When was the last time you took a break? When was the last time you purposely took time to rest? Do you do it weekly? If you don’t, why not? What is holding you back? What is keeping you from it?
This morning’s reading starts on a conversation about the Sabbath and so I figured I would pull up some definitions and then follow-up looking to see what Jesus says about it.
- it seems to have derived from the verb sabat, meaning to stop, to cease, or to keep
- a weekly day of rest or time of worship
- first mentioned in the Genesis creation narrative, where the seventh day is set aside as a day of rest and made holy by God (Gen. 2:2-3). Observation and remembrance of Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments (the fourth in the original Jewish, the Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestant traditions, the third in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions).
- the Sabbath is one of the most important commandments of the ten. It is a part of those commandments related to our relationship with and our worship of God. It is also the commandment chosen to be the “sign” of the entire Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 31:13). A violation of this commandment is to result in the death penalty (Exodus 31:14).
- The day which God appointed to be observed by the Jews as a day of rest from all secular labor or employments, and to be kept holy and consecrated to his service and worship. This was originally the seventh day of the week, the day on which God rested from the work of creation; and this day is still observed by the Jews and some christians, as the sabbath. But the christian church very early begun and still continue to observe the first day of the week, in commemoration of the resurrection of Christ on that day, by which the work of redemption was completed. Hence it is often called the Lords day. The heathen nations in the north of Europe dedicated this day to the sun, and hence their christian descendants continue to call the day Sunday. But in the United States, christians have to a great extent discarded the heathen name, and adopted the Jewish name Sabbath.
- Intermission of pain or sorrow; time of rest.
- The sabbatical year among the Israelites. Lev. 25.
This morning’s reading begins with Jesus speaking about the Sabbath. We need the realize and remember why God created the Sabbath, it wasn’t for us to put up a bunch of our rules about how it should be, but it was a day set apart by God for His purpose. Let’s take a look:
1 Not long afterward Jesus was walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, so they began to pick heads of wheat and eat the grain. 2When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Jesus, “Look, it is against our Law for your disciples to do this on the Sabbath!”
3 Jesus answered, “Have you never read what David did that time when he and his men were hungry? 4 He went into the house of God, and he and his men ate the bread offered to God, even though it was against the Law for them to eat it—only the priests were allowed to eat that bread. 5 Or have you not read in the Law of Moses that every Sabbath the priests in the Temple actually break the Sabbath law, yet they are not guilty? 6I tell you that there is something here greater than the Temple. 7 The scripture says, ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ If you really knew what this means, you would not condemn people who are not guilty; 8for the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
— from Matthew 12 (GNT)
Is it better to help someone on the Sabbath or to let them die or suffer? Yes we need our rest, but it should stop us from being good people and helping out those in need. Today’s Word continues with:
9Jesus left that place and went to a synagogue, 10where there was a man who had a paralyzed hand. Some people were there who wanted to accuse Jesus of doing wrong, so they asked him, “Is it against our Law to heal on the Sabbath?”
11 Jesus answered, “What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12And a human being is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath.” 13Then he said to the man with the paralyzed hand, “Stretch out your hand.”
He stretched it out, and it became well again, just like the other one. 14Then the Pharisees left and made plans to kill Jesus.
— from Matthew 12 (GNT)
Don’t be so crazy that you miss out being a blessing to others. Don’t add to what God’s Word requires or asks. Don’t make assumptions that can derail or complicate things.
So let’s just put our hope and trust in Jesus and do what He says and does and allow God to be exalted and praised in and through that:
15When Jesus heard about the plot against him, he went away from that place; and large crowds followed him. He healed all the sick 16and gave them orders not to tell others about him. 17He did this so as to make come true what God had said through the prophet Isaiah:
18 “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
the one I love, and with whom I am pleased.
I will send my Spirit upon him,
and he will announce my judgment to the nations.
19He will not argue or shout,
or make loud speeches in the streets.
20He will not break off a bent reed,
nor put out a flickering lamp.
He will persist until he causes justice to triumph,
21and on him all peoples will put their hope.”
— Matthew 12 (GNT)
Today’s reading keeps in this theme as we read from the book of Acts what Paul does on the Sabbath…
1Paul and Silas traveled on through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. 2According to his usual habit Paul went to the synagogue. There during three Sabbaths he held discussions with the people, quoting 3and explaining the Scriptures, and proving from them that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from death. “This Jesus whom I announce to you,” Paul said, “is the Messiah.” 4Some of them were convinced and joined Paul and Silas; so did many of the leading women and a large group of Greeks who worshiped God.
5But some Jews were jealous and gathered worthless loafers from the streets and formed a mob. They set the whole city in an uproar and attacked the home of a man named Jason, in an attempt to find Paul and Silas and bring them out to the people. 6But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city authorities and shouted, “These men have caused trouble everywhere! Now they have come to our city, 7and Jason has kept them in his house. They are all breaking the laws of the Emperor, saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus.” 8With these words they threw the crowd and the city authorities in an uproar. 9The authorities made Jason and the others pay the required amount of money to be released, and then let them go.
— from Acts 17 (GNT)
It’s interesting people’s perspective may change, but God’s view never does. Paul continues to share the truth but he continues to be pursued…
10As soon as night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue. 11The people there were more open-minded than the people in Thessalonica. They listened to the message with great eagerness, and every day they studied the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was really true. 12Many of them believed; and many Greek women of high social standing and many Greek men also believed. 13But when the Jews in Thessalonica heard that Paul had preached the word of God in Berea also, they came there and started exciting and stirring up the mobs. 14At once the believers sent Paul away to the coast; but both Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea. 15The men who were taking Paul went with him as far as Athens and then returned to Berea with instructions from Paul that Silas and Timothy should join him as soon as possible.
— from Acts 17 (GNT)
So today as we consider God’s plan and purpose for this day, let’s turn to God giving Him all the praise. Let’s not be self-centered, but rather let’s be Christ-centered. Keep Him in the middle of our relationships, our activities, our plans, our focus so that in all we do we glorify God today!
1The Lord is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The Lord protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.
2When evil people attack me and try to kill me, they stumble and fall.
3Even if a whole army surrounds me, I will not be afraid; even if enemies attack me, I will still trust God
4I have asked the Lord for one thing; one thing only do I want: to live in the Lord‘s house all my life, to marvel there at his goodness, and to ask for his guidance.
5In times of trouble he will shelter me; he will keep me safe in his Temple and make me secure on a high rock.
6So I will triumph over my enemies around me. With shouts of joy I will offer sacrifices in his Temple; I will sing, I will praise the Lord.
7Hear me, Lord, when I call to you! Be merciful and answer me!
8When you said, “Come worship me,” I answered, “I will come, Lord.”
9Don’t hide yourself from me! Don’t be angry with me; don’t turn your servant away. You have been my help; don’t leave me, don’t abandon me, O God, my savior.
10My father and mother may abandon me, but the Lord will take care of me.
11Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and lead me along a safe path, because I have many enemies.
12Don’t abandon me to my enemies, who attack me with lies and threats.
13I know that I will live to see the Lord‘s goodness in this present life.
14Trust in the Lord. Have faith, do not despair. Trust in the Lord.
— from Psalm 27 (GNT)
Put your hope and trust in God! When He brings you to it, He will bring you through it! As the story of Exodus continues, we see God’s power of persuasion and how for His purpose and glorification, miracles happen.
1Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go and see the king. I have made him and his officials stubborn, in order that I may perform these miracles among them 2and in order that you may be able to tell your children and grandchildren how I made fools of the Egyptians when I performed the miracles. All of you will know that I am the Lord.”
3So Moses and Aaron went to the king and said to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says, ‘How much longer will you refuse to submit to me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4If you keep on refusing, then I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5There will be so many that they will completely cover the ground. They will eat everything that the hail did not destroy, even the trees that are left. 6They will fill your palaces and the houses of all your officials and all your people. They will be worse than anything your ancestors ever saw.’” Then Moses turned and left.
7The king’s officials said to him, “How long is this man going to give us trouble? Let the Israelite men go, so that they can worship the Lord their God. Don’t you realize that Egypt is ruined?”
8So Moses and Aaron were brought back to the king, and he said to them, “You may go and worship the Lord your God. But exactly who will go?”
9Moses answered, “We will all go, including our children and our old people. We will take our sons and daughters, our sheep and goats, and our cattle, because we must hold a festival to honor the Lord.”
10The king said, “I swear by the Lord that I will never let you take your women and children! It is clear that you are plotting to revolt. 11No! Only the men may go and worship the Lord if that is what you want.” With that, Moses and Aaron were driven out of the king’s presence.
12Then the Lord said to Moses, “Raise your hand over the land of Egypt to bring the locusts. They will come and eat everything that grows, everything that has survived the hail.” 13So Moses raised his stick, and the Lord caused a wind from the east to blow on the land all that day and all that night. By morning it had brought the locusts. 14 They came in swarms and settled over the whole country. It was the largest swarm of locusts that had ever been seen or that ever would be seen again. 15They covered the ground until it was black with them; they ate everything that the hail had left, including all the fruit on the trees. Not a green thing was left on any tree or plant in all the land of Egypt.
16Then the king hurriedly called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17Now forgive my sin this one time and pray to the Lord your God to take away this fatal punishment from me.” 18Moses left the king and prayed to the Lord. 19And the Lord changed the east wind into a very strong west wind, which picked up the locusts and blew them into the Gulf of Suez. Not one locust was left in all of Egypt. 20But the Lord made the king stubborn, and he did not let the Israelites go.
21 The Lord then said to Moses, “Raise your hand toward the sky, and a darkness thick enough to be felt will cover the land of Egypt.” 22 Moses raised his hand toward the sky, and there was total darkness throughout Egypt for three days. 23The Egyptians could not see each other, and no one left his house during that time. But the Israelites had light where they were living.
24The king called Moses and said, “You may go and worship the Lord; even your women and children may go with you. But your sheep, goats, and cattle must stay here.”
25Moses answered, “Then you would have to provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to offer to the Lord our God. 26No, we will take our animals with us; not one will be left behind. We ourselves must select the animals with which to worship the Lord our God. And until we get there, we will not know what animals to sacrifice to him.”
27The Lord made the king stubborn, and he would not let them go. 28He said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Don’t let me ever see you again! On the day I do, you will die!”
29“You are right,” Moses answered. “You will never see me again.”
— from Exodus 10 (GNT)
Moses Announces the Death of the First-Born
1Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will send only one more punishment on the king of Egypt and his people. After that he will let you leave. In fact, he will drive all of you out of here. 2Now speak to the people of Israel and tell all of them to ask their neighbors for gold and silver jewelry.” 3The Lord made the Egyptians respect the Israelites. Indeed, the officials and all the people considered Moses to be a very great man.
4Moses then said to the king, “The Lord says, ‘At about midnight I will go through Egypt, 5and every first-born son in Egypt will die, from the king’s son, who is heir to the throne, to the son of the slave woman who grinds grain. The first-born of all the cattle will die also. 6There will be loud crying all over Egypt, such as there has never been before or ever will be again. 7But not even a dog will bark at the Israelites or their animals. Then you will know that I, the Lord, make a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.’” 8Moses concluded by saying, “All your officials will come to me and bow down before me, and they will beg me to take all my people and go away. After that, I will leave.” Then in great anger Moses left the king.
9The Lord had said to Moses, “The king will continue to refuse to listen to you, in order that I may do more of my miracles in Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron performed all these miracles before the king, but the Lord made him stubborn, and he would not let the Israelites leave his country.
— from Exodus 11 (GNT)
1 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in Egypt: 2“This month is to be the first month of the year for you. 3Give these instructions to the whole community of Israel: On the tenth day of this month each man must choose either a lamb or a young goat for his household. 4If his family is too small to eat a whole animal, he and his next-door neighbor may share an animal, in proportion to the number of people and the amount that each person can eat. 5You may choose either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a one-year-old male without any defects. 6Then, on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, the whole community of Israel will kill the animals. 7The people are to take some of the blood and put it on the doorposts and above the doors of the houses in which the animals are to be eaten. 8That night the meat is to be roasted, and eaten with bitter herbs and with bread made without yeast. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled, but eat it roasted whole, including the head, the legs, and the internal organs. 10You must not leave any of it until morning; if any is left over, it must be burned. 11You are to eat it quickly, for you are to be dressed for travel, with your sandals on your feet and your walking stick in your hand. It is the Passover Festival to honor me, the Lord.
12“On that night I will go through the land of Egypt, killing every first-born male, both human and animal, and punishing all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13The blood on the doorposts will be a sign to mark the houses in which you live. When I see the blood, I will pass over you and will not harm you when I punish the Egyptians. 14 You must celebrate this day as a religious festival to remind you of what I, the Lord, have done. Celebrate it for all time to come.”
The Festival of Unleavened Bread
15The Lord said, “For seven days you must not eat any bread made with yeast—eat only unleavened bread. On the first day you are to get rid of all the yeast in your houses, for if anyone during those seven days eats bread made with yeast, he shall no longer be considered one of my people. 16On the first day and again on the seventh day you are to meet for worship. No work is to be done on those days, but you may prepare food. 17Keep this festival, because it was on this day that I brought your tribes out of Egypt. For all time to come you must celebrate this day as a festival. 18From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month to the evening of the twenty-first day, you must not eat any bread made with yeast. 19-20For seven days no yeast must be found in your houses, for if anyone, native-born or foreign, eats bread made with yeast, he shall no longer be considered one of my people.”
The First Passover
21Moses called for all the leaders of Israel and said to them, “Each of you is to choose a lamb or a young goat and kill it, so that your families can celebrate Passover. 22Take a sprig of hyssop, dip it in the bowl containing the animal’s blood, and wipe the blood on the doorposts and the beam above the door of your house. Not one of you is to leave the house until morning. 23 When the Lord goes through Egypt to kill the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the beams and the doorposts and will not let the Angel of Death enter your houses and kill you. 24You and your children must obey these rules forever. 25When you enter the land that the Lord has promised to give you, you must perform this ritual. 26When your children ask you, ‘What does this ritual mean?’ 27you will answer, ‘It is the sacrifice of Passover to honor the Lord, because he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. He killed the Egyptians, but spared us.’”
The Israelites knelt down and worshiped. 28Then they went and did what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.
The Death of the First-Born
29 At midnight the Lord killed all the first-born sons in Egypt, from the king’s son, who was heir to the throne, to the son of the prisoner in the dungeon; all the first-born of the animals were also killed. 30That night, the king, his officials, and all the other Egyptians were awakened. There was loud crying throughout Egypt, because there was not one home in which there was not a dead son. 31That same night the king sent for Moses and Aaron and said, “Get out, you and your Israelites! Leave my country; go and worship the Lord, as you asked. 32Take your sheep, goats, and cattle, and leave. Also pray for a blessing on me.”
33The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country; they said, “We will all be dead if you don’t leave.” 34So the people filled their baking pans with unleavened dough, wrapped them in clothing, and carried them on their shoulders. 35 The Israelites had done as Moses had said, and had asked the Egyptians for gold and silver jewelry and for clothes. 36The Lord made the Egyptians respect the people and give them what they asked for. In this way the Israelites carried away the wealth of the Egyptians.
The Israelites Leave Egypt
37The Israelites set out on foot from Rameses for Sukkoth. There were about 600,000 men, not counting women and children. 38A large number of other people and many sheep, goats, and cattle also went with them. 39They baked unleavened bread from the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for they had been driven out of Egypt so suddenly that they did not have time to get their food ready or to prepare leavened dough.
40 The Israelites had lived in Egypt for 430 years. 41On the day the 430 years ended, all the tribes of the Lord‘s people left Egypt. 42It was a night when the Lord kept watch to bring them out of Egypt; this same night is dedicated to the Lord for all time to come as a night when the Israelites must keep watch.
Regulations about Passover
43The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the Passover regulations: No foreigner shall eat the Passover meal, 44but any slave that you have bought may eat it if you circumcise him first. 45No temporary resident or hired worker may eat it. 46 The whole meal must be eaten in the house in which it was prepared; it must not be taken outside. And do not break any of the animal’s bones. 47The whole community of Israel must celebrate this festival, 48but no uncircumcised man may eat it. If a foreigner has settled among you and wants to celebrate Passover to honor the Lord, you must first circumcise all the males of his household. He is then to be treated like a native-born Israelite and may join in the festival. 49The same regulations apply to native-born Israelites and to foreigners who settle among you.” 50All the Israelites obeyed and did what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51On that day the Lord brought the Israelite tribes out of Egypt.
— from Exodus 12 (GNT)
What will it take for God to get your attention? What would it take for Him to get you to do what He is asking? Today is a new day and a day where you can choose to follow after Him and His ways. Choose wisely!