FIRST-TRUMP#top..........Sound the alarm in Zion..... ...........................


. A Priest sounds the alarm on a shofar




2On the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD. (Ex 35:)

Did I say that right? The Sabbath is a day of work? The Sabbath, as everyone knows, is a day of rest, not work. Why did I say that the Sabbath is a day of work? Can you guess why? I said it, because Jesus said it.

Are you confused? I suspect you are either confused, or think I'm out of my mind, which of course, I am.

1And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them. 2Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death. 3Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day. (Ex 35:)

There we have it, in Moses' own words. There will no work be done on the Sabbath. There won't even be a fire kindled, which to me means no cooking. Cold meals on the Sabbath.

How serious was God when He told the Hebrews not to work on the Sabbath? I suspect He was merely pressing a point when He said anyone who works will be stoned to death. A loving God wouldn't have someone stoned for doing something so trivial, surely not:

32And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. 33And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation. 34And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. 35And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. 36And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses. (Ex 15:)

I guess God means what He says. Here was a test case, a first offence if ever there was one. Did God give this man a warning ticket? No. It was the death penalty without an appeal to a higher court. We see this with Adam and Eve, the sentence of death given for a first offense. Scary, isn't it?

12And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. 14Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth ANY work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: WHOSOEVER doeth ANY work in the sabbath day, HE SHALL SURELY BE PUT TO DEATH. 16Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. 18And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Ex 31:)

Did you see that? God said any work will bring the death penalty upon a person's head, literally. No room for exception to be made for doing wonderful works such as healing the sick, raising the dead, and casting out demons. Is it any wonder the authorities were after Jesus to stop Him? They were just doing what God had commanded them to do, and God didn't leave any room for them whereby they might show some leniency toward their Messiah.

The Sabbath served other functions besides the obvious. The seventh day was to be a day of rest. This we know and understand. In fact far too many of the churches see only this aspect of the Sabbath, thinking it's a day for them to do their own thing and take a day off from work or school. As we will see, this is not the purpose of the Sabbath, not by a long stretch.

Another purpose of the Sabbath is as a sign. The Sabbath identified an Israelite. If someone, such as an enemy agent, wanted to identify a Jew, all he has to do is watch to see which day he, the "suspect," worships on.

10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. (Gen 17:)

The word used for "token" is the identical word God used for sign in the passage above. The words are interchangeable. Circumcision is a sign, or in other words, it is "Evidence." If a court wanted to insure that the person being investigated was in fact a jew, all they would have to do is conduct a nudist parade or a striptease.

1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4:)

We have three essential elements we're looking at in this passage. First we have a rest. The Sabbath is a day of rest. God rested on the Sabbath, and it's clear that He expects us (or at least the Jews of that time) to rest as well in observance of that day. The Sabbath is a day of refreshing as well as a sign. The question we might ask is: What does God mean by "rest"?

We see here that the Israelites didn't enter into the rest God has established for them (and we see by the reading of this passage, that we are included in those intended for that rest created from the foundation of the world). I would assume that the rest God had in mind for the Hebrews is the land of promise, Canaan land. But if that is the land He was referring to, why did He say they didn't enter in, because we read that they certainly did enter into Canaan, and lived there hundreds of years. Paul speaks of another rest that they didn't enter in, and that rest must be the rest set before us as well, since we, you and I as Gentiles, have not been promised a spot of soil in Israel.

Paul speaks of work, of labor. He seems to imply that if we expect to enter into God's rest, we must work toward that goal. Some believe that we are given rest in the here and now, and that we are not to work at all toward entering in. Paul said that if Jesus had, as believed by some, given us such a rest, then there wouldn't be talk of another rest.

And finally, we see where the Israelites did not enter into God's rest because of unbelief. What is belief? Belief is what will make the difference between being cast out and allowed to enter in to God's rest. Today, and for the past two thousand years it is, and has been, belief that causes a person to be a true Christian, and thereby saved. Our definition of belief then, I should think, would make a world of difference. If we accept a definition of belief that comes short of God's definition, then I suspect we'll be in a world of hurt, being one of those Paul refers to as falling short of God's rest.

The Israelites didn't enter in because they didn't believe. These people saw the miracles, they lived under the Shekinah glory, they were fed by God on a daily basis. They lived their life from the opening to the closing of their eyelids around Almighty God. Yet they didn't believe? We're told that by merely taking a bath and going to church once a week we give evidence of belief that will cause us to enter into God's rest. Am I missing something? Did God perhaps rewrite His dictionary do you think? Or is it possible that we've accepted our definition of belief from a dictionary unapproved by God?

Anyone who reads the Old Testament with even half an eye open has seen that God takes the Seventh Day seriously. He wiped out His people several times for not keeping the Sabbath. He pleaded with them through many different prophets, and in many different ways to keep His Sabbath. The Sabbath obviously means a lot to the Lord.

16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. (John 5:)

16Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. (John 9:)

Once we move beyond our condemnation of the Pharisees, we can well understand why the Pharisees and those in power were so concerned when one of their people, especially one who was drawing so much attention to himself, was violating the day that God had punished them severely for violating in the past. Jesus was not only violating that sacred day, but He was teaching others to do the same.

21Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; 22Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. (Jer 17:)

Jesus told a man He had healed to take up his bed and walk. Not only was he to carry his bed, a burden, but he was inside the gates of the city of Jerusalem when this occurred, a direct violation of the passage above. Walking might be ok, but carrying a burden on the Sabbath was on the other end of the spectrum of acceptability. Jesus had told a man to directly violate the very commandment God has specifically given the Jews. Is it any wonder the authorities were upset?

Jesus didn't keep the Sabbath. Jesus did much of His work, especially that which was written of Him, on that exempt day. Why did Jesus go against the Sabbath as He did? Do you wonder why? Some people did, and they asked Him outright.

16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day. 17But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. (John 5:)

Jesus worked because the Father works. On the Sabbath? But don't we read that God rested on the Sabbath? What's happening here? And if Jesus worked on the Sabbath, does that mean we're to do as He did, and work on the Sabbath as well?

I would say that Jesus is making it clear that we are to work on the Sabbath. Does that mean we're to ignore the rule to observe the Sabbath? Wouldn't your boss love for you to take such a philosophy? Then he wouldn't have to give you a day off or pay you overtime for working on your Sabbath.

What is it God wants us to learn from this confusing situation? He has His only begotten son do something He punished millions of His people for violating. I think it worth our while to try and unravel this confusing mystery, don't you think?

1And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6And they could not answer him again to these things. (Luke 14:)

Jesus is making a point here that I believe bears examination. What I'm about to say will seem as if I'm going against my point, and this regardless of what you think my point might be. Please bear with me to the end of this article before you stone me.

Jesus asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. He also said that in His opinion it was ok to pull an animal out of a ditch. We have two professions here that can not keep the Sabbath in its entirety.

I was a farm boy for a time. My job was to feed the chickens, pick up the eggs the hens had laid, feed and milk the cows twice a day, slop the pigs, bring in the water for drinking, bathing, and washing, and many other fun jobs that I would have loved to been able to avoid by claiming "it's the Sabbath, I don't work on the Sabbath."

The animals are not to work on the Sabbath, they get a day off. But a farm boy doesn't. Ol' Buttercup may not have to pull a plow that day, but if I don't milk her twice a day, she'll dry up and we won't have any milk to feed the family. That old pig might not have to root on the Sabbath, but she eats. And I'd better feed her. The same with the many hens and roosters. And the eggs had better be picked up when laid or they'll be broken the next day. and ol' Br'r fox he don't respect the Sabbath either. When he goes after those hens, I'd better be after him, or my granpa will sure be after me, in spite of the Sabbath.

During the wilderness journey, and in the Promised Land, that old cow may not have had to be milked in order to continue giving milk. I don't know. I know God handled the manna in such a way that it took care of itself on its day off. And God said that if they keep the Sabbath intended for the land, it would produce enough before the time, to take care of the time it was to lay fallow. But God didn't keep Betsy or Buttercup producing, and our field didn't produce extra every 6th year. So a farm boy had to make up the difference.

Mom wasn't able to rest from her job on the Sabbath. Baby continued to have to be changed, and to be fed, and to wake up several times in the night. When we were sick, she had to be there to take care of us, regardless how she felt or what day it was.

When I was in the Army I couldn't plead the Sabbath to keep me out of kitchen duty or hiking that forced 20 mile hike. The enemy didn't respect the Sabbath either, and bullets hurt just as much on the Sabbath as they do any other time. I doubt even David had a rest on the Sabbath when the Philistines decided to attack the city.

Doctors, firemen, policemen and many others, such as the man who turns the switch that brings electricity into your house has to work in order to keep this modern world going. When the baby gets colicky, we don't want to hear that the hospital is closed because it's the Sabbath. When our house is on fire, we won't accept "We'll take care of it first thing in the morning, it's the Sabbath you know." In spite of what we think of the Sabbath, we don't want everyone to see it in the same way as we might.

In regards to the Sabbath, I read a website that made a very good point. Whether we should or should not have to keep the Sabbath, and whether God wants us in this modern times to keep the Sabbath; it's important to realize that we should have a choice as to whether we keep the Sabbath, and which day we keep it. When the government, or the church makes it a law that a certain day be kept, and its against the law to keep another day, then we end up with a situation that Jesus lived under, and that those of the Inquisition lived through. Whereas the Jews made it a law that the Sabbath, meaning Saturday, must be kept or die (which for them was God's demands), the Christian church countered that with a law that says the Sabbath (meaning Saturday) cannot be kept. Either way, whatever a person does will be wrong. God want us to obey the law because of a heart-felt desire to please Him, not because of fear of punishment for disobeying. The law is there to show us what God wants. If we don't want to obey the law, fine. But don't pretend as if you do, rather go away and be part of the world. Do your own thing. If we do what's "right" because we have to, then we're merely cheating ourselves out of the pleasure we desire. Our "sacrifice" will have been for naught.

The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Let's keep these words of Jesus in mind as we read this study.

16And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. 18And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. (Acts 16:)

"My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."

I expected to easily find where the Apostles followed the example Jesus had set, that is, healing on the Sabbath. But God does not always lay things on the surface but makes us work for what we desire to learn of Him. By my stating this I realize I leave the door wide open to those who like to take a jot or tittle and create a fantasy out of it, and force that fantasy down our throat as proven, Biblical fact. I hope it doesn't sound as if that is what I am doing here. I've done an extensive search looking for a time the Apostles worked the work of God on the Sabbath, but this obscure passage is as close as I have been able to come to finding one. In the 13th verse it make it fairly clear that this demon was cast out on the Sabbath. If this be so, then it at least gives evidence that the Apostles were not adverse to healing on the Sabbath, but does not give proof that they made a habit of it either. If this passage is forced, or is not in fact a Sabbath occurrence, then at best it means I must leave this question blank.

Moving ahead, is there anything else in the Word that might tell us if we, like Jesus, are to work on the Sabbath?

10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (John 14:)

Now we find that not only does the Son of God work, thereby violating the Sabbath, but the Father Himself works on the Sabbath through the Son.

38Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. (Luke 3:)

2But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:)

4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Gal 3:)

14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Rom 8:)

A son of God does the work of God, or better said, God does His work through His sons. And if I read this correctly, those of us who are truly led by the Spirit of God, are sons of God.

Did I say that right? Am I off on another strange tangent delving into heresy? Let's see what the Bible has to say about this:

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

No, there it is, just as plain as day. Jesus is the only son of God. No, wait, Jesus is the only begotten son of God. Adam is a son of God. We find from the above passages that we are sons of God. So what's the conflict here? Are we sons or are we not sons? We refer to ourselves as children of God. How can we be a child of God if we're not sons and daughters of God? Of course some might say (and they do) that we're children by adoption. Does that mean then that God adopted Adam? Why would God have to adopt something He created and made?

Maybe the key to this mystery is in the unique word "begotten." Let's see what begotten means in the Greek, shall we?

Begotten means "only-born." Although we are born of God through the acceptance of the Holy Spirit, we were not born through natural childbirth as was Jesus. Luke makes it plain that Jesus was an exceptional birth. Nicodemus had difficulty dealing with this difference, wondering if he had to crawl back into his mother's womb in order to be born again. We must be born again. Jesus didn't have to be born again because He was born of God the first time. This makes Jesus the "Only begotten child of God, even though God has many children. Mary, those of us not Catholic, we understand to have had several children. All were begotten, but only her first was "begotten" of God.

34Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? 37If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. 38But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. (John 19:)

We read elsewhere that Jesus said He was an instrument through which God the Father does His work. Here we see this again, this time Jesus is not talking to His disciples, but to those who do not want to believe in Him.

Jesus said that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. What does this mean? We read this, and we accept it as true because Jesus said it. But what does it mean, and how does it effect us?

10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. (John 14:)

18I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, AND I IN YOU. 21He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14)

Now Jesus is talking to His disciples, telling them (and us through them) that God will be working through (and be in) them just as He is in Jesus. Again, this causes me to believe that Jesus is saying we are to do as He does, because we are to strive to be just like Him in every way. Do you read this differently? Chances are you do since it doesn't fit with many, if any of the doctrines of any of the churches. We like to set Jesus on the shelf as someone, or something unattainable by us. We like to think God wants us just the way we are, and to remain just as we are. Somehow I don't get that picture. It certainly is not how God deals with me. Perhaps He does with you. Who am I to say? One day we'll know, and then it will be too late for us to change our mind. For me I'd rather train for my mile run by running two or more miles a day rather than see if I can barely make the mile.

12Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and GREATER works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. (John 14:)

The works that Jesus did, those who follow Him will do also, and even more so. In the Book of Kings we read of Elisha who carried the mantel of Elijah. Elijah was an amazing man by anyone's standard. When Elijah was carried off into the great blue yonder he asked Elisha what he wanted most. Elisha, the brash youngster he was, asked for double the power given to Elijah. And wouldn't you know? He got what he asked for.

In the reading of the story of Elijah and Elisha we find a foreshadowing of the Church that Jesus has established. Jesus said those who believe on Him will do more than He did. Do we see this today? Do we see anyone walking on water or casting mountains into the sea? I don't, maybe you do.

We, you and I, live in the age of the Apostate church. When did the Apostate church begin?

29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:)

1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; (1Tim 4:)

1I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2Tim 4:)

16But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (Acts 2:)

1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Heb 1:)

18Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1John 2:)

Those of you who are waiting for the "Last days" need wait no longer. It has been the last days ever since Jesus was preaching the message of the Kingdom.

What causes the apostasy of the Church? Why are there false doctrines and misleading traditions with us? Aren't we living in the enlightened age where we're beyond listening to fables and fairy tales? Take a look at the book shelves, the TV show, the movies and see if it looks like we no longer fall for such stuff and nonsense. Indeed, we thrive on the untrue. We hate to hear the truth, because a lie pleases us so well. We don't want our spouse to tell us our faults, only how wonderful we are. We want this from our pastor as well. And because of our itchy ears, we get pastors and elders who will tell us, not what we need to hear, but what we want to hear.

Why are there so many violent and pornographic programs and games in this world today? Why are there so many illegal drugs, junk food, alcohol and cigarettes on the market today? It's because we, you and I, buy these things. Take a look at the books on your own shelf. Examine the programs that pass into your home unnoticed via the tube. Take a close look at the DVDs on your recreational center. If we didn't buy these things, they would stop making them. These things are produced because that's what people buy. Take away the consumer, and the manufacturer disappears. Take away the itching ears, and the wolves and the tares in the church desiring to scratch those ears, will pass into oblivion.

1Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

The Bible can be very confusing sometimes. Here we have a people doing just what God wants them to do, yet God seems upset with them. What's happening here?

3Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact ["Create a debt"] all your labours. 4Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

Again, it sounds like God is describing a good fast, that the people are doing what He told them to do. Is there something missing?

For one thing we see where these people, along with doing what's right, are doing it for the wrong reasons. They seem to be looking to be seen as special in God's eyes, and trying to create a debt that God has to pay because of their "sacrifice." Of course I'm speculating here, perhaps I've read this wrong, or there's more to it. But if we look at people today, and the reasons they fast or do what's right, we see much the same as what I've described. They go to church, they tithe, they do good things, and they expect to receive rewards for what they do. They don't do it because they want to please God, but to have their own desires satisfied.

Ezekiel was given a similar picture of the people, one that sounds great on the surface, but when examined it is found to be unsatisfactory:

30Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD. 31And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. (Ezek 33:)

People anxious to hear the Word of the Lord, but they only have itching ears, they have no desire to do what they're being told. Do you know anyone like that? Me too. I used to be one of them. Today we find it even easier to be a hearer of the Word and not a doer since so many of the churches preach that it's not necessary, and sometimes even undesirable to do what God tells us to do.

Back to Isaiah:.

6Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Does this sound familiar to you? Doesn't it remind you of the love thy neighbor message we hear in the New Testament? (See Mat 25:31-46) Yet here it is in the Old Testament. God has always wanted us to do for others and not for ourselves, to be His hands, His feet, and His mouth here on earth. It's not a new thing, but something from the beginning:

9Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger [Accusing and condemning others], and speaking vanity [Empty words]; 10And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.

When we do what we're told, when we consider others and their needs, then we're able to call upon God and He will hear us. James tells us that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much. The prayers of the wicked, we're told elsewhere, are not heard. If we want to receive, we have to give. That's God's way of dealing with us, and it's to be our way of dealing with one another, and with God. But it's not for the purpose of receiving that we are to give. That's a fallacy taught to us all too often, and that is being spoken against in this passage from Isaiah.

Notice the use of metaphors and similes throughout the Bible, especially in the last two chapters of Revelation. From this we can see that Isaiah is writing about the end times, that could well be obtained here and now if we only loved others as we do ourselves.

Notice the use of the term "Repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to be walked in." Doesn't this sound like a description of Jesus?

25And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. 26Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that the LORD bindeth up the breach of his people, and healeth the stroke of their wound. (Isaiah 30:)

Again we find the term "Repairer of the breach," and signs that obviously belong to the New World to come.

But here it's God being the One to repair the breach. Could it be that God is telling us, those of us who are doing for our neighbor as God would do for us, that we are the repairer of the breach, doing God's work as Jesus did?

We're looking at the Sabbath and what God expects of us on that day.

In the Old Testament we find that it is inescapable what God demands of us, and what will happen to us if we go against His will. In the New Testament it's not as clear what God wants from us. In fact, as we've been investigating, it appears that God might well want us to work on the Sabbath. But this couldn't be true. Could it?

11He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Mat 13:)

Some people aren't able to understand because God doesn't want them to understand. Some people don't understand because they have chosen to fill their ears with doctrinal earwax and they don't want to understand. How are we to know if we fall into one of these categories, or if our ears are open and we're given to understand the truth? No one is going to say they believe a lie or they don't understand. Those who are in the dark or going to have something to say that sounds right to them, they're not going to declare their ignorance. This goes for me just as much or more than it does for anybody. I'm going to have an opinion, and I'm going to be certain (in my own mind) that it's the right one, just as you will and do. But, are we right? How do we know if we're in the circle of those who hear the truth?

44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? (John 5:)

23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Mat 13:)

17This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (Eph 4:)

22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:)

We have a few reasons that a person might be kept in the dark as to the truth. For one thing a person has their heart darkened because of being alienated from the Spirit of God. And what can be more blind, and more dangerous, than a person who is not connected with God, but speaks for God as one who has all knowledge and understanding of God? There's a lot of those around, as can be seen by the number of denominations if no other way. Paul spoke much against these people in his time, and said they will increase after he was taken out of the way. Can you imagine the number of them that are filling the churches and the airways now?

Jesus told us that we will not find understanding or be able to believe if we seek honor (and I believe "understanding" might be included here) from one another. We have to receive God's understanding from God, and not from each other. We can learn from each other, but not be given understanding that belongs to God alone.

In various places Jesus told the Pharisees, thereby us, that their traditions were concealing the truth from themselves and from one another. He also warned His disciples to beware the doctrines of the Pharisees and others who believed they held the truth. This is good advice for us today as well. But our problem is, if we don't have the Holy Spirit (which everyone in the churches are told they do have), then their only option is to listen to someone else. Everyone is right in their own eyes, and therefore they are blind. If we believe we can see, then we're blind. If we know we're blind, then we can be made to see (John 9:40-41). Confusing, isn't it? Consider this comparison: If you (or I) were to have the doctor tell us that we must take a certain medicine, perform some ritual we dislike, or die; we're not likely to listen to him or do as he says if we're feeling good about ourself. But if we're sick, and we realize there's something seriously wrong with us, then we're likely to do anything and listen to anything in order to change our condition.

In order to understand and to know the truth we must do what we learn we're to do. Hearing only dulls the ears. Doing causes us to understand, and to have a platform upon which to place the next level of information we're to learn to understand. This is true of anything in this life. If we don't study and do what we're given to do in the first grade, we have no base upon which to place what is given in the second grade. Is there anyone who can argue with this logic? Doesn't it seem reasonable that this logic would apply to the Spiritual as well as the physical?

28And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?

There were several times, that has been recorded for us, where Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments are, and what the commandments consist of. These were excellent opportunities for Jesus to give us a lecture on the importance of the Sabbath. Yet nowhere in Scripture, or in the writings of those in support of the Sabbath, can I find where Jesus said anything about obeying the Sabbath. Whenever we hear about Jesus and the Sabbath, He is either teaching the people something they didn't want to hear on that day, or He was healing the sick and in other ways breaking the law of the Sabbath.

Here Jesus is asked point-blank what the greatest commandment is. What does Jesus say?

29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 30And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:)

Jesus clearly capsulated the Ten Commandments, that is loving God and our fellow man; but what happened to the Sabbath? Why didn't Jesus at least mention the Sabbath? Imagine how it would stop a lot of arguments and divisions in the churches if Jesus had only told us what His opinion is of the Sabbath at this time. I think of this:

34Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. (Mat 10:)

There are those who, logically, believe Jesus was talking about the strife that is caused by one person in a household becoming a Christian and the resistance he or she will experience. Of course this is true, but it is equally true that in the Church, the household of Christ, there is more contention and strife then there is anywhere else. There's more hatred directed at other Christians than there is by Christians toward the world of unbelievers.

Jesus could have relieved us of this conflict, He could have lifted His sword, if He had of only told us about how to treat the Sabbath. Of course He made it clear what He believes are the important commandments, and we ignore them saying that He did away with the Commandments instead of reinforced them. And we ignore or deny the many times He said that we must follow Him all the way if we expect to be with Him in Paradise. So it may have done no good for Him to specify what is valid as doctrine and what is not. Just imagine how much easier it would be on all of us if Jesus had said yay or nay to such things as His place in the Godhead; if there is a Trinity; if we must believe in His virgin birth to be saved; if dunking in water is demanded or if sprinkling will do; if baptizing babies will insure their admission into Heaven; if saints are able to intercede for us; and many other such matters that we of the Church use as battering rams against one another.

For some reason Jesus has been strangely silent on these matters, causing us to dig into mud holes and turn over leaves to find tiny pieces of evidence that we magnify into mountains of manure that we sit proudly upon as we sneer at others who don't join us on our "holier-than-thou" mount.

Could it by any chance be that Jesus intentionally left these areas a mystery in order to see what we will do with them? Can you perceive Him using just such a means to divide the sheep from the goats? What do we see of goats? Anyone who's been around goats know they love to butt their heads against one another, testing to see who is the stronger. When a goat is only weeks old it's trying out its butting abilities. Jesus said not to point the finger at anyone, not to judge others, to deal with our own log and not to be concerned with the mote in someone else's eye. What better way to test us than to leave certain areas unexplained in order to see how we'll handle them. Such a system might easily cause those who are not listening to Jesus to do exactly what Jesus spoke against, because their nature hasn't been changed from the Adamic to the Spiritual. Those of the flesh are going to use these areas of silence to cause themselves to feel good about themselves at the expense of those who disagree with them; and those of the Spirit will feel compassion instead of hatred toward what they consider their wayward brothers and sisters.

13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:)

Jesus was fulfilling this requirement. While violating what the leaders of the Church considered to be laws regarding the Sabbath, He was instead fulfilling them; whereas those His accusers were violating the Sabbath. God wants us to serve others on the Sabbath, not just sit around and twiddle our thumbs, or do our own thing, just because there's a law that seems to demand such behavior. Jesus was speaking God's Words, and doing God's work on the Sabbath. The Pharisees, in condemning Jesus for how He chose to celebrate the Sabbath, were doing the work of Satan, and speaking his words. Satan used God's Words against Jesus during His temptation, and against Adam and Eve during their temptation. And he, Satan, is using us against one another to do his work when we use what we suppose are God's Words against one another to condemn and to judge our brothers and sisters.

13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Mat 9:)

One of the greatest differences between Jesus and the Pharisees is in how the two treated others, especially the poor and the outcast. Whereas the Pharisees obeyed the law to the letter, which is something they held in great esteem, Jesus spent His time and efforts helping those who the Pharisees looked down on and castigated. Jesus sacrificed for the masses, up to and including the ultimate sacrifice. The Pharisees on the other hand wouldn't sacrifice a crust of bread to those they considered beneath them. We have the story of the rich man and Lazarus for an example of such an attitude. The rich man considered his tossing poor Lazarus a crust of bread that fell from his table a great thing in the eyes of God.

In the introductory passage we found examples of people who believed they were doing well because they were interested in hearing the Words of God, and going about performing the rituals called for by the law. Again we see this same behavior in the Pharisees. Jesus in many ways told them they were on the wrong track. Jesus said they were to have mercy above and beyond sacrifice. They were to obey the spirit of the law rather than concentrate on the letter of the law. He told them in Matthew 23:23 that they strained at the small things, the rituals and the traditions, and they ignored the big things like mercy and the love of God for His creation (my paraphrase and assumption). That is not to say that what the Pharisees were doing was not essential. For the most part, other than their doctrines and their traditions, they were to continue doing as they had been doing.

34A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:)

Jesus said that He was giving His disciples a "new commandment." As we can see, the commandment isn't new by any means because it's the same one that had been given to the Jews from the beginning, and that we read about earlier. It's even an essential part of the Ten commandments. Why then did Jesus call it a new commandment? Let's see if we can learn a little about this new commandment we're to follow:

7Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1John 2:)

5And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2John 5)

John, who happens to be the same one who wrote the first passages quoting Jesus, clarifies in two separate letters what he means by a "New Commandment." The commandment is new to those who had been ignoring it, but it is not new in the writings of God. It's been there from the beginning, but it wasn't being understood, because it wasn't being "walked in," that is, it wasn't being practiced.

Walking in a commandment is what makes the difference, not memorizing it and being able to spew it out when asked for in Sunday School.

Perhaps we might look at this new commandment as a refreshed view of an old commandment that had been misunderstood in the past. Does that sound about right to you?

By the way, have you noticed how many times the commandments, especially the commandments of Jesus, that we're told no longer exist, is spoken of as if they do exist? I wonder if that might be just one more of the swords Jesus brought with Him to leave with His Church to aid in the separation of the sheep from the goats.

"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)

Remember the signs given to the Jews and to Abraham? The sign of a Jew is that they worship on the Sabbath. The sign of a child of Abraham is that they are circumcised. This holds true of the Christian as well. Don't we read that it's the children of the promise who are the seed, the ones who will inherit the Kingdom? Aren't children of Abraham supposed to be circumcised? Are you circumcised? Is this a hook you don't like because it means a trip to the doctor for an operation you never counted on and was never told about?

Let's see if we can loosen that hook just a tad:

25For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Rom 2:)

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 (Gal 5:)

Does the hook feel a little better now? It's not all the way to discarded like many people think it is, but is bit easier to accept.

Whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Many people and churches use this passage to say that the law is done away with and that we're no longer to regard the law. In fact many churches use this to condemn those who desire to obey the law to an eternity in hell. Such a loving attitude. I wonder how they handle heat. I read this to say if we're counting on our own keeping of the law to justify us, as did the Jews, then we have fallen from grace since we're no longer counting on the shed blood of Jesus to justify us. I see nowhere in this passage, or in any other, where condemnation is due anyone who wishes to go beyond grace and also obey the laws of any land or religion, as long as they don't violate what God has told us to do. In fact I see where the Apostles continued to follow the rules of the law, even to Paul having Greeks circumcised so they could enter the Temple. I see where Paul said he will be as a Jew (and any other such) in order to win over the Jew. And I see that he will obey the law of abstaining from meat that is lawful to us as Christians, if his eating meat will offend anyone. If we're going to condemn those who obey the law, then we have to condemn the Apostles and Jesus as well, because they all obeyed the law as God gave it, not as it came from man.

We have to be careful in our condemnation for two particular reasons. One, all judgement belongs to God, not to us. And two, we will be judged according to how we judge others. Along with this, as we're seeing in this study: if we wish to obtain mercy, we had better be showing mercy to others. Judging and condemning, no matter for what reason, is a long way off from mercy.

We see that it's not the circumcision of the flesh that matters, that makes one a child of Abraham, therefore a child of the promise, but a circumcision of the heart. What does it mean to have one's heart circumcised? I suspect if taken literally we would have to make an appointment with a heart surgeon rather than a mohel (one who performs circumcision).

Like the laws that are no longer in stone for us of the New Testament, but rather one of the heart, so is circumcision of the heart, and not of the flesh. Both are now Spiritual matters rather than fleshly. Whereas under the Old Testament those of the flesh were to obey the law in fleshly, that is, in physical ways, we're to obey them in Spiritual ways. Jesus is an example of this very thing. His life, and His death are part of and fulfillment of the Spiritual as well as the Physical aspects of God's plan. Some of us will have to endure the physical as well as the Spiritual parts of the New Covenant, as did the Apostles and many of the martyrs of the past, and the present in other countries. But if we do, or if we don't have to follow Jesus to the cross, each and every one of us must obey the commandments written upon our hearts, and cut away the fleshly part of our heart. This is what God was wanting of His creation from the beginning, to cause us to be like Him, not like we want to be. Jesus not only gave us an example of this very thing, what God wants and demands, but He died in order to make it possible for us to do so. He didn't sacrifice His life so we can live a life of abandon. If you read your Bible is such a way that you find this concept presented, I suggest you either get new glasses or a new Bible.

51Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. (Acts 7:)

When we consider that Stephen is saying these things to a group of men who are aiming rocks at him, we can see that it is indeed a bold statement.

Uncircumcised of heart. Is this a new concept that was started at Pentecost? We might think so since it's clear the Jews were living under a very physical system and apparently unaware of the Spiritual nature of God and His commandments. Jesus pointed out that, even though God had given them a physical scenario under which to live, He was more concerned with a Spiritual aspect which none of them seem to be aware of.

Is there anything in the Old Testament that might point to the fact that God was dealing with the Spiritual as well as the physical nature of the law when He was dealing with the Jews?

25Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised; 26Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. (Jer 9:)

5And the LORD said unto me, Son of man, mark well, and behold with thine eyes, and hear with thine ears all that I say unto thee concerning all the ordinances of the house of the LORD, and all the laws thereof; and mark well the entering in of the house, with every going forth of the sanctuary. 6And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations. 8And ye have not kept the charge of mine holy things: but ye have set keepers of my charge in my sanctuary for yourselves. 9Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel. (Ezek 44:)

Notice that being a circumcised Jew was not enough to entitle them to enter the Lord's sanctuary. It takes being circumcised of the heart. This is from the beginning, not a New Testament commandment.

Breaking the law nullifies the covenant that God had made with the Jews. When we break our covenant, our promise to God (whether we know what that covenant consists of or not, which very few of us do), all bets are off. God is no longer held responsible for the promises either perceived or in fact regarding us. We think we can violate the covenant all we want, but God can't. We see that He has broken His covenant to the Jews many times and in many ways because of their disobedience, yet we don't feel that He is allowed to break His with us when we violate His will. In my opinion this is a very dangerous position to take.

What does it mean when God says the uncircumcised in heart are not to be brought into His sanctuary? We think of the Temple as His sanctuary. But only the priests, and a very limited number of them, were able to enter the Temple, and then only at a given time, and after thoroughly cleansing themselves through specific rituals. So it's unlikely that He meant the Temple. I suspect that in your church there is an area called the sanctuary. The word used here is one that means a "Chapel," a "sacred part." Does your church allow people uncircumcised of heart, whether baptized or not, into their sanctuary? Of course we have no way of knowing who is or who isn't truly circumcised in their heart, but neither do we have to advertise for such people, cater to their condition, and refrain from teaching them the importance of growing in the Lord. What do you suppose God will do to a church that allows the uncircumcised into their midst and tells them they don't have to change in order to be seen as special in the eyes of the Lord? Even more to the point concerning this Apostate age, what will God have to say to those churches that allow such people, regardless of their status in the church, to hold positions of authority in the church, and to preach from the pulpit? Consider what Jesus said to those cities ("Whoa unto") that didn't respond to Him and His message. How much more will those churches that pretend to be obedient, that preach under the guise of Christianity, be given harsh judgement?

13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Gal 5:)

We have been given liberty. The word used here for liberty means a prisoner or slave set free. We are given no restrictions whatever. We're given license to do whatever we want to do. If you want to sin, then go ahead and sin. But keep in mind that this is the same situation the Israelites were in when they were taken out of bondage. They were allowed to do whatever they wanted to do. If they wanted to run off and do their own thing, they were free to do it. Instead God made them an offer, and they chose to give up their liberty and become bondservants to God. As bondservants they were given some very tight regulations they must abide by, or suffer the consequences. If they fulfilled those requirements, then God would be their protector, their supplier of everything good. But if they failed, He would be their executioner.

When you and I were out in the world we were free, but we had sold ourselves to selfishness and to sin. When we became a Christian we accepted the "Deal" God had to offer, which includes the surrender of everything we are or that we own, including our family and our desires. We became bondservants to the Lord. I have little doubt but that you've heard your pastor say as much over the years, although the likelihood is that neither you nor he knew what he was saying.

You and I accepted the contract, even before being told that there is fine print that must be read. Did you read it? I didn't. I wasn't even told about it. But it's being pointed out to me now, and I'm finding that I'm very delinquent in my payments. Those old habits I had been making so much a part of me, I'm now finding very difficult to rid myself of.

How about you? Has the Holy Spirit been holding up a mirror in front of you, showing you where your dirty spots are? If He is, then I have little doubt but that you're as frustrated as I am, and trying to wash off those imbedded stains that even Lava soap won't budge.

If you haven't experienced the mirror, you probably will.... if you're lucky, and open to the experience.

We've been given liberty, now what are we going to do with that liberty?

Jesus told us, His disciples, that there are two commandments we're to observe, and those are to love God with all our soul, heart and mind; and to love our neighbor as our self. In the above verses Paul reiterates these words, saying that in them all the laws are fulfilled.

But what about the Sabbath? Why doesn't anyone tell us what to do on the Sabbath? It's obvious that God thinks the Sabbath is important, so why doesn't He say what we're supposed to do on the Sabbath?

Or did He?

8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (Rom 13:)

12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. (James 2:)

How we handle our liberty determines our judgement. If we do what God wants of us, then we will have proven ourselves worthy of that liberty, that "grace," we've been given. If we don't prove ourselves worthy, then what? What happened to the Israelites in the wilderness? That might give us a clue as to what will happen to us if we abuse our liberty and spend it on ourselves rather than on our fellow man.

6For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:)

Jesus spent His ministerial life going about the land doing things for other people. This He did on the Sabbath as well as on every other day. His life was not His own, but He had turned it over to the Father. Supposedly we have done the same. What Jesus did, we're to do. God requires mercy and not sacrifice. The quote above is not that of Jesus, though the words are identical, but they are what a prophet of God said even before the birth of Jesus. They are foundational. They demonstrate the purpose of God from the beginning.

6By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. (Prov 16:)

By mercy we are purged of iniquity. That's how I read this verse. In another place we're told that he which converts a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death, and will hide a multitude of sins (James 5:20). I take this to mean that if I show a person how they are sinning, and that person stops sinning, that it's my sins that will be covered. That'll take a lot of covering, and I'll need to convert a lot of people in order to have them covered. I hope you're listening, and that if your sins are corrected, that your conversion will be added to my account.

13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Eccl 12:)

Fear God, and keep His commandments. And what commandments are we to keep? We've been seeing that we're to love God and our fellow man. In these all the other commandments are fulfilled. Have I missed anything?

6Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:)

We have been shown what God desires of us. When and where are we shown these things?

Our question for the day is, what happened to the Sabbath? We find that God is mysteriously silent about what He expects of us on His holy day. And at the same time we see how He, through His Son, and apparently through us, violates His will for us on His Sabbath. Are we to learn anything from this? Can we discover God's will by observing Jesus on the Sabbath?

Perhaps we can.

What was it Jesus did on the Sabbath that caused Him to be in violation? Was He watching TV, or picking up sticks, or out milking a camel? No, He wasn't doing anything like this. He was out doing things for people, helping them in ways they couldn't help themselves. He was blessing the people, telling them about the Father and about the Kingdom of Heaven. He was letting them know that God loves them, and that He wants the best for them. He was demonstrating who God is through His actions and His Words. In other words, He was being God in their midst.

And isn't that what we're to be?

7Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. 8Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:)

"If there be any other commandment." If there was any place in the Bible that we would read about the Sabbath and what God desires of us, it is here. All the commandments designed for our age is expressed here. As far as I can see, there is no other.

We are given liberty. With that liberty we can celebrate the Sabbath, or we can ignore it. It's up to each and every one of us what we choose to do. There's no room left to condemn those who worship on the Sabbath, nor is there room to condemn those who don't worship oh the Sabbath. The choice is ours.

For myself, I choose to keep the Sabbath, and that to the letter, short of one. I don't cook on the Sabbath, I don't do my own thing on the Sabbath, I don't turn on the computer, other than the one I write and study on (it's not connected to the Internet other than for my mail and the weather, which I don't access on the Sabbath). All I do is spend time with the Lord, which is something I want to do anyway, and try to do every other day if I am able.

One letter of the Sabbath I don't keep, and I'm sure there are those ready and willing to condemn me for this lack. I keep the Sabbath from Saturday night to Sunday night, rather than on the traditional Sabbath.

If I don't have to keep the Sabbath, and if most of my church members (as well as those who demand the traditional day be kept), will condemn me for doing so, then why do I do it?

Because of this:

13If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: 14Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:)

I'm not looking for the rewards, and I doubt I will receive any for keeping the Sabbath. The Lord has taken very good care of me the 70 years before I started keeping the Sabbath, and I'm sure He would continue to do so if I chose not to keep it.

I want to delight the Lord. I want to spend time with Him without distractions, to learn of His will for us.

I want t learn to do His pleasure and not my own. I want to learn to speak His words and not my own. If I saw someone in need, I'd violate the Sabbath. It isn't a law to me, but a pleasure.

This I believe is what Jesus was doing, how He chose to observe the Sabbath. He didn't do His own thing, seeking His own pleasure, but as in every other day, He was seeking to do the Father's will, and speaking His words.

"The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).

One final note, consider this:

8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)

There's one principle law we must obey, or we're in violation of all the laws God has written on our heart. It's the nature of man, especially those in the churches, to concentrate on one set of rules to the exclusion of all others. And we judge others by what we've chosen to be right and proper. We see by the above passage that this doesn't work. In so doing we place ourselves in jeopardy before the Lord.

Our responsibility is not to place stumblingblocks of doctrine before the feet of others not of our persuasion, but to serve the Lord, and to make ourselves pure as possible in eyes of God.




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