20 March 2013 by James Hoh CM –
“Not many of you thought about keeping the Sabbath as part of your spiritual discipline. What comes to your mind when we talk about Sabbath keeping? No work, go to church, rest? Is this all about keeping the Sabbath?” asked Rev Calvin Lee,
Rev Calvin Lee is the newly elected Senior Pastor of Kajang Assembly of God. The church was started way back in the 1960’s as one of the earliest Assemblies of God church. Today it is one of the thriving churches in Kajang.
Generally most its members have been many years Christians. Yet members found the basics of Christianity like what Rev Calvin’s preached on spiritual discipline intriguing and fresh. Somehow it is always good to revisit some of the ‘Why we do what we have been doing’.
“We don’t take things for granted. Every Christian should keep the Sabbath in order to be strong spiritually. This commandment is the hardest to keep because it is the easiest not to keep! We may have many reasons not to keep the Sabbath. The failure to keep the Sabbath actually indicates the priorities and the importance of God in our lives.” Rev Calvin said.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. (Genesis 2:1-3, NKJV)
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. (Exodus 20: 8-11, NKJV)
The ‘therefore’ in the passage indicates that God rested on the seventh day, that’s why He blessed it and made it holy.
Subsequently that became the 4th Commandment that God gave us. So therefore the seventh day became the Sabbath day.
Shabbat (in Hebrews) – To rest from labour.*
Sabbaton (in Greek) – A day of rest.**
Sabbath originated from the Old Testament, so it is a Jewish practice then. Jews usually start the Sabbath on Friday evening through Saturday. Therefore, the Jews’ Sabbath is on Saturday. The purposes of Sabbath are as follows:
The Sabbath Reminds us That God is Our Creator
“Are we not keeping the Sabbath if we have it on Sunday? Of course we are. Keeping holy meaning to set aside a day in honour of God, not for ourselves.
3 “You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3, NKJV)
“It is not supposed to be an aimless rest, which means resting without a purpose for God eg. just sleep or rest at home and watch TV. The Sabbath is sacred and of significant. It is sacred because of God’s declaration.” Rev Calvin said.
He further explained that the first three commandments are about the position of God and us. But the forth commandment instructs us to set aside time to worship God.
“The failure to set aside a day for Sabbath is therefore profane the Sabbath. However, there should not be condemnation today as there maybe exceptional occasions that we may not be able to observe Sabbath because of urgent and important things we need to attend to.” he said.
Therefore setting aside Sabbath should be our practice week after week, as it would benefits us.
The Sabbath Testifies of His Daily Providence
Exodus 16 tells us that God provided the manna for His people. They gathered what they needed and they should not keep their manna overnight because they would be spoiled. But on the fifth day God told them to gather more to keep for the next day. As they obeyed, they found the overnight manna still remained fresh. So they did not need to collect manna on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath is a Rest Day
After God had finished His handiwork, He stepped back and was amazed with what he had created.
To us this means that we rest to be free from the clutches of daily lives and marveled at what God has done through us because all blessing comes from God’s grace.
Nevertheless, it is our decision whether we want to be independent of God and do our own things. But a Christian who is dependent on God will find true rest. Being independent of God we will be bound by many issues of life and not find rest. In our restlessness we cannot worship God.
It doesn’t matter which day our Sabbath falls on but it matters to keep one day. Jesus showed us that He is the Lord of Sabbath and that it was for our sake that Sabbath was set aside Mark 2:23-28 and Mark 3:1-6.
The Sabbath reminds us of His Deliverance
“As Christians, we need to remember it was God who delivered His people from the hands of the Egyptians.
15 And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day. (Exodus 5:15, NKJV)
Today we too, need to remember that Christ redeemed us. Christ had delivered us from Satan’s hands of oppression, sin and death. It is therefore, a day we set aside to remember all that our great God had done for us. Sabbath indeed, is a day of celebration!” Rev Calvin said.
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