Jews were slaves in Egypt. He argues and I agree that these two reasons were not contradictory, rather they were complementary. Tim Keller in his great work on how a Christian engages the topic vocational work called Every Good Endeavor. Interacts with this text by saying…. “Deuteronomy 5 goes on to tie the observance of Sabbath to God’s redemption... God portrays the Sabbath day as a reenactment of emancipation from slavery. It reminds us how he delivered his people from a condition in which they were not human beings, but simply units of capacity in Pharaoh’s brick production system. Anyone who cannot obey God’s command to observe the Sabbath is a slave, even a self-imposed one. Your own heart, or our materialistic culture, or an exploitative organization, or all of the above, will be abusing you if you don’t have the ability to be disciplined in your practice of Sabbath. Sabbath is therefore a declaration of our freedom. It means you are not a slave—not to your culture’s expectations, your family’s hopes, your medical school’s demands, not even to your own insecurities. It is important that you learn to speak this truth to yourself with a note of triumph—otherwise you will feel guilty for taking time off, or you will be unable to truly unplug.” Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller When we are true to carving out Sabbath rest periods we are setting ourselves apart from a human system that make materialism and human achievement god. Being intentional about taking Sabbath rest periods is when we say that we are not slaves. We are not slaves to the human achievement ladder. We are not slaves to the dollar. We are not slaves to our calendar. We are not slaves to the common cultural expectation that we put our job above our faith our families our anything with Kingdom significance. We intentionally take Sabbath rest periods because we are not slaves. • Practical Application - My experience working at Chick - Fil - A and other similar restaurants. Has a massive impact in their stores and in the lives of their employees. Employers leave a long term benefit on the lives of their employees through counter cultural action. • Personal Application - I need to include others in my ministry plans. (Prayer - While Doing - Transition Plan) To take a break. I must understand that I am not God. There is an old preacher joke that says sometimes the most theological thing you can do is take a nap. What’s the truism in that? Taking a nap from our rest is when trust that God’s carrying out of our cultivation or work is more significant than the anxiety we take on when refuse to rest in God’s provision. Well preacher you said that you were going to talk about holiness. How does this gospel freedom declaration push us towards holiness? Well one clarification that I think I need to clearly define holiness in Christ. One misconception is that holiness is mere moralism. In much of Christian culture we think that holiness is summed up in the adage “I don’t smoke, cuss or chew or associate with those that do”. We view holiness through the lens of moral keep away. The more that I don’t get any of my neighbors sin germs on me the more “holy” I am. Let me just pause to say that people have different personal spiritual convictions (even as it pertains to Sabbath keeping) and if those convictions help you and your family honor God then by all means pursue them to the glory of God. However, let us never forget that the centerpiece of our holiness is Jesus Christ. In Exodus and Deuteronomy these law based provisions for holiness predated Christ. Their law keeping displayed their desire to obey God and made them a model to the nations. However, their law keeping could never give them the benefit of eternally impressing God. They had to continually offer up sacrifices to the God of the universe. While he gave them the privilege of being seen as holy for a moment there was still a longing for one that would give them an eternal form of holiness. In Habbakuk 1:3a the Prophet Habbakuk summed up God’s holiness by saying “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong…” God’s holiness is not just a list of moral rules. God’s holiness is not just the opposite of sin. Rather it's an understanding that God is transcendent or outside of the realm of sin. If sin is defined as placing creation above the creator then God’s holiness would have to be seen as a governing of Himself where he is greater than what he created. When we distort the intention of any created thing family, sex, the human experince or even work and place it above God we are sining. Going back to your symbol of the shield. The Sabbath in some ways is designed to make sure our work, our progress or our sense of achievement is not an idol. I also think that the Sabbath as it applies to God’s holiness in our life is literally a work offering that we are offering to God. As Americans we get the concept of offering especially as it i applied to money. When we talk offering as it pertains to money. We are saying that we give as unto God. We are not saying that God needs our money. He created , delegated and sustains all things. Rather its an intentional time when we extend our money in a way that says God you control my finances, my finances do not control me. When we Sabbath is when we say God you control my time, effort and my work those things do not control me. For point number three, when we intentionally put Sabbath rest in our schedule we are saying here God is my offering of my output. I want to reflect your holiness by loving a reality that says God comes first even with my time. When we Sabbath we keep that time holy as a time offering to the God that gives us each moment. As the praise and worship team transitions the service I want us to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now yes Jesus is the creator of all things old and new even our ability to physically rest or sleep. But the rest he is talking about is not just a physical rest. This is spiritual rest that also has physical implications. See I would argue that all of us have some form of spiritual anxiety that we are dealing with. The religious person feels the anxiety of never quite measuring up. The irreligious person feels the anxiety of not quite being fully satisfied. Our anxiety is cured at the cross where Jesus Christ completes the rest that we cannot. When he cried it is finished he established that our work for God’s approval has been finished for all time. To be a Christian is not to be perfect rather its to rest in the eternal Sabbath offered by Jesus Christ. Let us pray.
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