"The Christian Sabbath..."??
Wednesday, November 29, 2000
Many people worldwide have seen clearly and decisively that they have been fed a diet of “empty traditions handed down” about this subject, and have just taken the religious system’s word for “Sunday services.” They have come to realize in many, many cities and countries (many letters we receive daily have made this obvious!) that much “teaching” about “attending” on “the christian sabbath” (and related topics) is shallow thinking. It is often taught erroneously, and readily accepted, to accommodate a lifestyle of convenience and sentimental pigeonholing of Spirit-Life in the Body of Christ. The Record shows something very different: normal people, newly bought by the Blood of Jesus, coming out of ritual and form and attendance, and now giving their lives to God and His Kingdom and His People 24 hours a day, every day, as a natural result of the Spirit’s Life within, begun at Pentecost. They were far from “meeting-centered” and would be aghast at the Life of Jesus (in His Body) being expressed in such a way when the Master Himself never did such a thing while here in body or spirit. Many now recognize and celebrate that the Bible does not support or teach or exemplify a “theology” (or “ecclesiology”) of moving the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
Interestingly, the word “Shabbath” means Saturday, as the Roman day is called, and cannot mean “Sunday”—by the very translation of the word itself. There is NO basis or convincing reasoning in the Holy Spirit’s Record in the twenty-five years He recorded in the Book of Acts, or in the Teachings of Jesus or the Apostles for the concept of “a Christian Holy Day” and a “Christian Sabbath” on Sunday to hold “services” to be attended. Not on Saturday OR Sunday, as a Christian ordinance, as so commonly practiced and usually taught by those with something to gain from such a thing financially or personally.
Paul said, “I fear I’ve wasted my time on you because you regard special days!” God also said in the New Testament that some people “with weaker faith” would “count one day as special.” Out of sixty years and thousands of words in the New Testament, those that would desire to build an entire christian system on a “Sabbath”—shift from Saturday to Sunday have no realistic basis in the Scriptures for creating such a thing.
Could we live through such a radical departure from the crutches of “the traditions of men” as ceasing from this man-made mandate of a Sunday “service”? OH, YES! We can do far more than survive!!!!!! In fact, we’ll never learn to “RUN” as long as we’re content to stay “safe” in the “wheelchairs” of “traditions” that do not find their true basis in JESUS’ LIFE and WORDS! We don’t need to be afraid of that honest Truth. I know many of us were told we would be hit by a lightning bolt for not “attending” an organization’s meeting (whether in a cathedral or in a living room) on a “holy day”! An honest reading of the New Testament would find no such concept as a “christian sabbath” as the centerpiece of Christianity—as is surely and obviously the case in institutional and culturally-convenient Christendom of today. And fifteen years of something and someOne far surpassing men’s ways have convinced us that it’s not only “safe” out here…but also GLORIOUS!
However! No matter how easy it is to see through that matter in an honest and unbiased reading of the Teachings and the Record the Holy Spirit has given us—don’t forget that “the Law” and “the Temple” and “the Sabbath” are “the shadow of the reality that is found in Christ”!!!!!!!!!!! Stay with me—this couldn’t be any more important for those that understand the above as obvious. While a “holy day” is not God’s Way in this Covenant, there is a shadow lesson, as always, that is essential to walk in! Certainly JESUS is that Rest (Heb. 4-10; Col. 2:16-17; Rev. 21:23; etc.)! But…
All of the many Commands from God in the First Covenant regarding the Sabbath have meaning!
In other words, it is very safe to say that God deeply desires that we bury ourselves in Him, and not in our work and our duties and distractions and noises! Surely we have learned that much from all of the multitudinous Thoughts of God regarding the “shadow” of the First Covenant and its “Sabbath” or “Saturday.” We must each, in order to honor the Intent of God regarding “Shabbath,” fulfilled and magnified and made Visible in His Son, take time and focus from all other things and noises and demands…and devote it wholeheartedly to Him. The “Most Holy Place” is a very quiet and peaceful place!
We don’t sacrifice animals any longer—but rather we are “living sacrifices” celebrating and participating in the Cross of Jesus, “the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world,” in our practical living situations at home, on the job, and in our weekends and evenings. The “New Agreement” fulfills, but doesn’t “erase,” the Old. The Temple worship is not in Jerusalem any longer. “The day has come,” as Jesus put it to the “woman at the well.” The “Temple” is now daily, worshipful Life amongst God’s People as a “Habitation” of God, individually and as a local expression of “joined and knit together by every supporting ligament” in the Church, being “called alongside daily so that none are hardened and deceived by sin.”
The “types and shadows” are alive and better, not ritually continued or eliminated.
• It is true for animal sacrifice—which was a vital part of the “Old Agreement” as a “visual aid” for “those of us upon whom the apex of the ages has fallen.” There is now a true and better “fulfillment” of this Command to God’s People in the “Old Agreement”!
• It is true for Temple worship in Jerusalem. There is NOW a true and better fulfillment, and no longer just a “shadow,” as the Scriptures call them.
• And the same is true for the “Shabbath”! It has not “gone away” because we are more Spiritual now than to accept it as a day for rituals and sacraments (whether protestant or catholic) during “mass” (whether protestant or catholic). The Sabbath is for REAL! There is simply a higher fulfillment, not a lack of fulfillment!! And, as with the other “shadows” God gave us “as schoolmasters to lead us to Christ,” we want to embrace and walk in the “reality” (Gr: “soma”)! So what does that mean practically? Take the time to separate yourself in the blood and spirit of Jesus, apart from the sensory overload, the world and your flesh and your “responsibilities” and your television and computer and sports may want to feed you! There is a Sabbath Rest for the People of God, in Christ. Let’s GO there, in the most enriching possible way, for His sake!
The Sabbath, as it was on Saturday in the Old Covenant is “obsolete” according to the Hebrews writer, and according to Paul by the Spirit. It must not be external “form” expressed religiously on Saturday—or culturally and traditionally “shifted” to Sunday, without true Biblical basis. But the Sabbath is still part of God’s heart in the REAL sense, and we need to explore and honor the REAL meaning of it! We must not let this simply slip away in an “invisible” realm of nothing (disobedience and loss), or shove it into a “traditional” realm of shallow understanding and life by having some “special day,” as Paul called it. Remember how serious God was about setting our time and ourselves aside for Him in the Old Covenant, and “keeping set apart (holy) the Sabbath”? Now what was that “visual aid” for?? Isn’t that enough reason to believe that He believes it is essential for us to come to Him on that basis, without distractions or other duties pressing us into their molds and into their servitude? Let’s take all of this to the highest possible level—not to the ritual Old Covenant visual aid and “form,” nor to neglect or hyper-spiritualizations. The “Father seeks” those that will form the priorities and take the steps necessary in their practical lives to Live the Shabbath, with the essential times of separation clearly implied from the “visual aid” of the Old. Have you set aside time for Him today? (And I surely am not referring to some pre-programmed gimmicky calendar-ized and “Daytimer-ized” block of time—but rather being enveloped by, and led by the Spirit of Christ into knowing how and when to respond to His Direction and the cravings “like newborn babes” that He instills in us if we’re listening!) In a Church that is built His Way (Acts 2:42-47, for example), “teamwork” and taking turns with children and other chores for each other is easy to do, if we’re inclined. In an unbiblical church environment of “every man doing what’s right in his own eyes” for six days out of every week, it’s tougher—granted. But you! Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking! Jehovah loves to Jireh. : ) He loves to give Good Gifts to those who ask Him. But you’ve got to put the same priority on the Quiet Place of the Most Holy—the Sabbath of Life set apart for being with Him, with nothing else distracting or grabbing after you, that He obviously does. He’s illustrated His heart for this clearly in “THE SABBATH” that He called Israel to, and continues to invite us to share with Him in the non-shadow and most full way!
Surely this is all obvious, but I’ve been told that it can’t hurt to remind!!