Sunday, March 4, 2012

Shalom Shabbath: Enjoy the peace of the atonement!

Exodus 20:8Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

In continuing our lessons on the commandments, the fourth commandment seems simple: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy". But what does that mean, especially to the Christian? 

Do we have to keep the Sabbath? If so, what how do we do it? Can we work on the Sabbath day? There is much we need to learn about this commandment. After all, we cannot obey a commandment until we understand it. 

The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word Shabbath and means: 

"1) Sabbath
a) sabbath
b) day of atonement
c) sabbath year
d) week
e) produce (in sabbath year)

When we celebrate the Sabbath, we celebrate our atonement!

There has been much debate over these eight words. Some say they no longer apply, but Jesus said, 
"17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
 18For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
 19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19) 

Obviously, the earth is still here and the kingdom of heaven has not yet been set up here on earth. We must, therefore, conclude that the law is still in force, to some degree. Of course some things, such as the sin sacrifices and the ceremonial aspects to the law are FULFILLED through Jesus' death on Calvary. Is the Sabbath one of them? 

The Lord's moral laws are still in force. "Looking at the ten commandments", it is obvious that these are part of God's moral laws. So, yes, we have to "keep the Sabbath day". But, how do we do this?

Some folks insist that Saturday (the Sabbath day- the seventh day) is the day we should meet and worship the Lord. They say that it was the Catholic church that changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday- in order to secretly worship "the sun God- Mithra". Is there any evidence in the scriptures to suggest the early church got together on the first day of the week (Sunday) to worship?

A few facts: 1) Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. (Mark 16:) 2) Jesus appeared to the disciples on the first day of the week. (John 20:19) 3) Acts 20:7 suggests that the apostles did meet on the first day of the week. 4) 1 Corinthians 16:2 suggests that the early church met and took up offerings on the first day of the week. 5)Romans 14:5-6 says that, in essence, whatever day you wish to set apart for the Lord- do so, but don't judge your brother because they chose a different day. 

So, it would seem, that even back then, there was controversy concerning the Sabbath. Yet, there is evidence that the church did, in fact, meet on the first day of the week. It even became known as "the Lord's day" because Jesus rose on the first day of the week. Jesus appeared to John on "the Lord's day" while he was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos and showed him the book of Revelations.

For these reasons, I chose to take Paul's position in Romans 14. Whatever day you wish to make holy- do so! Just don't judge your brother who does differently than you do. 

If your group chooses to gather together on Saturday, great! There are some Apostolics who do worship on Saturday, rather than Sunday. This is the original Sabbath day. You cannot be wrong in gathering together that day to worship. Most Apostolics gather on Sunday, the Lord's day. Great! The early church seems to have done this as well. I have known some that gathered on BOTH Saturday and Sunday. Awesome! We need to "forsake not the gathering together" of the saints. I say go for it!  

So, we've settled the day issue. Is this all there is to keeping the commandment? Or is there more? 

What does it mean to "remember" the Sabbath day? Are we to simply say, in passing, "Ah, it's the Sabbath. I remember that now", as if we're remembering a recipe or some other lost bit of knowledge? The word "remember here comes from the Hebrew word, zakar, and means: 

1) to remember, recall, call to mind
a) (Qal) to remember, recall
b) (Niphal) to be brought to remembrance, be remembered, be thought of, be brought to mind
c) (Hiphil)
1) to cause to remember, remind
2) to cause to be remembered, keep in remembrance
3) to mention
4) to record
5) to make a memorial, make remembrance

Notice definition 5, "to make a memorial". 

Now this opens up a whole other can of worms to fish with! When we make a memorial, in our society, we set up a special place. We put time, money, and effort into that place. And we go there to visit that place to remember. 

Jesus died for US ALL! He then defeated death, hell, and the grave, for US ALL! We gather together in this place we've set aside and put our time, money, and effort into in order to REMEMBER and CELEBRATE what our Lord has done or us! The creator of all, loved us so much that he died and rose again for us. If we can get excited about anything, we can get excited about this!

This is far better than the new car, the new job, the new house, the new clothes, etc. This tells me that God loves me so much he died for me! As unworthy as I feel, he died to make me worthy! He arose to lift me up into heavenly places and experience his love and glory and to see his awesome power at work! 

Do we get to that place, simply by showing up? Is it enough to gather together in this place to take part in all what God wants for us? He said he has plans for our good for our lives. How do we take part in those plans?

In Acts 10, Cornelius is told "thy prayers and thy alms are come up as a memorial" unto God. 

Let's give to the work of the Lord, both in and out of church. God always honors giving. If we see our brother in need, and we have it to give, let's reach out and help him! 

Let's pray! Let's keep getting together to seek God. Let's keep setting aside specific times, both in private and as a body, to pray and seek the Lord- not just for what he can do, but also (and more importantly), for who he is! 

We want power with God. He wants relationship. If we have the relationship with him, the power will begin to manifest itself. Apostolic power and ministry is not based on our doctrine (though doctrine is important). Rather, it is based on developing a strong relationship with Jesus! 

A memorial is also a place to get away and rest. 

Sometimes, we just need a break from our lives. That time of prayer and study. That time spent talking things over with God! He says "Come unto me, all ye who are weary, and I will give you rest." 

Isaiah put it this way: "11For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
 12To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear." (Isaiah 28:11-12)

The Lord of all that is has made the whole world and offer we should not refuse. We spend most of our lives fighting with the world, with our flesh, with family and friends (sometimes). We sometimes, in spite of Paul's instructions, DO grow weary in well doing. How do we not when we sometimes feel as if we are fighting the hordes of hell every day?

Every boxing match has a break between rounds. Jesus, in the days of his flesh, got away every day to recharge his batteries and get instructions. The reason the Lord gave us the baptism of the Holy Ghost goes WAY beyond it being part of becoming a child of God. Yes, he gives us the power to become what he wants us to be. But, he also gives us a place of rest. An unhindered access to connect with him.

Sometimes a child just needs to feel loved. Sometimes a child just needs to feel the strong arms of their daddy around them, holding them, keeping them safe. Sometimes when we fall down or get knocked down, we just need to hear daddy whisper in our ear, "Hush child. Daddy's here. It's gonna be alright. I'll see you through. I'll help you do this."

Having the Holy Ghost gives us access to: 

1) the love of God being shed abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5)

2) the ability to speak truth and a witness to our conscience when we're right (Romans 9:1)

3) righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:17)

4) a hope that is born in our hearts and brought on by God giving us hope to believe (Romans 15:13) in spite of the circumstances we face! 

5) Our offerings, be they money, time, giving to others, helping others in our labor, giving a friendly and understanding ear, bringing sinners in to the house of God, etc, are useless in our flesh, but are made acceptable by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Romans 15:16)

6) the understanding of the word of God, as well as help to teach it's precepts (1 Corinthians 2:13)

7) the understanding that we are NOT our own. That we are bought with a price and have no right to live however we wish to live. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

8)1 Corinthians 12:3 says we can't even call Jesus LORD (Supreme controller) except by the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives!

9)We can commune with God only through his spirit (the Holy Ghost) being in us (2 Corinthians 13:14)

10) The ability to walk uprightly as an example to others, and the power to minister to others comes only from the Holy Ghost living within us and working through us. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

11) joy in the struggle (1 Thessalonians 1:6)

12) The ability to stay right with God and complete his will for our lives comes only through the Holy Ghost (2 Timothy 1:14) 

13) Our salvation comes through the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5)

14) When God chooses to, miracles and signs and wonders can be done through the power of The Holy Ghost. (Hebrews 2:4)

15) Guidance comes through the Holy Ghost (Hebrews 3:7)

16) The Holy Ghost is how God writes his laws on our hearts! (Hebrews 10: 14-16)

17) The Holy Ghost allows us to prophecy. (2 Peter 1:21)

18) We can build up our most holy faith by PRAYING in the Holy Ghost! (Jude 1:20)

What is the Christian Sabbath? It is the Holy Ghost! It is God dwelling in us. 

How do we access that needed rest? How do we grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Through praying in the Holy Ghost! 

For the christian EVERY day can be a Sabbath of rest! For, in essence, the Holy Ghost IS our relationship with God almighty! The Holy Ghost IS the power and love of God in our lives. 

What am I saying? If you need rest, healing, help, etc, the answer is found in a relationship with our Lord and Savior. When we Obeyed acts 2:38, we were born again. But, we need to actively work at our relationship with him to stay right. And we do this through the power he places in us out our new birth- the Holy Ghost. 

The Holy Ghost is NOT a person. It is the power, the connection with God that enables us to be used by him. This power is accessed through prayer. It is the phone line through which God almighty speaks with us and teaches us. It IS the Christian Sabbath! 

Shalom, Shabbath, dear friend! May the peace of the Sabbath (the joy of the Holy Ghost) be in you!