March 29, 2015 What to do on the Sabbath

What to do on Sunday

I grew up in South Carolina in the 1950s when businesses closed at noon on Wednesday for evening prayer services and none were open on Sunday, except an occasional filling station and restaurant. Being the son of a church pastor, what I could do on Sunday afternoons, between church services, was limited while in public: no swimming, no movies, etc. What a contrast Sunday is, today! The important consideration, however, is what does God permit, since He made the rule? Exodus 20.8-11.

I. ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’

  1. Jesus’ words in Mark 2.23-27 give the opinion of God (John 14.6-11).

  2. He gave an illustration that Pharisees would know about. While running from King Saul, David had asked for and was given the bread restricted for the benefit of the priests. The previous Sabbath’s bread of the Presence had been replaced with fresh bread. (Leviticus 24.5-9) David knew the rule, but Priest Abiathar, apparently, heard God say to give it to David for his flight. (1 Samuel 21.1-6)

  3. This example aligned with Jesus’ disciples plucking grain and eating it as they walked, for they were hungry.

  4. Jesus reminded the leaders of the synagogue, on one occasion, that they would rescue one of their sheep that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath. So, how could they criticize Him for healing a man with a withered hand on that day? Jesus declared human beings as more important than animals, in Matthew 12.9-14. (The Pharisees’ response sounds like something from the animal-rights crowd.)

  5. On another occasion, Jesus healed a woman from satan’s oppression on the Sabbath and used the comparison of her worth being greater than that of their ox or donkey which they had already watered that day. See Luke 13.10-17. Notice the contrast of responses from others present, in verse 17.

  6. Jesus confirmed man’s need to care for and, if need be, to rescue his animals and his need to fix food for his and his animals’ nourishment. Man was not made by God for the day, the Sabbath!

II. ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’

  1. It is apparent that governments, civil and ecclesiastical and corporate and institutional, want to control human actions. Legislated control is necessary where persons rebel against the bounds of ‘truth’ that God has established. This is what Jesus said in John 8.31-32. There is ‘freedom’ in living in a right relationship with God; freedom from the yoke of deception to evil (Matthew 11.28-30; Colossians 2.8-10). Follow God’s rule when governments disdain; Luke 12.4-7.

  2. YOU are important to God! The Psalmist David expressed this ‘a-ha’ beautifully in Psalm 8.3-6. Perhaps he was reflecting on Genesis 1.26-31. Note there that God called His creation of man ‘very good’, better than His declaration of ‘good’ for the things created for man and placed under his control.

  3. David recognized that man was created ‘a little lower than God’ (possessing His image and some of His authority, but not in total control. We need Jesus to save us; Matthew 1.20-21) and for the pleasure of God, as the Westminster Confession states.

  4. How does one find pleasure in and give pleasure to God? You’ve probably heard the expression, ‘the pleasure of your company is requested’. We state or imply this when we schedule visits with loved ones, family or friend. We find pleasure in being with them.

  5. Just so with God. Notice from the examples above of Jesus valuing man greater than animals and than the manipulative protocols of controllers. You ARE special to your Heavenly Father! He has a special name for only you (Revelation 2.17). You are so special that He set aside one whole day for the ‘pleasure of your company’, after your hard work week (Mark 6.30-31) and from the stresses of future plans (Proverbs 16.9, 19.21). Did God need to rest on the seventh day? But, He knew we would. For example, you might learn more about His plan for you during this day of rest; Jeremiah 29:11-13 and John 3:27.

  6. Exodus 20.8-11 was God’s loving pronouncement to the people He chose. Note, especially, His last statement: ‘Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.’ ‘Holy’ means set apart; special and not like any other day. It is a ‘blessed’ day because He wants to enjoy it with you, as you probably noted in the earlier examples with Jesus. His disciples were walking with Him through the grain fields. He was in His ‘Father’s house’ (Matthew 21.13) and doing the things that pleased Him (John 5.19-20) with the people He loved…on the Sabbath.

III. Questions for your individual answer (before and after reading the commentary):

  1. Why do Christians worship Jesus on Sunday and not God on the Sabbath? First, Jesus is God, as referenced above from John 14.6-11, and Lord of all (Matthew 18.18; Philippians 2.9). Second, Acts 2.46 indicates that early Jesus-followers worshipped every day, enjoying God’s presence and the presence of fellow believers. Revelation 1.10 indicates that John worshipped on Sunday, the day of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Mark 16.9; Luke 24.1). Acts 20.7 indicates that Paul gathered with believers on the first day ‘to break bread’ (perhaps celebrating the Lord’s broken body) in their fellowship. Paul instructed the Corinthian believers to bring their gifts for their needy fellow believers in Jerusalem ‘on the first day of the every week’ (1 Corinthians 16.2).

  2. What about those who must work on Sunday? This is analogous to the situation in Numbers 9.6-14, where Jews who were traveling or unclean could celebrate the Passover one month later than required by the Mosaic Law. In Romans 14.5-6, Paul deduced the importance of worship on a ‘holy’ day, rather than the importance of only on Sunday. (How would one make any day ‘holy’, since there are, probably, no church services? What should one do? Repeated rituals with meaning or without? God reflected on what He had created, perhaps, as an example for us to follow.) In Colossians 2.16-17, he emphasized the point. In Galatians 4.9-10, he diminished the importance of the day and emphasized the worship experience.

  3. Exodus 31.12-17 presents God’s perspective on keeping the Sabbath. How does this apply today?

  4. How are you to come into His presence? Psalm 100.1-5, 46.10.

  5. How is a Sabbath rest for man like not planting fields every seven years (Exodus 23.10-12) and like freeing Jewish slaves (Exodus 21.1-6) and like the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25.8-17). Why ‘seven’ years?

  6. Why did God write ‘Remember’ in ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy’? Remember pointed people back to God’s example in Genesis 2.2-3 and Exodus 16.23. (Even the maggots followed God’s instruction on the Sabbath!)

  7. How will Solomon’s conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12.13-14 affect the way you view Sunday in the future? How does Isaiah 66:2b emphasize this to you? Should misusing Sunday cause you to ‘tremble’? Why? How does 1 Corinthians 11:27-32 relate to this? What is the message?

  8. So, what is on your ‘never on Sunday’ list, to repeat a contemporary, secular song title fro the past? Remember Romans 14:4 as you make your list. God is. You might also read Numbers 15.32-36. Was God too harsh? Is ‘rest’ the same for everyone? Matthew Henry’s Commentary: note to Exodus 20.3: ‘Christ allowed works of necessity, charity, and piety’ as Sabbath made for man.

  9. What have you learned from this study?

Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2015.

March 22, 2015 What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

God’s third commandment for righteous living speaks of the language we are to use in worshipping Him as God, alone: ‘Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.’ (Exodus 20.7) A pithy statement with profound meaning centering on the understanding of ‘vain’. The New Oxford American Dictionary gives two definitions that are useful to this study: using someone’s name in a way that shows a lack of respect and using someone’s name without believing there will be a positive result.

Vain speech of God’s Name shows a lack of respect.

‘OMG’: use for emphasis of emotion. Some use God’s name too casually.

Expletive deleted: adjective to a noun added for impact. Some use it with contempt.

By contrast, the Hebrews substituted ‘Adonai’ for YHWH to avoid such misuses.

Vain speech of God’s Name is without understanding and belief in it’s power!

The story of the healing of the paralytic at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple illustrates the proper use of the name ‘Jesus’. In Acts 3.1-10, Peter and John gave the paralytic something that silver and gold could not buy. Peter explained the man’s healing to the crowd in Acts 3.16 as resulting from his ‘faith in the name of Jesus’ and restated this as the protocol for healing to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4.12 (note that the context is not their curiosity in ‘eternal life’ but in healing).

Why the name ‘Jesus’? Jesus explained the name in John 17.12 as God’s name that He gave to His Son. It has to be God’s name, for Paul declared in Philippians 2.9-11 that there is no greater name, not even in Heaven!

In the name Jesus is the power of Jehovah-rapha to heal, as Luke stated in Acts 10.38 and John in 1 John 3.8b. And to deliver; see Mark 9.25.

Jesus, Himself, equated His name with God in John 15.24 [fulfilling Deuteronomy 18.18 (John 12:49-50) and Exodus 34.10) (John 5:19-20)]and to Philip in John 14.9-11.

Again, Jesus said to ‘ask in My name that your joy may be full!’ (John 16.24) Only the absolute power of God’s name could do whatever we ask, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 3.20-21, acknowledging this would be so ‘throughout all generations, forever and forever’! We agree with Paul’s ‘Amen’!

Paul, also, emphasized the importance of the paralytic’s (Romans 3.16 and Acts 14.8-10) and our faith in the name ‘Jesus’ in Romans 14.23b: ‘whatever does not proceed from faith is sin’. Sin is rebellion(Hebrews 11.6); in this case, calling on God but not believing He can or will do what we ask Him to do for us, individually. (Similarly, Hebrews 3.16-4.2) This is His grace, defined as God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring His promise to my reality! We cannot earn it and do not deserve; God’s word is His gift!

So, what’s in the Name Jesus?

All the fulness of God: Colossians 1.19, 2.9! This is why Paul’s practice wherever he went was as he described in 1 Corinthians 2.4-5. Read 2 Corinthians 4.7 and 12.9, too.

That is, according to Isaiah 11.1-2: ‘the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord’. Isaiah 64.4; Jeremiah 33.3

In like manner, Jesus said the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him in fulfillment of Isaiah 61.1-3. Luke 4.16-21 records this event in Nazareth.

For, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have see His [Its, the Word’s] glory’; John 1.14. This ‘Word’ that was with God and WAS God; John 1.1!

‘Jesus’ is the ‘word of our testimony’ (Revelation 12.11), that we use to bring the God of our faith to save us with His promise of grace, as Paul encouraged in Philippians 2.12-13. Let me remind you of the definition of grace: grace is God’s word of promise and His willingness to use His mighty power to bring His promise to my reality!

His ‘with fear and trembling’ is like Isaiah 66.2 and means no doubting (1 Timothy 2.8), which is, by definition, using God’s name without expecting any positive result; i.e., in vain!

King David knew the reliability of calling on God when he was in trouble. He wrote about this in Psalm 50.15: ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.’ He had heard God say this many times while he was shepherding the sheep and, as he said, when overcoming the Philistine giant Goliath. See 1 Samuel 17.34-37, 45-49.

God has spoken. Have you heard? What will you do in His name ‘Jesus’?

God spoke the 10 Commandments before He inscribed them on stone, twice; Deuteronomy 4.36.

Jesus spoke to Saul on the road to Damascus; Acts 22.9.

Jesus said His followers hear His voice; John 10.3, 16.

Paul instructed believers in Rome to listen for Jesus’ voice; Romans 8.14.

Meditate upon Proverbs 18.10. The name is Jesus!

‘Jesus’ is the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit INTO which you were baptized when you accepted Jesus atoning death and bodily resurrection. The ‘in’ in Matthew 28.19 can be translated ‘into’. This is what Jesus prayed in John 17.20-23.

‘Jesus’ is within you and me! James 4.3-4tells us that this is a great benefit!

So, use the Name that is above every other name to effect your temporal salvation each day! Every knee bows to ‘Jesus’!

Romans 1.17: “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Praise God!!! Copyright by Maurice L. Painter, 2015.