Lenten Day 6: THE SABBATH TO BE KEPT HOLY… Su. A.p Emmanuel Umezeoke
‘wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’
SABBATH is a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by the Jews from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians, Sunday. In the Jewish tongue it means rest.
HOLY means to be consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. The idea of making a day consecrated to God began in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant Laws.
God had demanded that all Jews should observe a day of rest. That day was dedicated to God and to show so, God also demanded that no servile duty should be engaged in that day.
This study will attempt to define the Sabbath day in the light of the New Covenant, taking into consideration present day realities.
Then the true meaning and God’s original intent will be revealed so that the practice can become more productive.
CONCEPT OF THE SABBATH REST
In the Bible, when God was establishing this law of the Sabbath for the children of Israel, He used the example of Himself resting after working for the whole week and choosing to rest on the seventh day.
The Lord demanded that they also rest on such a day. No work was permitted to be done on such a day.
The matter of the Sabbath cannot be properly understood if we don’t seek the New Testament reference.
The apostles of Jesus Christ, after HIS ascension, began to meet and break bread and fellowship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
These were Jews who knew the Law of the Sabbath rest. What must have informed this decision? It is the fact that they received the correct understanding of the intent of the Sabbath.
While Israel travelled through the wilderness, God had promised them rest once they entered the Promised Land.
The book of Hebrews 4 talks about the implication of the promise of rest.
It also says that only those who believed entered into the rest. It goes ahead to say that when Israel entered the Promised Land, the promise of rest was not accomplished.
Heb.4:8-10 talked about David later talking about another ‘rest’. He who enters rest is one who has ceased from his labours.
So, the ‘rest’ actually referred to the rest that Christ provides when a man comes into Him. Such a person ceases to try to come into righteousness by his works but enters by grace through faith in the finished work of Calvary.
It is this truth that the apostles understood and chose to meet on the first day knowing that the Sabbath was no longer a day but an experience. The Sabbath is the experience of salvation.
The truth also remains that on the Jewish Sabbath which is Saturday, Christ, the Sun of Righteousness was in the grave.
His resurrection took place on the first day of the week and that marked the victory of our salvation. This is another implication why the apostles chose to meet on the first day of the week.
CONCEPT OF KEEPING THE SABBATH HOLY
Now in the view of the true concept of Sabbath, we now need to re-evaluate what we mean by keeping the Sabbath holy.
The truth remains that the experience of salvation is our Sabbath. To keep it holy means to maintain the salvation which Christ purchased for us dedicated to God.
It implies that we will not trivialize the sacrifice of Christ and will not allow the experience to be devalued by sin.
It is a conscious decision to preserve the gift of salvation by living a holy life and growing in grace.
This can only be done by always meeting with the brethren to be strengthened by the corporate anointing. As a son of God continues to live by faith he will continue to draw closer to the Lord.
This is one of the advantages of fellowshipping with brethren. This is why the book of Proverbs 27:17 declares that as iron sharpens iron, so a brother sharpens another brothers countenance.
We must never neglect the assemblies of the brethren regardless of whatever day they choose to meet.
The meeting day is not as important as the content of the meeting. The sole purpose of Sabbath is rest from fruitless labours of seeming righteousness to acquire salvation.
The Sabbath that is celebrated and produced at the meeting of the brethren is salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.