The “Feasts” Series #2
"FEAST OF SABBATH"
TEXTS: Lev. 23:3; Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15; Isa. 58:13-14; Heb. 4:1-11
INTRO: Out of the seven feasts celebrated by Israel, only one was to be celebrated weekly! The other six were to be celebrated annually. The only feast celebrated weekly was the feast of Sabbath! Because of this it had a greater affect on the daily life of the people and thus a great potential to change the lives of God's people.
ILLUS: If worship does not change us, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change. Worship begins in holy expectancy; it ends in holy obedience. -- Richard J. Foster (1942- ) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 12105.
Out of the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses, the one about the Sabbath was by far the longest ... yet the Sabbath principle is probably the most ignored by Christians today, or at the least, taken the lightest by many Christians.
Even Jesus and the disciples took seriously the Sabbath, being found in the nearest synagogue everywhere they traveled when the Sabbath arrived. In Acts the church met faithfully at the weekly synagogues until they were kicked out, then they met faithfully on the "Lord's day" ... while also maintaining small group fellowships on a daily basis.
NEVER through the Bible does this need to come together weekly before God decrease ... in fact this need increases as time goes on, especially as we grow closer to the coming of our Lord! HEB. 10:25 "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching!"
PROP.SENT: The Word of God teaches us the great importance of a weekly meeting together for worship and Word, significant damage occurs to those who habitually or frequently ignore the Sabbath call of God; emotional, physical, and spiritual decay will set in where unfaithfulness occurs. For those who keep it, significant growth and health will occur, emotional and spiritual!
I. GIFT OF THE SABBATH Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15
A. Divine Pronouncement Gen. 2:2-3
1. Created by God ... not the church or a man! Gen. 2:2
a. It isn't because the Pastor wants you in church; (although this is likely true as well!) it is because God wants you in church. (This is why most pastors want you there also!)
b. It wasn't just a rest from just "physical work" that God was talking about, although it can include this ... Jesus said in JOHN 5:17, "My Father is working still!"
c. It was for communion, God with man, and man with God, and with each other!
d. Work distracts our attention from God ... so a time was created to set all distractions aside to focus on God!
e. And this was the idea, a rest from self to focus on God; thus not just physical rest.
f. It is interesting that although the Sabbath (7th day) was the final day of creation; it was man’s first full day of existence. Man began life with a Sabbath day … then entered into work! Adam and Eve’s first full day of existence was the Sabbath day!
g. It is also noteworthy that the formula in Genesis 1 is missing for the 7th day: “and the evening and the morning were the __ day.” No doubt the Sabbath relationship with God was meant to endure all through the week, never ending!
2. God not only made it a time of rest, He also blessed it! Gen. 2:3
a. In other words He made it a "joyous" time ... part of the concept of "blessed."
b. Not only a time to recharge, but also to rejoice!
c. Those who have practiced faithfulness to worship corporately understand this two-fold blessing of the Sabbath.
ILLUS: In the old days of ocean sailing, a small boy was traveling on shipboard with his father. About once a day the boy saw the captain stand on deck with sextant in hand, and, as they used to say, "shoot the stars." The boy said to his father, "Daddy, what is the captain doing?" His father replied, "The captain is taking our bearings, seeing where we are, finding out if we are going in the right direction."
As a matter of fact, it is something of this kind that each of us is doing as we are in worship on Sunday morning. We are checking in with God; we are seeing where we are; we are finding out about our directions in relation to His will concerning our journey of life.
We can so easily become confused or lose our way out there in the weekday world of days, and we need this checkpoint. Here we touch base with the Lord of our life, and from Him we take our bearings for going on. We can deviate from the course and by winds and currents be carried far astray, unless from time to time we check in with God to set our course again. – Source Unknown
3. Since God created the Sabbath it will undoubtedly contain these two elements, had man created it, it might have been a different story!
4. It is for these reasons unbelievers can't understand the fascination and joy real Christians have for church and going regularly! (Tragically, some Christians can't understand this yet either!)
5. Some churches have polluted the Sabbath with man-made regulations and so have lost the strength and joy that God gives to it when followed His way!
6. The word in Gen. 2:2-3 translated "rested" is from the Hebrew, "SABAT" -- the root of "Sabbath," thus the Sabbath is closely related to "rest."
B. Dynamic Principles Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-15
1. Why a Sabbath rest?
a. Man is a triune being like God:
b. All 3 must be renewed on some regular basis for health to be maintained.
c. The Sabbath rest ministers to all three areas!
2. What happens when neglected?
a. Body: (work)
(1. Diminished strength
(2. Metabolism breakdown
(4. Distortion of perspective or reality
3. Is it any wonder that this 4th commandment is the longest of the ten, it affects every area of our being!
ILLUS: We pay God honor and reverence, not for his sake (because he is of himself full of glory to which no creature can add anything), but for our own sake. -- Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) -- Charles R. Swindoll (1934- ) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 12126.
4. God in His grace and love created for us a weekly opportunity to renew all three key areas of our life!
a. And yet many Christians today still take so lightly the weekly worship service!
b. Those who usually are the strongest spiritually are also usually the most faithful to worship services!
c. There is a dynamic relationship between the two, not because I say so, but because God says so!
II. GOD AND THE SABBATH Isa. 58:13-14
A. Discipline Practiced Isa. 58:13
1. Most people discipline themselves:
a. To work ... jobs.
b. To learn ... school.
c. Even to play! We schedule time for fun and vacations, even what we do on vacation.
d. But what about church ... the spirit's need of communion with God and with God's people weekly!
e. God created our bio-rhythms on a seven day week ... the Sabbath is part of that!
g. Are we better than they or our needs less ... NO! (HEB. 10:25)
2. It's the "LORD'S DAY," not our day! Isa. 58:13
a. That's an old term that wouldn't be bad to return to!
b. The early church called it this ... "the Lord's day."
3. "If you call the Sabbath a delight" ... Isa. 58:13
a. Boy could we learn something in this!
b. Our children and others will pick up our attitude and our attendance record! This is why it's important to call it a "delight!"
ILLUS: We need to scrutinize the rush of our activities, because even venerable exertions may be keeping us from becoming and doing what God wants. A packed schedule may be detrimental not only to ourselves, but to those we seek to help. A few years ago our neighbors were drawn to us, but when we talked to them about the Lord, their response was, "We couldn't be Christians; we couldn't live at your pace." They had been attracted to Christ, but the busyness of our lives had scared them from a commitment. -- Jean Fleming, "How Busy Is Too Busy?" in Decision (March 1988). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 7.
4. We are also called to honor it ... Isa. 58:13 ... how? By not doing just what we want to do on it … AND by not speaking “idle words” ... or empty words.
a. In other words ... don't tell your kids how important church is and then don't go regularly yourself ... empty words!
b. Don't claim how wonderful it is to be there and then complaining about every part of it ... empty words again!
c. Don't get up and testify about how God and you are so tight if you are not faithful to the house of God ... it is empty!
d. No wonder the two words, "discipline and disciple" sound and look so much alike ... they are alike!
B. Delighted People Isa. 58:14
1. This is the result of discipline, "then you will find your joy in the Lord."
a. Some try to find the joy first ... then they claim they will become disciplined! I say "baloney!"
b. Joy is the result of discipline!
ILLUS: Merely learning a truth about God is education, not worship. -- Tim Keller, Leadership, Vol. 15, no. 2.
2. Notice the last line of verse 14, "the mouth of the Lord has spoken." ... not the pastor's!
a. You can disagree with me and sometimes be right.
b. You can't however disagree with God and hope to be right!
III. GOSPEL AND THE SABBATH Heb. 4:1-11
A. Delivered People Heb. 4:1-5
1. How do I begin to enjoy this "rest?"
a. With salvation! ... This is the starting point!
b. Unless you do more than hear the message you will miss out on this Sabbath rest.
c. You must combine what you've just heard with faith to begin to enter God's rest.
2. Church will never be enjoyed like it can be without a relationship to the "Lord of the Sabbath."
3. Why not let church be all it can be!
a. Remember others view the concepts about God and worship from what they view in what we do!
ILLUS: Quizzing my preschool class about the story of Creation, I asked them what God did on the seventh day. A dark-eyed three-year-old raised her hand and said, "I think he mowed the yard." -- Janet Weaver, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Christian Reader, "Kids of the Kingdom."
b. Especially our family members!
B. Declared Privilege Heb. 4:6-11
1. It is not automatic even if you come faithfully ... faith must be expressed with faithfulness to experience the joys of the Sabbath rest.
ILLUS: If we haven't learned to be worshipers, it doesn't really matter how well we do anything else. -- Erwin Lutzer, pastor and author. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
2. What a privilege church really is!
a. A rest for our bodies.
b. A rest for our minds.
c. A rest for our spirits.
3. What a seeming contradiction Heb. 4:11 appears to be in language, "Let us therefore, MAKE EVERY EFFORT to enter that rest!" (Bold for emphasis mine)
a. We make efforts to go someplace we really want to go to!
b. We make efforts to buy what we want to buy.
c. We must make an effort to enter into that Sabbath rest also!
d. What would happen in one generation IF every Christian made every effort to obey Christ's commands ... the world would probably experience a great revival and every church would be packed every week!
e. Don't fall by following the examples of disobedience" Heb. 4:11b -- follow the examples of the obedient hearts!
CONCLUSION: God calls us to honor the Sabbath day by making it the "LORD'S DAY," not "my day!" Faithfulness to worship together is a great privilege ignored by too many ... faithfulness yields great fruit in the lives of those faithful to God's command to keep the Sabbath. Regular attendance will create real fruity Christians ... why not be one!