We anticipate the Feast of Tabernacles all year long. When we come home from the Feast of Tabernacles, it can feel like a low point in the year. We have a weekly festival that we can rejoice and worship God each week. The Sabbath day is a holy time. It's a special gift from God.
[Andy Duran] You know, by now, most of us, especially here in the room, that’d be an odd trick if you aren’t, have returned from the Feast of Tabernacles. Most of the whole congregation has returned. Hopefully, we’re spiritually recharged and we’re ready. We’re ready for a long and cold winter. But when thinking about the time that’s coming ahead, with the season that’s coming up and sometimes, the lack of Holy Days, annual Holy Days that we see, sometimes it can be our natural reaction to kind of fizzle out, maybe kind of get a little down, a little discouraged, waiting for that other annual Holy Day to come.
As a way of introduction, turn with me over to Exodus 20. I wanted to take the day here today just to… we’ll start with a refresher verse, Exodus 20:8 Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
American King James Version×, we see one of the commandments recorded for us. In verse 8 of Exodus 20, it says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work.” So it’s a Sabbath rest. A day we are commanded to take a break and to focus on God. For the sermon time today, I thought it’d be interesting if we went through this command. Let’s take the time to go through the Sabbath command and see what a special gift, special, good gift it is to us that God has given us for this time today.
It’s interesting when we read here in verse 8, it says, “Remember the Sabbath.” It happens every seven days, how could we forget? But yes, we are told to remember the Sabbath. And when keeping the Sabbath, there are other things that we can actually remember when keeping it. As I kind of alluded to in my introduction, as very brief that it was, you can hold your place here, but turn over to Leviticus 23. Now, maybe this is a familiar section of Scripture to you. Likely, we’ve heard some Scriptures from it recently, Leviticus 23 is a wonderful chapter that details the Holy Days of God, the festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day that we just celebrated.
And in Leviticus 23, we see here in verse 1, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.’” And which one does it list first? Verse 3, “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day. It’s a day of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” It’s a remarkable day that we get to pause and we get to remember God and we get to formally come together as an assembly to worship Him. It’s a wonderful time.
And really, and I’ve been the same way, when we celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, we often wait all year long for that. It’s an anticipation of the year. You know, it’s like, maybe you can think of a roller coaster, you’re getting up to the top. I don’t know if a lot of you ride roller coasters. I tend not to anymore. But you’re waiting on that chain up that roller coaster and click, click, click. And that anticipation of waiting for the drop as you fly over that roller coaster. Maybe the Feast Of Tabernacles is like that for us. It’s a highlight of the year, we get to travel and we get to spend the majority of our second tithe, and we get to buy anything that our heart desires, and we get to celebrate before the Lord. It’s a wonderful time, a peak of the year for many.
But then afterward, like I mentioned, sometimes we can feel like the bottom, at the end of the roller coaster maybe, waiting, for now, that next season. We got to go through manmade holidays and dark times of the year. But what’s important about the Sabbath day is that God shows us it’s not just another day. It is a festival, not an annual festival, but a weekly festival. A wonderful festival that we can take part in each and every week. A festival that we can come together and to celebrate God. It’s a remarkable festival. Turn with me back to Exodus 20. Exodus 20:8 Exodus 20:8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
American King James Version×. So it says, “Remember the Sabbath day,” and when we’re keeping the Sabbath, we can remember that it is a special time, it is a Holy Day, a holy convocation. It is something special to God and it should be to us.
But as we’re keeping that Sabbath, there are other things that we can remember, things that the Sabbath helps point us back to, and in the future. We’ll get to that in a little bit, but if we look at verse 11, it says, “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.” You see, even as is recorded here, God is pointing us back to the institution, back to what we can remember when keeping the Sabbath. And let’s turn back there. In Genesis 2, it’s pointing to the creation. The recreation of the earth in Genesis 2, let’s start in verse 4. It says, “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
So here, we see started in verse 4 that this is the history. This is the record of the creation. You can think of creation of all that we see, it happened over a six-day period. A remarkable six-day period where all the physical, all the things we see and even the things that we don’t, like the laws of the physical world, all that was brought together and reordered and made for what we see today, all over a six-day period. And then, throughout it all, God took a break, didn’t He? Let’s look at verse 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. Then God blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
You see, throughout all this work, God took a break, and He modeled for us a new way, a way that we can rest as well and take a break. And so when keeping the Sabbath, we can remember that it is a festival to God. And then, it also points back to creation. It commemorates creation and a time where God put it all together for us with a grand plan until the end. It hearkens back to this creation, and what God did by example, He rested and He showed us how we can rest, too. Verse 3, it doesn’t just say that He rested alone, but then it says, “Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.” You see, God sanctified the Sabbath day. You can look at different word studies or different commentaries that point on this. TWOT has a couple of quotes that I’ll read from it, it says, “The sanctified, the Hebrew word that’s translated sanctified, is a state of that which belongs to the sphere of the sacred.” You know, if you have ever taken a religious class, there’s a bunch of discussions on what is sacred. But we see here that God placed a day that’s set apart. He placed it in a sphere of what would be sacred.
Another quote, it says is “This,” whatever the Hebrew word is pointing to, so in this context, the Sabbath day, “is distinct from anything common or anything profane. It’s unique. It’s outside the common.” And I found that an interesting perspective because the Sabbath day is every seven days. It seems as common as you get. But we’re told that it’s not common. It’s outside the realm of common. It’s not profane. It’s not the common thing. God set it apart. It’s different than the original six days. It’s different from the others. It’s about the Sabbath being something different, set apart, being clean, pure, or consecrated. The Sabbath was established as something different in our lives. He created it as a holy time, a special time. And it’s something that we can cherish and take part in every week. It’s not like the common other workdays of our life. You know, for six days, it says, “You shall work, but the seventh, you shall not do that normal work.”
And so when remembering to keep the Sabbath and when we’re observing the Sabbath, it hearkens back to these concepts. It shows us creation and it shows us our Creator God, who made all the heavens and the earth. You know, you can think of the Psalms and David when he writes, “What is man that you are mindful of him?” He looks at all the stars and all the universes and galaxies out there, and he thinks about, “Why do you care about us?” God does care about us. And He set aside a special time that we have a formal time, a special time where we can come together, and we can remember Him as our Creator God.
There are actually three things I wanted to bring out today that we can keep in mind and that we can remember. I’m going to save the last one until the end. So, we’re going to take a sandwich here, we’re going to go back to Exodus 20. So do that if you will, go back with Exodus 20 with me. Because there are three things that I’d like to propose for us to consider today as we keep the Sabbath. In Exodus 20, He starts by saying, “Remember the Sabbath.” And then it says, “To keep it holy.” We’ve touched on it now just briefly, but the Sabbath is a holy time. And God’s telling us, “Okay, remember it, keep it, but don’t just keep it any old way, but keep it a holy way.” It says, “Keep it holy.”
Now, how do we do this? How do we keep God’s Sabbath holy? Well, there are many ways we can do this. The first I’d like to bring out is remembering a key component of what holy is, and that’s God’s connection to what holy is. Look at Exodus 3. When you talk about what is holiness, you really have to start with God because God is holy. Exodus 3:5 Exodus 3:5And he said, Draw not near here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground.
American King James Version×, “Then He said, ‘Do not draw near to this place.’” And I’ll give you a little context. My notes, I didn’t realize, are jumping right in the middle, right? Hopefully, you’re familiar with this story. This is the story of the burning bush where God comes and speaks to Moses. It says, “The Lord appeared to him, and God called him from the midst of a bush.” That’s in verse 4. And then in verse 5, “Then He said, ‘Do not draw near to this place. Take off your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’”
If you ever read about this in some of the commentaries, not a lot of commentaries touch the holy ground aspect. There are some that kind of tackle it a bit and they don’t get it wrong. But it seems to be a topic that most try to steer away from. There seems to be some confusion with holiness. You see, why was the ground holy? Why was the ground holy? Why did he have to take off his sandals? This is a common practice to take off the shoes. They would have been obviously wearing sandals at this time. A very common practice in the Middle Eastern and the near Eastern cultures. They still do this in the Far East today. When they go into temples and they go into different things, they take off their shoes, because they recognize. But what God was telling him to do here is take it off because “It is holy ground of where you stand.”
And so the question is, why is it holy ground? It’s an interesting question. Well, the answer simply is because God is there. Because God is holy and when God’s presence is with something, that then is holy by extension. That’s one aspect of what makes something holy is God’s presence in it by His Spirit. The ground was holy for that moment while God was there. Let’s partner this with another aspect. Let’s turn to 1 Peter 2 because we see other examples of holy things. 1 Peter 2. When asking how we keep the Sabbath holy, we must remember that God’s presence is one aspect of what makes something holy. 1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×, we see some wonderful Scripture here concerning the church. It says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
Do you catch that? It says, “A holy nation.” You know, collectively, as the people of God, we are a holy nation. And why holy? Well in part, because of God’s presence, God dwelling in us by His Holy Spirit. And by another part, we can see just a little bit of a tidbit here, another perspective, it’s by God setting us apart. It says that He “called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.” You know, just like at creation when God did something for six days and then did something different, He set that different aside. He calls us out of the common, out of the un-unique world, out of the darkness and the chaos, the evilness of society and He brings us into His marvelous light. He sets us apart for something special.
It’s a remarkable section of Scripture because it even says, “His own special people.” If you read up a little bit in verse 9, it says, “His own special people.” It’s remarkable when you read it in the Greek, “His own special” is one word in the Greek, and it really means acquiring some way, like purchasing, but not just with some simple money or simple exchange of goods. It’s a tough thing that this is acquired through. This is something that is acquired with a big task at hand, something with much effort. And what effort it is that, that we are acquired? A perfect life, by the blood of Jesus Christ, the very Son of God. You can read in other Scriptures where it says, “We are bought with the blood of Jesus Christ.” And it says, “He’s from darkness and into light.” You see, we are set aside as a special people for a special calling now, and He’s building His family going forward, unique in purpose and placing in time.
It just reminds me of the blessing. You know, many of the prayers just a little bit ago asked for God’s blessing on that, that God would watch over them and keep them in His calling and help Him as the baby grows and matures. You know, God calls us from a separate thing for a special purpose. And as God’s people, as special people, as we’re looking through what is holiness, as being a holy nation, we must then keep the Sabbath holy as well. And this is one way that we do it. You see, we must keep God a part of observing the Sabbath. That’s one way that makes something holy, right, it’s God’s presence in that event, or by God setting it apart. So, we must not separate ourselves from God on the Sabbath day by praying and we need to meditate, and then discussing with one another what we talk about, what we prayed about that week, or what we read about in the Bible.
Some of those conversations can be some of the most encouraging conversations. Learning from one another about what we studied throughout the week. I love hearing what we studied throughout the week because we all have different aspects, different perspectives. There’s so much in here that it just makes the most efficient sense that we all study it and then share. Maybe that’s more of my computer science background, but that is some serious multitasking. And that is efficient and that is great and that helps us keep the Sabbath holy because we’re focused in on God. We’re sharing in the Holy Day with God and His people, a very special people, a holy nation.
Another way that we can keep God’s Sabbath holy is we should prepare for the Sabbath. We should prepare for the Sabbath. There are two main aspects to this, the physical and the spiritual. If you think about the physical aspect of preparing for the Sabbath, if we’re understanding that the Sabbath is a unique day, it’s a day set apart, it’s not that common or that ordinary day, we should remember that we should prepare for it. That it’s something that should be always on our mind, that it’s just right around the corner. It happens every seven days. We should remember that and we should prepare for it. Now, I’m not simply talking about the simple things, right, like bathing or washing up, brushing our teeth. Those are definitely great things to do. But the other physical things as well. We should take time in preparing for a day that we won’t be doing the normal. It’s different individually, but maybe for you, it’s gassing up your car, or maybe you like to get it washed or something, something special. I’m not going to say anything specific. I mean, we all have different individual lives, but preparing for the Sabbath and getting the physical things to do, cleaning up and making every attempt to prepare for that end of the week so that’s not just a normal day, so that our errands are done.
Oh, man, I can’t even begin to say. You know, sometimes, I’d forget an errand, and it would happen on the Sabbath day and it would be a downer. It would take my mind off of what everything else was going on, it would take my mind off the spiritual. And it’s like, “I forgot to pay such and such.” But if we’re remembering the Sabbath day is coming and we’re preparing for it in that physical sense, we can then help keep it holy, keeping it set apart from our normal routine. And so then we can ask ourselves, “Am I preparing physically?” You know, “Am I preparing physically?” Over the years, we’ve had different phrases or different things about preparing for the Sabbath.
A lot of people take extra time on a Friday to prepare for the upcoming Sabbath. Sometimes, we can have excuses throughout our weeks. Maybe we work really busy. You know, my former job, I can remember working tens of tens of tens of hours, right, not hundreds. It wasn’t that much. But I remember being busy, I remember life being busy, I remember everything being busy. And sometimes, it felt like I was just sliding into the Sabbath. There was smoke coming off. It was the hardest thing. But sometimes, we need to prepare for that Sabbath, making sure that, okay, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances, but that shouldn’t be the normal. Because God says, “We should keep it holy.” It should be a special time, a unique time. God has said multiple places, “Be you holy for I am holy.” And that applies to what He calls holy. Part of that recognizes our six-day labor has to be separate from the seventh-day rest for God.
All right, flip it to the other side of the coin. That’s preparing physically. What about preparing spiritually through the six days? Through the six days of the week, are we preparing spiritually for the Sabbath day? Let’s look at two examples here. Let’s look at 2 Chronicles 12. Although these examples aren’t specifically about the Sabbath, there’s an element of the story that definitely applies to preparing for the Sabbath. 2 Chronicles 12, let’s start in verse 1. And we won’t take all the time to go through this story. It’s not the purpose of the sermon today. But in 2 Chronicles 12:1 2 Chronicles 12:1And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him.
American King James Version×, it says, “Now it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom and had strengthened himself, that he forsook the law of the Lord, and all of Israel along with him.”
All right, let’s scroll down, or read down, I guess. Verse 13, “Thus King Rehoboam strengthened himself in Jerusalem and reigned. Now Rehoboam was forty-one years old and he had become king; and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put His name there. His mother’s name was Naamah, an Ammonitess. And he did…” and here’s the clincher, “he did evil.” So, that’s his legacy, he did evil. Now, there’s a lot to the story of Rehoboam that we won’t get into today. But the capstone is he did evil. And why did he do evil? Well, it says right there, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. Rehoboam put God aside, is another way of saying it, maybe. He put God aside when he was leading. When he was doing his own thing, he didn’t consider the will of God. He didn’t consider what God’s plan was for the people, and he did his own thing. And he caused some trouble and “he did evil,” as it says here, “he did evil.” And he failed because he failed to prepare his heart to seek the Lord.
We can apply that principle of preparing our heart to seek the Lord to the Sabbath services, to the Sabbath day. If we take that time… You can think of Sabbath services specifically. We come together as a family, we’re all one family here, and we come together to grow together, we come to worship God together, we come to seek the Lord. And we must then prepare for this day throughout the week. You know, obviously, the Sabbath is a rest day. But it’s not just a rest day. It’s not just about not doing things. It’s about doing the good things, coming to seek the Lord, learning to fear the Lord, learning from God’s Word. What more does God have in my life? What will does He have for me?
Now, as each one of us sit and listen to the messages each Sabbath service, we get a little bit more of what God wants me to do in my life, and we get expounded the very words of God in the Bible that we have. And that’s remarkable. But if we follow the example of, well, many of the kings of Israel and Judah, if we follow the majority of them, well, they all did evil. Well, the majority, they did evil in the sight of the Lord. In this case, Rehoboam, he failed to prepare his heart to seek the Lord.
Let’s look at a successful story. Turn with me over to Ezra 7. Ezra 7, if you’re familiar with the context, you have the people returning after captivity, Ezra is amongst them. And Ezra is a remarkable example of someone who did good. And he was a priest, and he was a scribe. In Ezra 7, let’s begin reading… actually, let’s set up a little context. Let’s go over to verse 21 of chapter 8, so Ezra 8:21 Ezra 8:21Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
American King James Version×, there’s this whole situation that’s going on there. It’s a connected story. The people are coming back from captivity. And Ezra, he sees a situation and the journey is long from where they’re captive back to where they came from, and it’s dangerous. The roads, you know, who knows what’s going to go on, on those roads? And Ezra, he feels a little worried. He’s like, “Well, I don’t want to ask the king for a protected army. We have God on our side.”
So, he wonders to himself and he thinks, verse 21, “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, and seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and our possessions.” There’s an instance where Ezra stops and he stops what’s going on and he asks God. He sets up a fast. We do this in United when we have a certain thing that we want to all come together and be united in a certain purpose, we’ll proclaim a fast to humble ourselves and to ask the will of God for a situation. Ezra does that here. And now let’s go back to chapter 7. We’re jumping around, but it’s all part of the same story. Chapter 7 and verse 10, it says, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
See, we see here an instance of a man succeeding in what he should be doing, because he purposes in his heart to first seek God, to seek the law of the Lord, to seek what we should do, instead of just relying on our own selves, like Rehoboam. You know, Rehoboam tries to be this big, tough leader. I think that I’m going to get that quote wrong, so I’ll leave it out. Now, you’re all on the edge of your seats. But as a contrast from Rehoboam, Ezra seeks the Lord. He seeks what the will of God would be in his life so that he can learn and he can do them and then he can teach them to the people as a faithful priest and scribe. And he calls that fast when they need to travel and they ask for God’s protection and his will in their life. He seeks God first in these things, and that’s the important part. We apply this to how we observe the Sabbath.
These stories aren’t specifically about the Sabbath, but they show priorities. They show about seeking the Lord before you do things. And then you can ask yourselves, “So we have six days of work throughout the week, am I preparing spiritually? Am I reading the Word of God?” I always think about fasting from food. This is something that we’ve all done recently, hopefully. And we fast from food and we… what’s the number one thing on your mind when you’re fasting, physically? Well, food, right? I fast and I start to break down at the end of the fast and it’s like, “I could just eat everything.” I want to go to a restaurant… my wife doesn’t like all-you-can-eats. But if she did, we would go there and I would want to eat everything. But what’s sad is I actually couldn’t eat that much, because there’s an interesting connection with fasting and then not being able to eat a lot.
I don’t mean to… it makes me think of a more sad or somber story if you think about the concentration camps of World War II. When the Allies came and liberated those camps, some of those people were just beyond starved. And they had to actually hold back giving them so much water and so much food because it was dangerous. You can’t eat all that so quickly after starving yourself. Well, they didn’t in their instance but fasting, if you think about it. And so if you apply that to the spiritual, how much more will we get out of Sabbath services if we’re eating throughout the week? If we’re eating the words of God, if we’re not living by physical bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, how much more will we get out of Sabbath services? How much more will we get out of the Sabbath if we prepare our mind spiritually to seek the Lord? We’ll get a lot more out of it if we prepare the week, by not starving ourselves from the Word of God. That’s a remarkable thing that we can remember.
And so, we need to prepare for the Sabbath since it is a separate day. Another way that we can keep the Sabbath holy, if we narrow down on Sabbath services now, one way that we can keep Sabbaths holy is by respecting Sabbath services, excuse me, by respecting Sabbath services. One element of this, if you look… well, one element is that when we come to Sabbath services, we should come ready to engage, ready to be fully locked in, ready to engage with one another on a personal level. Let’s turn to Hebrews 10 for this. Hebrews 10, we’ll see a wonderful principle concerning coming together to engage one another. Hebrews 10:23 Hebrews 10:23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
American King James Version×. Chapter 10 and verse 23 of Hebrews says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” He starts with a little bit of encouragement. He says, “Hold fast.” You know, let’s keep on keeping, He’s saying. Let’s do the right thing, staying focused, staying motivated on the task at hand. We should understand what we ought to be doing. And then not staying still, not staying stagnant, but moving forward, by holding fast the confession of our hope.
It says, “Hold fast confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful.” And then it says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” You know, as being a family of God, as being a family, we should be tight-knit. We should be considering one another, and I hope we do that. And I’m sure we do that. We consider one another in the more serious things in our life, maybe even the more simpler things in our life. We consider one another and we look to encourage one another, help stir up one another. That almost sounds negative, you know, you stir up one another, like, “I’m really going to put it to you.” Or push the buttons would be a modern equivalent, push the buttons. It sounds almost like that, but it’s not that, it says, “Stir up,” what, “to love and to good works.” You know, encouraging one another in love and good works. Considering one another for these things.
And then it continues by saying, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching.” We have this commission to encourage one another. God gives us many instructions through the Bible, and one of them is to encourage one another. It says, “Don’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” Because Sabbath services, it is an assembling. We assemble ourselves. And as we read in Leviticus 23, we proclaim a holy convocation on that day. In our modern times, it probably looks a lot different than when Paul kept different elements. Everyone has in different times. We come together for Sabbath services at this holy part and we learn and we come together and we consider one another and we encourage one another. All these things add up to how we do these things when we come together.
And it says, “Not forsaking the assembling of one another.” We shouldn’t just think, “Eh, I don’t really feel the best today. I’m not going to come out. I’m not really up for it. I had a busy week.” Those things, we shouldn’t have all those excuses. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances. But we shouldn’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together because we need it. We need to be assembled together. And it’s going to be tougher, especially as “the Day is approaching” as it says here. Things will get tougher. Things will get harder. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us. The world will be deceived, but we shouldn’t be. We should rely on God and look at what He has proclaimed. And by assembling together, we help stir one another and up.
I can’t help but think of the analogy of the fire, right? You have these burning embers. One time I went on a camping adventure with a buddy. It was very hot out, so we decided to sleep outside. Well, in the middle of that night, it then began to rain. So we’re under this pouring rain sleeping outside in our sleeping bags. We were young teenagers. Of course, we didn’t go back into the tent. We’re next to the fire and the fire is going out. You hear the pss, pss, and the fire is just starting to dwindle. What was our natural response? We’re stirring it up. We’re trying to get those embers going. We’re heating them up. Because when you get them close together, they stay burning longer.
If you apply that to the Body of Christ, we’re going to burn hot and long if we’re together. But if we separate ourselves, if we don’t assemble, if we forsake the assembling, we’re going to burn out quickly because we need one another. And as a family, that’s a remarkable thing we can look forward to each and every Sabbath day. It’s a wonderful thing we can celebrate together as a family coming together and not forsaking the assembling. That’s another way that we can help keep the Sabbath holy.
Another way with this idea of, or with the element of coming to Sabbath services, we should come to Sabbath services with the mindset of being a spiritual listener. So, we need to engage one another, but we should also spiritually listen. Listening is a pretty intense acquired skill. Most of the time, we’re not great at it. But when we learn to listen, it’s a remarkable thing that can happen. When two people talk, the truth is one person is speaking and the other one’s rarely listening to what’s going on, because we think a lot. There are studies out there that show… well, they show average words per minute, right? When you speak maybe 100 to 150 words per minute, 120 words per minute, the average. But when thinking, they say thinking rate, so we have sometimes between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. I have no idea how they guessed that. But I know it’s got to be somewhat true because we do, we think a ton.
Right now, in this moment, I say something, maybe it sparks a thought in your mind and then boom, we’re off on another trail, we’re on another topic. And that’s not always a bad thing. You know, God is definitely inspiring our hearing as we’re here at Sabbath services. But when we come to Sabbath services, we should remember to be spiritual listeners, remembering to listen and not be distracted by all sorts of things.
Let’s turn to Matthew 13. When we keep the Sabbath holy, part of that is making sure we respect Sabbath services, and it helps to come ready to listen, ready to learn. Matthew 13:10 Matthew 13:10And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables?
American King James Version×, “And the disciples came to Him and said to Him, ‘Why do You speak to them in parables?’ And He answered and said to them, ‘Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and whoever has an abundance…’” Oh, “and he will have an abundance.” Excuse me. “But whoever does not have, even that what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them, the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, ‘Hearing you will hear and you shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.’”
We have been given a great blessing in our calling. God has revealed to us the mysteries that are not for other people at this time. Mysteries that have been revealed by divine intervention. And so the point here is when we come to Sabbath services and we take the opportunity to be as a group and to engage with one another and to listen to the messages, we should remember that we should be actively listening. Because what’s being spoken of, we pray for God’s inspiration in services, don’t we? And we pray for the speaking, and we pray for the hearing that God will work with us in our lives by what we hear. I always find it interesting in this prophecy, it says, right in the middle there, verse 15, “Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed.”
There’s a part of a personal responsibility here. We must make sure that we don’t close our eyes off. We shouldn’t stop up our ears. We should be prepared to listen for things on the Sabbath, prepared to understand, and to learn from God. And if we don’t, we could potentially risk growing dull and not hearing. Growing dull and stopping up our ears. And we must not fall into the rut. Now, I’ve done this myself. The rut of, “Well, it’s just another seven days. It’s just another Sabbath. We do this all the time.” And it becomes common for us. It becomes the ordinary. And although we do it weekly, and it is common in that sense, it’s to be a special time. A time that we don’t just get stuck in the rut. We should be spiritually listening, ready during each service. This is one way that we can respect Sabbath service, and then, therefore, keeping the Sabbath holy.
Okay. If we shift back to remembering the Sabbath, I said we’d cover one more aspect of remembering the Sabbath. Well, that aspect is that the Sabbath really is a type of a future to come. A remarkable future to come that we get reminded to every week. Look at Colossians 2. Colossians 2:16 Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
American King James Version×, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in regarding of a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,” it says, “which are a shadow of things to come.” There’s a lot packed into this little verse, and we won’t go through it all today. But what we really bring out here and what we’ve seen for generations now is that God’s Holy Days, God’s Sabbaths, they are a shadow of something to come. And it’s a remarkable thing that we get to take part in weekly and annually.
You can think of a shadow. If you see a bird flying in the air, if they’re a big enough bird, you can see their shadow on the ground. Or I guess a better example would be a plane, they’re bigger. But a shadow is an accurate, albeit sometimes partial rendering of the reality of what’s blocking the light, right? And so, what we’re seeing here is that the Sabbath, the Festivals of God, they are a shadow of something to come. They are an outline. God’s Holy Days, His Sabbaths, represent something to come. Hopefully, we’ve heard messages about this over the last annual Holy Days, about the Millennium and the Kingdom of God and all that they represent, the Holy Days that we celebrate. For a long time, we’ve called them a blueprint, because they are a blueprint. They are a drawing of what is happening, God’s master plan for all people.
And so the question really is, what is the Sabbath picture? What is the shadow? Well, it’s the shadow. What is the realization? Well, look at Hebrews 4. Hebrews is just packed with wealth and knowledge that if we didn’t have Hebrews, God would have had to reveal some very important things another way. Hebrews 3 and 4, the writer is putting all sorts of connections between Old Covenant and New Covenant aspects. And in Hebrews 4, let’s start in verse 1, I guess, some context, the writer is showing that, as God had promised a rest, He then led these people through the wilderness, but because of their unbelief, because of their disobedience, they did not enter that rest. And so, verse 1, “Therefore, since the promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.”
Let’s go down to verse 4, “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all of His works.’” And so the writer then shows a pointing back to creation. We covered that a little bit that the Sabbath brings to mind, it helps us remember that God is a Creator, that He created all in six days and then He took a break. And then the writer then pairs it with this, “And again, in this place, they shall not enter my rest.” So, we see a promise of a rest from someplace, and then, oh, they’re not going to enter that rest. And so that’s what’s being shown here in these Scriptures.
And then in verse 6, “Therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said, ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’” So, there is a time that is still coming where there is a much-promised rest for people. Verse 8, “For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would have not afterward spoken of another day.” There are many that believed the Promised Land would be that rest that they were promised. That they would get to live in a land that was overflowing with blessings, and they did, but it wasn’t that ultimate rest. Many in that first generation didn’t even make it because of their disobedience and their unfaithfulness. He started it with the next. But it says, “If Joshua had given them rest, then it would not have afterward spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest he has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”
And so we see here that then there is still a rest that remains. We see a wonderful indication of, “Well, we got to keep the Sabbath. That’s no doubt.” In fact, if you look at the Greek for all these rests here, when it gets down to, “There remains a rest,” that’s a unique one. I should have looked it up. I believe it’s only used one time in the New Testament. There is actually a secular writer that uses the same word. But other translations bring out the meaning very good. They say, “Therefore, there remains a Sabbath rest.” Because really, the writer is showing us, “Yeah, we keep the Sabbath. That is commanded, no doubt about it.” But it also points us to a future fulfillment of a spiritual rest to come. And we get to remember that it was a hearkening back to creation, that it’s a Festival of God, but also that it is a rest to come. It points to a future. It allows us to keep that future time in mind.
When we go to the Feast of Tabernacles, we love to think about the Millennium, and that is wonderful. But we have the opportunity every week to think of that future rest that’s coming. That rest in the Kingdom of God that all the people get to take part in, and then starting also in the Millennium with the firstfruits, with those that God is resurrecting to spiritual life then. We’ve traditionally seen a connection between the regular week, the 7-day week with the 7,000-year plan of God. We’ve traditionally seen a link between them from several scriptures. In 2 Peter, talking about God’s long-suffering, it says, “For a day is as a thousand years to God. And thousand years is as a day.” And we’ve seen these little tidbits of gold in the Bible and we thought, “Well, wait a second. There’s seven days. There’s about 6,000 years of chronology in the Bible. If you go off traditional Jewish calendar, there are, like, 5,800 and some. But there seems to be this correlation.
And then we have a thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ on this earth, a time of peace and prosperity and changing and separate from all other 6,000 years, or whatever is before. We see this correlation. We see that these 6,000 years, or these years before, are paralleled with a time of toil and labor and working. Just like when God worked for six days, we see that parallel existed. You don’t have to turn back there, but if you remember in Genesis, when Adam and Eve sinned, part of the curse was that they will work and they will toil and they’ll labor in the soil to produce fruit. And so you see that parallel through all of man’s history. We are working hard, and it is hard out there. And so we get to celebrate the Sabbath each and every week, and it’s a wonderful blessing pointing to a future time of rest in the Kingdom of God, but also starting at that thousand-year reign for the saints.
And so, today is a wonderful day. It’s a Sabbath day. It’s a special time, a Holy Day made by God. It’s great. The Sabbath and all the weekly Sabbaths are days set apart. They’re made special by God. They’re holy by God. And so, no matter what we are feeling, if we’re anxious or if we’re worried during our six-day labor, we have a time to just let that all go and get to really celebrate and have a wonderful time each Sabbath day. We have that opportunity. And so, let’s remember the Sabbath, let’s remember that it is special and it is set apart. It points us back to a wonderful Creator God, and it points to a wonderful future. And so, with that, I say, “Let’s remember the Sabbath, and let’s keep it holy.”