Damariscotta Baptist Church
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

08/31/14 Sermon - Sabbath Rest

Sabbath “Rest”

Exodus 20:8-11 & Mark 2:23-3:6


Before I begin my message today, I have a little quiz. I thought we would start the school year off right and begin with a question. (hand out paper)


“Why did you come to church today?”


I am going to give everyone a couple of minutes to write down an answer. Be honest. Take some time to put your answer into words that make some sense.


I would like you to write this down for yourself. That means you shouldn’t need to discuss it with the person sitting next you. This is your answer. Don’t worry, I am not going to collect the papers at the end of the sermon and correct them. This is an exercise for you and God.

(Play music)

Before I begin with what Mark has to say about the Sabbath, I want us to remember what Jesus said in Mark 1:15 “The time has come, The Kingdom of God is near, Repent and believe the good news!”


The fact that heaven is near and God himself, in the flesh, has visited earth,is going to be a key factor in our understanding of what Jesus is trying to share with the Pharisees, his disciples and for us today.


Our Scripture today, starts with the Pharisee’s again, checking up on Jesus, now we see them popping up in the grain fields!


As I read this I had a picture of Jesus and his disciples walking through the corn field and in the foreground and background there are men with binoculars popping up to spy on them and they see them eating some of the grain. Then they squirm through the field until they are up to Jesus and pop in front of him and say, “Look, why are your disciples doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”


Let’s face it. Do the Pharisees really want to know the answer to that question, or is the real question,


“Come on Jesus, you are claiming to be God, and again / here we are to demonstrate / you don’t know the first thing about being God /

if you did / you would not allow your disciples to break Rule Number 4 of the Ten Commandments, which God himself, gave to us in the first place. You are one of the worst representations of God we have seen.


So what do you have to say for yourself?”


Jesus does have something to say for himself. He reminds the Pharisees of the time when David took the consecrated bread, that was set aside for the priests to eat, and fed his hungry men.


Then Jesus says something important for us to understand today, He says,


“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord / even of the Sabbath.”


Now I have spent the better part of this week, researching and reading commentaries and different translations of this statement to try and understand how this not only related to the Pharisees and disciples who were listening to it for the first time but especially how it would relate to us today.


And to be honest, I am still grabbling with the concept.  


You see, I realized I am somewhat like the Pharisees. When it comes to the Ten Commandments, I had this understanding that if “God said it”,

I believe it.
That settles it.”

Well this is where things aren’t always as “black and white” as we would like them to be.


Dan read to us the Fourth Commandment as it is written in Exodus. And there are many Biblical Scholars who have argued


Ø because keeping the Sabbath is a commandment,

Ø and we are expected to keep ALL of the commandments,

Ø we are sinning if we fail to keep this commandment.


These same scholars will present the argument that in Genesis, even God took a day of rest, so if He needed a day of rest, who are we to say we don’t?


Each of these statements has an aspect of truth in them.

And yet, they are missing some key points which make a difference. Remember what I asked you to keep in mind at the beginning of my sermon? The kingdom of God is near and we are living and we are living in a post-resurrection time. More importantly, ALL of God’s commands have one specific goal – RELATIONSHIP –


Our relationship with God, first –

And our relationship with others next.


I would like to unpack these statements and present new insights on what Jesus meant by His answer to the Pharisee’s question, and also what the Sabbath should mean for us Christians today.

First, let’s look at the point brought up by the Pharisee’s. They are arguing that the Fourth Commandment tells God’s people they are to keep the Sabbath holy by not working. You will notice the Fourth Commandment references God during his act of creation took the seventh day and rested, and by doing so, God blessed the seventh day and God’s rest, made it holy.


I believe there are a lot of assumptions that have derived from this commandment.


#1 = The Sabbath day is the 7th day, and is holy, but which day is the 7th day? Saturday or Sunday? Which one are we supposed to NOT work on, in order to obey the commandment?


#2 – Was God actually “tired” from his creating the other six days? So is that why He took a day off? and if He needed to rest does that mean we do too? Is that the reason we aren’t supposed to “work” on the Sabbath?


#3 - Have you noticed that this commandment doesn’t mention a word about “worship” on the Sabbath? Why have we made the “Day of Rest” our day of worship? And is worship on the 7th day a requirement?


What about the idea that the Sabbath is on Saturday and not Sunday? Or visa-versa.


It is true that the Jewish faith has been observing Saturday as the “Sabbath day” or the seventh day. The idea of worshipping on Sunday, is thought to have come about in light of Jesus’ resurrection. The Puritan’s set our example of this with their established “Puritan Sabbath” which was known as Sunday.


There is no text in the New Testament that has a determination of any specific day to have as a day of rest. In fact, Paul responds to the question this way, in Romans 14:4-5.


“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.”


Here’s the tricky part of this whole debate. Rather than viewing the Sabbath as a day in which we are called to “obey” by resting, I want you to consider this:


The means of entering God’s “Sabbath rest” is “belief”. It is a re-newing of your mind, something you believe and then do, not something you do (or don’t do) and then work on your belief.


The faithful are at rest, not through obeying the law, but rather through faith in Jesus.


It is our faith in Jesus, by trusting in the finished work of Jesus, namely, his resurrection, that gives us “rest”, or “Sabbath”.


Which brings me to point number two. God did not rest on the seventh day due to tiredness, because in Isaiah 40:28 it is written that God does not go weary, ever!


Humans are the ones who need to rest our physical bodies, and God knew that, thus what Jesus said is true, “the Sabbath was made for humans.” The Fourth Commandment states that God “blessed” the Sabbath. The Hebrew word for bless means: “to endue with power for success, prosperity, longevity, etc.” Does observing the Sabbath promote success, prosperity, longevity?

I think, YES.

It takes a holy God to make holy time and the time God made holy was the Sabbath. The overall meaning for holy is “different” the root word means “cut” indicating “cut out” “separate” or as we would say today, “a cut above”.


I believe God created the Sabbath because it enhances and protects our relationship with Him.


Jesus was trying to demonstrate this to the Pharisees when they questioned him on why he and his disciples chose to “work” on the Sabbath.


Dan also read in Mark 3:1-6 of another encounter with the Pharisees, of Jesus working on the Sabbath, this time back in the synagogue. Jesus asks the Pharisees,


“Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”


Note the emotion that Jesus has at this point, the Bible says,


“He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts,..” and then He heals the man’s crippled hand.

The Pharisees had placed the law, above their relationship with others and especially their relationship with God. It was more important to follow the letter of the law than to follow the spirit of the law. And in this case the spirit of the law is the item in question.


And this is where my third assumption comes into play.


The reason God created a “day of rest” is directed toward our spiritual health, not just our physical health. Sure, our bodies need a day of rest, some of us are finding as we get older our bodies need more than one day of rest, we could use two or three. That isn’t the main idea. The main idea for the Sabbath was to make sure we set aside time for our Spiritual life.


That is where corporate worship comes in.

Ø A “holy day”

Ø A weekly appointment

Ø A time set aside to focus on God

Ø A time to be refreshed

Ø A time to enhance and protect our     relationship with God


Since the beginning of time the world has been a grubbing, grasping, materially oriented world. As soon as we leave this sanctuary, we are most assuredly entering a world that avoids spiritual things.


By keeping the Sabbath, we are making a conscious decision to think about God, the spiritual way of life and His creation.


You don’t have to go far in the world to get the generalization that the life we live is absurd, and is a prelude to death. Just listen to the evening news or read the papers.


The Sabbath reminds us that life is just the opposite.


It reminds us that God is not dead, He isn’t finished with his creative process, why / we are living examples of how God keeps creating us, building us up in Him and creating us into a new person, in His image, we are not bound by this physical life / we are to be spending time here, getting to know our Savior, developing a relationship with Him that will last for eternity.

Let’s review.

God did rest on the 7th day, and He also commands us to rest.


But the concept of rest for those of us who believe that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, is not bound up in whether we are working or not, it’s about whether or not we are setting aside a time of spiritual activity with God and focus on preparing ourselves to live in this world and the next.


God is not in heaven / checking off on His cosmic list / the people who have decided to work on Sunday / and the people who have decided to go to church.


We were reminded last week in John 3:17 which tells us that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn us / but to save us.


I think that is why Mark shares with us how Jesus felt, when he kept being confronted by the Pharisees with the “working on the Sabbath” challenges.


Jesus saw their hard hearts and how the Pharisees were so caught up in catching people when they were doing wrong instead of leading people into doing right.

Jesus was trying to show them that God was more interested in having a relationship with them then in making sure they were doing everything “by the book”.


That is what worship is supposed to be about. It’s not about the order of service, the songs we sing, or whether we stand or sit. It’s about being here. Being in relationship with God and being in relationship with each other. It’s about taking time out of our busy lives and setting it apart as “holy”. And by walking in the presence of two or more other Christians, God has declared He is with us, and because God is here, this time is holy.


So, why do we have the Sabbath?


Because as humans, we need it.


God created it for us and He knew we would need a time to renew our spiritual and physical self. God has invested a tremendous amount in us, his creation, with the death of His own Son. By creating a Sabbath, God is protecting His investment. He set aside a specific period of time as a special time for Him to meet with His people and work on the relationship He has with each of us.

Without a Sabbath, we would become so bound up in the physical world we would lose our way. We need the weekly reminder that we are God’s spiritual creation,

And God is not finished with us yet!


Our worship time is a great time to stop and check in with the Master and be refreshed.


Let’s take an analogy from the sports world. Let’s say Tom Landry was coaching some of you men, and he told you to come to the field at noon, but you decided to go to a different field at a different time. Mr. Landry would have a difficult time coaching you.


Have you noticed that even though particular players have their own particular personalities, they have also absorbed some of the qualities and philosophy of their coach. For those of you who are deeply involved in athletics, you can tell whether a player has been trained by certain coach. An athlete subconsciously takes on the attributes of their coach, and that is why some coaches are desired and paid great deals of money.

God wants to be your coach. He wants you to desire Him as your coach. Having God as a coach is worth more than gold.


We also need fellowship time with other Christians.


To lift up and encourage others and

to be lifted up and encouraged by others.


God’s whole purpose for creating humans, in His image, was to have a relationship with them.


No other commandment identifies as closely to this purpose then the Fourth Commandment.


Let’s return now to the question I had you answer earlier…

Why did you come to church this morning?
Let’s pray.

God, help us to recognize our need to come together with others and worship you on a weekly basis. Thank you for not only desiring a relationship with us, but desiring to invest in us. There are times we don’t feel worthy. Help us to remember it is not about us, but about you / in us. I pray that each person in this room today, has met you today. Seen you in a different way and desires to continue to meet you and be taught by you. You have blessed us today with your presence. And for this we give you honor and glory. Amen.