Jesus Christ, the Kingdom of God & the Sabbath Matthew 12:1-14

SEPT. 5, 2010

INTRODUCTION – When Anne, Josh and I traveled to Switzerland a couple of years ago to pick up Caroline we were surprised and inconvenienced by the so called blue laws that they still have in place there.
Blue laws are laws that restrict what a person can do or what a business can sell on the Sabbath day, which usually is Sunday, though In Israel – it would be Saturdays. And I think in Switzerland it starts Saturday evening.

My ideal is to mow my lawn on Saturday, but a couple of times at least I have had to mow it on Sunday because I was too busy with other stuff on Saturday. Each time I’ve caught myself being a little anxious about what someone might say about me mowing it on Sunday since Sunday is thought to be the Sabbath – even by non church going folk.

We had a member of our church leave us in my earlier years here because we refused to accept his contention that the Sabbath is really historically and biblically supposed to be observed on Saturday. Of course the 7th Day Adventists chose their name to reflect their conviction that the Sabbath is Saturday and is extremely important to observe.

Seems the Sabbath has oft been surrounded by controversy. Was certainly the case in Jesus’s day. You may be surprised to learn what He teaches us about it. Matt. 12:1-14

12 truths or principles from the O.T.
I. Old Testament Truths or Principles about the Sabbath
A. The Sabbath was a one day cease from the work they commonly did the other 6. Ex. 16:26 “Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”; cf. Jer. 17:21,22,24 = God rebuking His people for not keeping the Sabbath

B. The Sabbath was a gift from the Lord – an expression of His love and care. Ex. 16:29 Moses explains, “See, the Lord has given you the Sabbath; ….”

C. Keeping the Sabbath was one of the 10 commandments. Ex. 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

D. The primary reason in the 10 command. passage for keeping the Sabbath was God’s own example of resting on the 7th day. Ex. 20:11 “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the 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.” Now we all know God doesn’t get tired. But He chose to take a break from His creation work; and He expects His chosen people to follow suit with this pattern of working six days, and resting on the 7th.

E. In O.T. days the penalty was very severe for not keeping the Sabbath. Ex. 31:14,15 “…Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death…”; Num. 15:32-36; Neh. 13:18; Jer. 17:27 Why? Leavening principle. In Ex. 31:14,15 both “holy to you” and “holy to the Lord”. God was forming a people in whose midst He could dwell and manifest His glory; they had to be a people who looked to Him and trusted Him for their needs; and not a people who worked every possible moment out of fear and greed and covetousness, etc.

F. The Sabbath rest was to be a complete break from their work. Ex. 31:15 “….but on the seventh day there is a Sabbath of complete rest,…”, 35:2 (repeated) “Sabbath of complete rest..”

G. The Sabbath was meant to be a covenantal sign between God and His people. Ex. 31:16, 17 “So the sons of Israel shall observe the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.”

H. It was also meant to be a way of humbling themselves by expressing their dependence upon God, and not relying on their own strength, efforts, human wisdom. Lev. 16:31 “It is to be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; ….”

I. It also was to be a time of remembrance of God’s deliverance from the Egyptian slavery. Deut. 5:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand ….therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.”

J. One of the significant parts of Nehemiah’s reform was restoring observance of the Sabbath Day. Neh. 10:31 “As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the Sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or a holy day;…”; 13:15-22

K. There was a great blessing on the people of Israel for observing the Sabbath. Isa. 56:2 “How blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who takes hold of it; Who keeps from profaning the Sabbath,…”

L. Central to the purpose of the Sabbath was a day where self will and self pleasure was resisted. Isa. 58:13 “If because of the Sabbath you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word,…” The Sabbath was never meant to be a day where you can just do whatever you want.

13 truths or principles or observations from the N.T.

II. New Testament Truths or Principles about the Sabbath (starting in Mt. 12)
A. Jesus allowed His disciples to pick grain to eat on the Sabbath. Matt. 12:1 “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat.” Mark 2:23; Luke 6:1

B. The Pharisees saw this as a violation of God’s law. Matt. 12:2, 10 “But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.”,

C. Jesus countered that a careful look at the precedent in the O.T. and the Law reveals otherwise. Matt. 12:3-5 “Or have you not read what David did…. Or have you not read in the Law…” (cf. I Sam. 21:6; Numb. 28:9,10, 18-19)

D. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath. He calls the shots. Ours is to obey Him moment by moment. Matt. 12:8 “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5

E. When the Pharisees challenged His intention to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus countered their logic, and contended that their own practice contradicted their views. Matt. 12:11, 12 “…What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out?”; Luke 13:15

F. Jesus stated that it is lawful to do good (meet human need) on the Sabbath. Matt. 12:12 “…So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”; Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9

G. Jesus stated that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It was a gift, not a chain around their neck. Mark 2:27 “Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”

H. The Jewish leaders went to ridiculous extremes in their pursuit of the keeping of the Sabbath, which ultimately resulted in their resolve to murder the Messiah. John 5:10 “So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.”; 16,18

I. It seems Jesus often healed people on the Sabbath Day. Matt. 12: 9f “…Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!”; John 9:14

J. There is no positive teaching re: keeping the Sabbath in the book of Acts or any of the epistles except one verse in the book of Hebrews. Heb. 4:9 “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.”

K. There is one command to not let anyone hold a Sabbath law over our heads. Col. 2:16 “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” (cf. Gal. 4:9-11) Unlike the other 9 of the ten commandments Christ never validates it as binding for today.

L. Paul expects us to come to our own convictions for ourselves and not push them on others. Rom. 14:4-6 “…One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”

M. The Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God is not about a specific day as much as it is about an ongoing lifestyle of faith and obedience – standing on the promises of God, and responding to God’s gracious invitations. Heb. 4:1-11 (Cf. Matt. 11:28-30)

Conclusions:
1. We could meet on any day of the week for corporate worship if we wanted to. No day is more spiritual than another. The Sabbath is not a certain day of the week in this dispensation or age. I know there are some wonderful 7th day Adventists out there who truly love the Lord, but they are wrong on maintaining that everyone must observe Saturdays as the Sabbath day.

2. The worst thing we can do is try to get others to see it the way we see it. To force our conviction on others. And to judge their every move or perfection or lack of in their observance of the Sabbath. Jesus was deeply grieved and angered by judging over this issue.

3. Many believers have found through the centuries that in general, setting apart a day of each week to stop one’s normal work and seek renewal with God, family and one’s spiritual family is a good and helpful discipline. The biblical pattern is six days of work; and one day where you choose not to work.
For us – Fridays are that day. On Fridays I try not to work on my sermon; have meetings; etc. Instead I try to enjoy the Lord and my family, the outdoors, do some reading, enjoy my quiet time without having to send out a prayer focus, etc. But Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, and while Friday nights I usually am with my family, I felt this last Friday evening He wanted me here participating with the Call live feed.
For most of you – Sundays are probably that day. But if you are a real estate agent and a client wants to meet with you on a Sunday, you have to seek the Lord for whether that can happen or not. No one should judge you for what you decide. It is between you and the Lord, though if you are married you obviously should consult with your spouse.

4. There is something about our nature that prefers black and white laws instead of an ongoing relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. And there is something in our nature that is quick to judge others for whether we believe they meeting up to our expectations of how they should obey the law. While God has been pursuing and inviting His people from day one to come to Him (see Psalm 95:6-11; Matt. 11:28-30) and thus to enter into His rest/freedom from striving; we continue to choose striving and stress from trying to live by the law and getting others to follow us, than by pursuing Him in relationship and thereby entering into His rest of all this fleshly striving.

5. There is something sick about religion without relationship with Jesus that exalts animals over people in terms of importance and value. Matt. 12:11,12 “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!”; cf. Luke 13:14-16

6. The purpose of choosing to observe a Sabbath day of rest is to help us enter into Jesus’s rest as a lifestyle. The Sabbath is not about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was given as a means of grace to help God’s people learn to trust Him, rely on Him, rest in Him, and not strive in our own flesh and efforts. It is not a law to put yourself or anyone else under. It is a spiritual discipline that can bear fruit if we practice it in relationship with Christ, and do it unto Him.

So how can this passage help us to achieve breakthrough and advance?
1. Well if we now understand what the Bible really teaches about the Sabbath we have one less thing to judge people for; and thus one less thing to grieve and anger our Lord Jesus over.

2. If we now understand what the Bible really teaches about the Sabbath, we have one less excuse to rationalize away our lack of compassion and obedience to heal the sick and to seek the meet the obvious needs before us. The Pharisees excused their unwillingness to help the man with the withered hand because it was “the Sabbath”. True disciples only respond to one thing – the voice of the Lord. If He says move, we move. If he says hide, we hide. If He says, answer the phone – we answer it. If He says, “Don’t answer the phone.” We don’t answer it. He is Lord over the Sabbath, over our vacations, our days off, and the more we can walk with Him as such; the more we are going to see Him showing up in these times. And the more we are going to be able to truly enter into His rest in these times as well.

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