Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16th - The Lord of the Sabbath

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Text – Acts 1:15-26, Exodus 20

Today we’re going to look at an oft misunderstood Commandment. In the Old Testament there are 613 laws, and they are all hard to keep, if not impossible. A somewhat strange, yet beautiful allegory sums it up and introduces us to this Commandment and how we should approach it.

Acts 1:15-22 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry." (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For it is written in the Book of Psalms, "'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it'; And "'Let another take his office.' So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."

The background is that there are twelve thrones in Heaven for twelve Apostles, but Judas Iscariot forfeited his position and his office of Apostle now needs to be fulfilled. Two people are put forth, lets look at them.

Acts 1:23-25 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place."

We’ve got two people put forth, what is the name of the first? Joseph, Barsabbas, and Justus, he’s got three names, and they’re all powerful names.

Joseph is a Old Testament name, it has a lot of tradition behind it, he’s a Jew of Jews, a Hebrew of Hebrews.
Justus is a very good title, it means he is an upright dude, he knows the law and keeps the law and is able to be a judge of matters of the law.
Barsabbas is the combination of two words, Bar – Son, and Sabbath – The Day of Rest.

This guy is a great keeper of the law, he is known among his friends as the Joseph the Just, he keeps the law as well as anybody possibly can while still being a sinner, and he keeps the Sabbath so religiously that they’ve named him the Son of the Sabbath.

And the other guy just has one name, Matthias. It’s just one name, but it’s a big name, it means the Gift of God.

Which one do you think God would choose?

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We can either try to work our way to Heaven, keeping the Sabbath, keeping 612 other laws, or we can trust in the Living Christ, who has given us eternal life.

Let’s look into this Sabbath to see if we need to be Sons of the Sabbath to be chosen by God, or why there is something far more glorious here. Lets do a real quick summary of the Law, which is summed up beautifully in the Ten Commandments. They are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.

1. Love the Lord your God

2. You shalt not bow down to idols

These can be as plain as little buddhas or totem-poles, but it also includes loving yourself more than God, or loving money.

3. You shalt not take the name of the Lord your God in vain

This is taking any name of God and using it without reverence. It can be as bad as the GD word, or as obscure as “Jumpin’ Jehoshephat (God the Judge)”, or maybe Geez…which is clearly the beginning of Jesus, or maybe Crikey which is the Australization of Christ. The Brits like to say “Bloody”, this references the precious blood that poured out. The French say, “Sacre Bleu” which means Sacred Heavens. Oh my Word, Man Alive, Goodness Gracious, OMG…you get the idea. It is also misrepresenting God through your life.

4. Honor the Sabbath Day, let’s read this one:

Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

We’re going to look at this one more in a little bit. Let me point out real quick though that the Bible reaffirms here that God created the world in six literal days.

5. Honor your Father and Mother, the first commandment with a promise, that you may live long on the earth.

6. Thou Shalt not Murder

Matthew 5:21-22 You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire.

7. Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery

Matthew 5:27-28 You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

8. Thou Shalt not Steal

9. Thou Shalt not Bear False Witness

Revelation 21:8 says that all liars will have their place in the Lake of Fire. Every one of these is deadly to your soul, whether you’re named something like Justus and you’ve sinned, for we know that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, or if you’re a serial killer. If you’ve sinned against God, his wrath abides on you.

10. Thou Shalt not Covet

This is saying that what God has given you isn’t enough. It was when Adam and Eve wanted to be God and took the only avenue available to try to become Gods.

James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

There are huge cults today who think that by keeping the Sabbath, they will go to Heaven. The Sabbath is Saturday, lets look real quick at Creation History. God created the world on Sunday, the atmosphere on Monday, the land and plants on Tuesday, the Sun and Moon on Wednesday, the fish and the fowl on Thursday, the land animals on Friday, and the very last thing he created was man late on Friday. On Saturday, God rested, and man rested with him.

Adam and Eve couldn’t take any credit at all for what God had done, because they weren’t even there. That is the old creation. All that Adam and Eve contributed was sin and death. The old creation is busted. (see Romans 8:20-22)

So God sent his Son to bear the reproach for our sins, to redeem us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for as one of the 613 laws said, cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree. He has made us what? New creations.

2 Corinthians 5:17 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

What day did Christ raise from the dead? Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, Sunday represents the new creation, it’s not the first day of the week, it is the eighth day of the week.

Ezekiel 20:11-12 I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live. Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them.

The Sabbath was a sign, a day of rest to point to something way farther down in history.

Matthew 12:8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.

Hebrews 4:9-10 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Jesus Christ is our Sabbath rest, not a day, but we rest in him, having ceased our attempted works for salvation, trusting fully on him that his works of obedience and then his death and resurrection have purchased for us an eternal rest. So now when we honor the Sabbath, we honor Jesus Christ, not just on Saturday or Sunday, but on every day.

So, back to Acts: the Apostles cast lots, that is tossed dice, so that God would pick and they wouldn’t be the ones that chose, either Barsabbas, who was trying to work his way to Heaven, or Matthias, trusting in the grace of God. (Casting lots is a pretty rare thing, and something we don’t need to do today because God has revealed his will to us through his Word)

Acts 1:26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

God chose the Gift of God over the works of the flesh. We are saved by grace, by the gift of God, not of works, so that we can’t boast.

Galatians 5:4-5 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.

If you think you’re going to Heaven because you go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday, Paul says that you’re severed from Christ, which means you’re severed from salvation.

The Pharisees came up with some pretty wild laws that you needed to keep to go to Heaven, included in these were laws about the Sabbath.

Acts 1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.

A Sabbath day’s journey was a made-up law that said you couldn’t walk more than about 2/5ths of a mile on Saturdays. How many of you live farther than 2/5ths of a mile from church? You couldn’t even come to church if this law was true, but it’s a made up law. We see throughout Acts people worshipping on Saturday and/or Sunday, the actual day we worship isn’t particularly important, as Paul says,

Colossians 2:16-17 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Romans 14:5-9 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.

So honor Christ every day, enter into his rest, trust in his work, receive his gift of salvation, and when you honor Christ, don’t do it to win salvation, but do it in thanks for his exceeding great promises and salvation.


Write a paragraph or two describing what sort of things Orthodox Jews cannot do on the Sabbath. Find at least five. Consider whether they are honoring the Lord of the Sabbath with their restrictions.

One good example is that they are not allowed to cook on Saturday, so they have special stoves that they can set on Friday to cook for them on Saturday…