Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Our Appointment With God

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Our Appointment with God

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Our Appointment With God

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This is a review of the Sabbath command of God for Christians, showing it to be something other than a human right to observe, but an obligation to maintain a relationship with God.

Sermon Notes

We, today, are blessed by God’s grace to assemble in His Holy name fulfilling the mandate by God our Father and Jesus Christ to keep the 4th Commandment as faithfully as the other nine commandments.

But, the 4th Commandment, it is unique in that it is a clearly community based command. You cannot have assembly without community, and it is a stipulated expectation to assemble if we are to obey the command. And, wow, because of this command, all of the other commands are brought to mind and put to practice as we learn from God, worship, and fellowship, spurring one another on to good works, all related to every commandment, statute, and judgment given by God.

I’m going to read in its entirety an inset found in the UCG Study Aid, “Sunset to Sunset: God’s Sabbath Rest”…

Our Appointment With God

In Leviticus 23:2-3 Leviticus 23:2-3 [2] Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. [3] Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×
God reveals an important aspect of the weekly Sabbath day and His other annual festivals: “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies … the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly’” (New International Version, emphasis added throughout).

God plainly says these are His feasts, His “sacred assemblies.” The Hebrew word mo`ed, the plural form here translated “appointed feasts,” means “appointed time” or “meeting” (Lawrence Richards, Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, 1985, “Feast/Festival”). “Sacred assemblies” and “sacred assembly” here are translated from miqra, which denotes a divinely summoned gathering.

In other words, God says His Sabbath is a divine appointment that He commands His people to keep through their gathering before Him with other believers (compare Hebrews 10:24-25 Hebrews 10:24-25 [24] And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: [25] Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×
).

Hebrews 10:24 Hebrews 10:24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
American King James Version×
  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,(continued…)Hebrews 10:25 Hebrews 10:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
American King James Version×
  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Notice that God is the one who sets the appointment, not us. He is the one who determines the time—that time being His weekly seventh-day Sabbath and His annual festivals. Weekly Sunday worship does not fulfill God’s command.

That raises an interesting question: If we don’t come before Him at the time He commands, either by not coming at all or coming on a different day, are we really keeping an appointment with Him?

If you make arrangements to meet with someone next Wednesday but he decides to show up on Thursday instead, would you think he had kept the appointment? Of course not. So why should we think God would find it acceptable if we decide to assemble on a day different from the one He commands?

The Sabbath is God’s day, not ours. It is a time He wants to meet with you, a time for reading His Word, for prayer, for fellowship with other believers, for your family—but, most of all, a time for His presence with you, especially as you are taught from His Word at His commanded assembly.

Most of Christendom, today, does not see any particular day as a day of commanded rest and assembly. You might have noticed in the last several weeks some complaints coming from American Christendom, because state and local governments were deeming them nonessential and not allowing them to meet. Was their complaint that the state was denying them the ability to fulfill a commandment of God? NOPE. Their complaint was established, instead, on their right to assemble according to the Constitution. 

The Church of God is not like most of Christendom, though. Our church observes the day as a commanded day of rest and assembly. It’s not about our rights as American citizens but goes much deeper to a specific appointment commanded of us to share with God. In some countries, if they don’t see it as a command of God, they don’t have a constitution that protects their rights, so they have no moral recourse. They either accept the constraint or they choose to rebel for the sake of a desired right.

If you’ve been in the Church of God any amount of time, you’ve probably heard the Sabbath command defined as the “test commandment.” It seems  to be the commandment that tests people’s faith the most. For instance, many have faced the challenge of, on the one hand, keeping their job or, on the other, keeping the Sabbath, and only those with faith are still among us.

In what ways have you been tested but have successfully passed the test? When we failed, did we not, after assessing our mistake and repenting, develop a deeper love and respect for living the way our Divine Instructor designed? In developing that deeper love did we become more fearful or more confident? Obviously, it instilled confidence because God certainly blessed our decision.

I don’t have time to include it, but Hebrews 13:18 Hebrews 13:18Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.
American King James Version×
associates having confidence as being a result of making right decisions.

What tests are ahead of us as individuals and as an assembly of believers? What new and unusual reasons, expectations, or demands from society might cause us to justify not resting or not assembling together according to God’s command?

What we never want to do is make decisions based on fear of the unknown. Decisions should be governed only by the law of God and the wisdom we derive from the understanding that law gives us.

The passage that always comes to my mind when dealing with the unknown, also including God’s instruction for dealing with that unknown, is found in Matthew 6:31-34 Matthew 6:31-34 [31] Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? [32] (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. [33] But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. [34] Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
American King James Version×
.

Matthew 6:31 Matthew 6:31Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
American King James Version×
  ”Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
Matthew 6:32 Matthew 6:32(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
American King James Version×
  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. (continued…)
Matthew 6:33 Matthew 6:33But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.
American King James Version×
  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:34 Matthew 6:34Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.
American King James Version×
  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Where should we take any of our burdens, including fear?

I might say something like the following…

I need a break from people this Sabbath. God knows I need a break. (based on self)
I know today is the Sabbath, but this is the women’s final of the Australian Open? (based on desire)
I know it’s the Sabbath, but I’m only asked to come to work for an hour or two on one Sabbath in the month. I can even still come to church. If I don’t accept I will lose my job, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to feed my family? (based on fear)

All of these are burdens, but God gives us the solution for all burdens.

Psalms 55:22 Psalms 55:22Cast your burden on the LORD, and he shall sustain you: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
American King James Version×
  Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:28 Matthew 11:28Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
American King James Version×
  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
American King James Version×
  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:30 Matthew 11:30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
American King James Version×
  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Clearly, we are to take any burden we have, including fear of the unknown, to God.

I invite everyone to take aside some time in the days ahead, and before we come to Pentecost next week, to review the 4th Commandment to bolster our understanding of God’s expectations surrounding it. This review will also be directly applicable to Pentecost and all of God’s Holy assemblies. God made an appointment with us, today, so may God bless us for keeping that appointment.