Sabbath Rest (June 2007)

I love discovering things in the Bible. The Holy Spirit has really been making scripture come alive to me lately. It’s funny how you can read something a million times, but the million-and-first time you read it, you see something that you hadn’t before. Anyway, God reveals so many things to me lately that I don’t know where to begin. This is just one lesson that he has taught me.

I was reading Isaiah 58 in the Message (love the Message) and came across this passage:

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the LORD . . .” (Isaiah 58:13-14, NIV)

“If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God! . . .” (Isaiah 58:13-14, the Message)

Do you see what I mean? The Message says the same thing, but makes the meaning so much clearer. Anyway, about the meaning. The Israelites looked at this passage and saw, “Don’t do anything on the Sabbath.” However, I think it is pretty clear that what the passage says is, “Don’t do anything for personal gain on the Sabbath.” Making dinner, cleaning house, visiting friends and family, helping your neighbor move, these weren’t allowed on the Sabbath, but why? Matthew 12:10-12 says, “and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.'” (NIV). Do good on the Sabbath. Set aside one day for the Lord that doesn’t involve work, but don’t forgo doing good. The Sabbath rest isn’t about doing nothing, it’s about doing what is good and right and pleasing to God.

Anyway, I know it isn’t a huge revelation, I just always find it interesting when I discover passages that I know the Israelites misunderstood. Jesus came here and clarified so much of what was said in the Old Testament. He didn’t change it, there wasn’t anything that He said that contradicted the Old Testament. He simply revealed the true meaning. I find that fascinating. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, anybody who thinks that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are different, or that God somehow changed between them, isn’t reading the same Bible that I’m reading.

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