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Friday: Further Thought ~ Jesus, The Giver of Rest — 6 Comments

  1. I have told you this experience before but in the context of this lesson, it is worth telling it again. My PhD supervisor and I had to take a car trip to Sydney - a journey of about 1 1/2 hours. As is usual we had a conversation about software engineering, politics, Rugby Union vs Rugby League, and theology. Quite out of the blue, he asked me why I went to church on Saturday.

    My supervisor was a typical modern secular-minded person who never went to church and who thought that all religion was an anachronism. Should I give him a Bible study about the seventh-day Sabbath? Should I tell him about the Papacy and the change of day? What could I tell him that was meaningful?

    I told him that I was a follower of Jesus and that we liked to spend a day with fellow believers. We went to church on that day, but more importantly, we spent time together with one another. I also told him that it was quality family time. It was a Friday when we took this particular trip and I reminded him that we often had our research meetings on a Friday and I described how great it was to be able to go home at the end of our heavy discussions and "switch off" for 24 hours and how often some of my best ideas came after that period of rest.

    In the end, he said to me, "I wish I had a day like that!"

    Now I know that I probably don't get a high rating for the correctness of my theology, or my presentation of Seventh-day Adventist ideology in that discussion. But, this was not a point-scoring debate that I was involved in. It was a conversation with a friend and I wanted him to know that what he saw as some sort of religious legalism was something that was much more important to me than rule-keeping.

    I have heard many presentations about Sabbath-keeping to both Adventist and non-Adventist audiences, and under my breath I keep saying to myself, "...and don't forget to tell them how enjoyable it is!"

    Hebrews 4 describes those who do not enter the rest that God has offered. I wonder if the description is about those who keep the Sabbath because there are 38 Bible verses about it and Jesus kept the Sabbath and Adam and Eve kept the Sabbath and we have to prove that the Catholics were wrong and so on. When, in fact, Jesus wants to spend an enjoyable day with us.

    One final thought: I don't eat ice-cream all that often. But when I do, I like to choose the moment and the company. Ice-cream eaten on the run, or sitting in a shopping centre eatery is not the way to enjoy ice-cream. I like to sit with family and friends, choose my flavours carefully, and savour each spoonful while enjoying a good conversation. A shared ice-cream experience is a double enjoyment. Sabbath rest likewise is a double blessing when shared with others. Are we selfishly observing Sabbath and missing part of its real blessing?

  2. Today's lesson refers to the change within Christianity from the second century onward regarding the replacement of Sabbath with Sunday. That this happened is actually a reflection of a much wider change that took place during the same period - seeing 'God's way' as being essentially rules that He made up and needs to enforce as a 'Sovereign'. After all, this was the way the church and state operated during this period so why wouldn't they assume God also operated this way. Thus God was remade in man's image. This change in 'wordview' within Christianity had wide-ranging influence that has essentially gone undetected - just the way Satan likes it.

    If Sabbath is nothing more than a day that has been decreed to be kept, then it can be changed. But if Sabbath, like every other aspect of God's way/s is instead a reflection of the principles upon which abundant life can only operate, then it cannot be changed - because it is the very 'fabric' of reality. This is why God's law is referred to as being "immutable" - meaning it cannot be changed. And each of the 10 commandments are not rules, but amplified reflections of the reality principles that are absolutely necessary for abundant life. Violate (ie, put yourself out of harmony with) any of these and you don't break a rule/law, you put yourself out of harmony with, or cut your self off from, life.

    And if you can see the wider change that happened within Christianity beginning during the second century that is reflected in the changed view of Sabbath, you may also be able to see the many, and profoundly significant, other changes in Christian belief and teaching that have also changed since apostolic times.

    Growing up, I hated Sabbath because I experienced it as restriction. Now it is the hilight of my week and something I long for all week. I wonder what has changed?

    • I have found it a truly amazing revelation that God's Laws - the LORD's Principles of Life - are actually an expression of His will and a transcript of His Character and because He is the Creator they are embedded into our DNA, so we can only be truly happy and fulfilled when we invite Him into our hearts to transform our character to be like His Character. With this knowledge I then realize that Sabbath is the time the LORD specially has set aside to deepen our relationship with Him. I believe it is not only part of His instructions but even more special it is an invitation to spend dedicated, intimate, special time with the Most Powerful being in the Universe. Wow what a privilege, an appointment I wouldn't want to miss.

      Our first parents were not left without a warning of the danger that threatened them. Heavenly messengers opened to them the history of Satan's fall and his plots for their destruction, unfolding more fully the nature of the divine government, which the prince of evil was trying to overthrow. It was by disobedience to the just commands of God that Satan and his host had fallen. How important, then, that Adam and Eve should honor that law by which alone it was possible for order and equity to be maintained.
      The law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom. The harmony of creation depends upon the perfect conformity of all beings, of everything, animate and inanimate, to the law of the Creator. God has ordained laws for the government, not only of living beings, but of all the operations of nature. Everything is under fixed laws, which cannot be disregarded. But while everything in nature is governed by natural laws, man alone, of all that inhabits the earth, is amenable to moral law. To man, the crowning work of creation, God has given power to understand His requirements, to comprehend the justice and beneficence of His law, and its sacred claims upon him; and of man unswerving obedience is required.
      Like the angels, the dwellers in Eden had been placed upon probation; their happy estate could be retained only on condition of fidelity to the Creator's law. They could obey and live, or disobey and perish. God had made them the recipients of rich blessings; but should they disregard His will, He who spared not the angels that sinned, could not spare them; transgression would forfeit His gifts and bring upon them misery and ruin.

      Patriarchs and Prophets pg 52.1

      EGW Writings:

  3. Sabbath - He made it holy - I am playing God when I worship on another day
    Altar of time – Abraham built an altar wherever he pitched his tent. God had built an altar of time for his people.
    Resting in Christ – business is being under the yoke of satan. We need an excuse to rest. God mandated that rest.
    Sabbath is not tainted by sin – Sabbath was given before sin – It was not given because men worked hard and needed rest – it remains even after restoration
    Sabbath is a day – Unhurried time to spend with God. Do not neglect God’s provision

  4. Thank you Maurice for reminding me that God gave us the Sabbath out of love for us. God’s love is the theme of the Bible - and often we get distracted by our own “do’s and don’ts”. We love our children and want only what is best for them, and our God only wants the same and even more for us.

  5. Looking back over last weeks lessons, I find it interesting that God's ‘Rest’ turns into a theological debate among the students of the Bible; one sees it a bit more legalistic, the other a bit more lenient. For me, it simply tells me that the Creator wants His children to know that the door of His spiritual kingdom is wide open to all who want to enter and enjoy the Rest He gives those who believe Him!

    Regrettably, I noticed the lessons around the Sabbath focusing more on functioning as an apologetic for continuing to observe the seventh day Sabbath, and not on the crucially import spiritual aspect of the believer being at ‘rest’ when having decided to believe – Psalm 62:1NKJV; Jer.6:16NKJV; Psalm 91:1-2NKJV, and yes, Matt.11:28NKJV.

    I would agree that it was “the loss of the understanding of the Sabbath observance as a symbol of salvation by grace that led to its demise in the Christian church;” but how is it understood now? Is Sabbath observance again interpreted by focusing on the legalistic aspects, or is it truly understood as a symbol of God’s restorative Grace?

    Proper Sabbath observance during the Old Testament times was used to judge the followers of the Jewish religion. The Sanhedrin convened on the Day of Preparation, Friday before the Sabbath, to hurriedly conduct their trial and proceed to murder the Lord of the Sabbath; all done so they could go on with 'enjoying' their 'Sabbath'. What is wrong with this picture?
    Therefore, I still hold that our Creator’s Rest given to mankind can only be understood as an exclusively spiritual Rest; the kind of Rest the believer finds and begins to enjoy at the moment he/she believes and follows the Will of the Lord of the Sabbath.


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