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Christ and the Sabbath (part 2) June 15, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in Christ and Sabbath, Thoughts and Theology.

continued from my previous post….if you haven’t read it you should check it out before reading this one.  This answers question 1 posed in that post.  Each Sunday I will post the next question that is asked in that post.

What does this verse teach us about the 4th Commandment?

Leviticus 23:3 begins with an exhortation to work 6 days a week. God commanded His people to honor Him with their time by being diligent in their labors for 6 days and then setting apart the 7th day to be a Sabbath. God established this pattern at creation. He marked out 6 days creating and filling the heavens and earth, doing His marvelous work of speaking the world into existence, forming man out the dust of the ground, breathing life into him and creating woman out of man. Then, on the 7th day, He rested from His work.

Following this pattern from creation, man was to keep track of time and take time to do fruitful labor and to regularly in the framework of a week, stop and rest. Notice this verse calls this “a solemn rest.” In Hebrew the word “Sabbath” comes from a root meaning “cease” or “rest.” That word occurs twice here in this verse, grammatically tied together to intensify the noun. Literally it is a rest of rest—a Sabbath of Sabbath. The NKJV conveys the intent of the grammar here by calling it a “Sabbath or solemn rest.” In other words this was rest with a purpose and holy intention. The verse states, “You shall do no work on it.” It is a day to cease from work. But this was not a day to cease from work in order to be idle or lazy or carefree—this was a day to cease from work in order to give time to remembering the works and splendor of God and worshiping and delighting in Him.

Notice also that worship on this day is not described as in terms of just private worship or family worship—it is called a “holy convocation.” That is—a gathered assembly of the people of God for the purpose of worshipping Him. Worship on this day was to be corporate.

The idea that one could honor the Sabbath Day by going off somewhere by himself or just spending time with immediate family would have been utterly foreign in Old Testament Israel. This was a day to gather with the people of God and amplify His praise by sharing and hearing testimony with others of what God is doing in midst of His own. The Sabbath is a day for gathering and joining voices—a day for corporate worship.

This is the testimony of the psalms. Consider the words of David:

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together (Psalm 34:3).He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD (Psalm 40:3).

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O LORD, You Yourself know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth
From the great assembly (Psalm 40:9–10).

I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will praise You (Psalm 22:22).

Praise the LORD!
I will praise the LORD with my whole heart,
In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation (Psalm 111:1).


We could go on and on with verses illustrating this point (Psalm 35:17–18, 27–28; 107:31–32; 149:1–2; etc.). The Sabbath is a day to join in and share in the lives of one another. We need this!

Notice also in Leviticus 23:3, the Sabbath is to be a day focused on the LORD. It is a Sabbath of the LORD. It is not a day we can call our own, not a day we should treat like other days and fill with our own agendas. The day is His and He has given it to His people as a stewardship and commandment for our good and for His glory.

The verse concludes with the phrase “in all your dwellings.” This was to be observed wherever God’s people lived, in every household. This is what the verse says concerning the Sabbath.



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