PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 20:14; Word # 7 Covenant Fidelity

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110828_exodus20_14.mp3

08/28 Exodus 20:14 Word #7 Covenant Fidelity

In Exodus 20, God is outlining the requirements of his covenant agreement with his people.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses refers to the ten commandments as God’s covenant with his people.

Deuteronomy 4:13 And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.

A covenant is a formal and binding agreement or contract between two parties. It was often a contract between unequal parties, such as a conquering king and the people that now came under his rule. The king would agree to provide peace and protection in exchange for the payment of tribute and obedience to his laws from the people who were now under his rule. This is the type of covenant or contract we see in Exodus 20. God has set his people free. They have now become his subjects. He is giving himself to be their God, and declaring his expectations of them as he takes them to be his people.

Back in Exodus 6, while his people were still in bondage, he made this promise:

Exodus 6:7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

After bringing them out of slavery, and taking his people to himself, he says:

Exodus 19:4 You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…

God is initiating an exclusive intimate covenant relationship with his people. And in chapter 20 he gives himself to them in covenant relationship:

Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

And he lays out for them the terms of the agreement: you must worship me exclusively; you must not worship a misrepresentation of me; you must carry my name with proper honor; you must spend time enjoying your relationship with me. You must honor those I have placed in authority over you; you must value the life that I created, the life that bears my image.

And in this context of covenant comes the seventh command:

Exodus 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Adultery is the breaking of another binding covenant agreement, the covenant between a man and his wife.

Malachi refers to marriage as a covenant commitment. The people wondered why God did not seem to pay attention to their worship. Malachi says:

Malachi 2:13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who hates and divorces, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Malachi points the people to their unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant as a reason for God’s ignoring their worship. When a marriage covenant is solemnized, witnesses sign their names. God says “I was witness between you. I made the two one. I blessed you with a portion of my Spirit in your union.” Honor God who makes the two one. Guard yourselves in your spirit. Don’t you know your attitude toward your spouse will affect your children’s relationship to me? Don’t be faithless to your covenant relationship.

The seventh commandment is a command to be faithful to your marriage covenant, in the context of a covenant to be faithful to your God.

To get the background for this covenant of marriage, we need to go back to the creation account in the beginning of Genesis. Genesis 1 gives the broad outline of creation events, and chapter 2 zooms in on the details of the creation of man and woman in relationship:

Genesis 2:18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.

21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

God instituted the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. God brought the woman and presented her to the man. The final statement is designed to include all future marriages, because Adam and Eve did not have father and mother to leave. “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” We learned in commandment 5 that even adult children are to continue to honor and care for their mother and father into old age, and yet this honoring is not incompatible with leaving father and mother and holding fast to a wife. There is something supernatural, something mystical that happens when God makes two people one. Certainly there is a physical element to it, as even the text in Genesis says “…they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Paul points to God’s design of legitimate gratification of sexual desire within the covenant relationship of marriage.

1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self–control.

This is the bible saying that a man an his wife should enjoy lots of good sex! God commands it! But there is a deeper spiritual reality to this one-flesh union that Malachi pointed to, and Jesus points us to when he tells us that God is the one who joins the two in marriage:

Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Jesus was talking about the separation that happens through divorce and remarriage which, like adultery, violates the marriage covenant to hold fast and be faithful to the one partner until death. The Pharisees were asking Jesus if it was OK to divorce for any reason, and Jesus points them back to God’s part in the covenant of marriage, joining the two into one, and says that man must not divide what God has united.

Paul points to this supernatural one-flesh unity as a the reason why it is wrong for the Christian to engage in any form of sexual immorality.

1 Corinthians 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

God owns our bodies. He has the right to tell us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. He tells us we must flee from sexual immorality. Sexual intimacy is to be experienced only, exclusively within the covenant commitment of marriage.

Jesus drives this even deeper. Here are his comments on the seventh command:

Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

God is not only concerned with what we do with our bodies, but what we do with our eyes and our hands and our minds and our hearts.

So what’s the big deal? Why is God so prudish and restrictive about sex? Why does he come in with all these “Thou shalt not” commands that restrict our freedom to enjoy pleasure in this life?

The big deal is that our God is a covenant-keeping God, and he designed marriage and he invented sex to be a picture of our covenant intimacy with him. When we violate the covenant of marriage, we distort the picture and misrepresent him. Paul points us to this picture of how marriage reflects God’s covenant with his people in Ephesians 5. I want to start in verse 1 to get the context.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not associate with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light

He goes on to contrast a life lived to please the Lord with the unfruitful works of darkness. He picks up with some positive commands in verse 18:

Ephesians 5:18 …but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The marriage covenant is meant to be a beautiful picture of God’s intimate love relationship with his people. This passage points out several specific ways how the marriage relationship is to image our relationship with God, hinted at by the language ‘as’ or ‘even as’ or ‘just as’. The wife is to submit to her husband as a reflection of how the church submits to the authority of Jesus. The husband is to sacrificially love his wife as a picture of how Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. The husband is to nourish and cherish his wife as a pointer to how Jesus cares for us and nurtures us and passionately pursues our growth in holiness.

This is why adultery is such a big deal. It defaces and distorts the picture God intended marriage to be of his unwavering covenant faithfulness to us, and our exclusive intimacy with him. God gave the gift of sex for our pleasure, but also to point to the even greater pleasures that come from knowing him and being in relationship with him.

In Jeremiah, God speaks of his covenant with his people in terms of the marriage relationship.

Jeremiah 31:32 …the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.

Throughout the bible God engages us viscerally with the powerful image of an unfaithful adulterous wife to help us empathize with his emotions when we are unfaithful to him and seek satisfaction in other places.

James says:

James 4:4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

Adultery is disloyalty to our covenant vows of faithfulness to our spouse. Idolatry is adulterous disloyalty to our covenant to be loyal exclusively to our God who loves us with unfathomable love. God takes this issue very seriously. This is an issue that will exclude you from the presence of God. Paul says

1 Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

And that’s a terrifying statement, because when we understand Jesus’ perfect standard of righteousness that extends even to the thoughts and intents of the heart, we all fall miserably short. Many will struggle with guilt over past failures. But remember, the law was never given as a ladder to climb to show God how righteous we are. God gave us the law as a mirror to show how desperately we fall short. And there is great hope for lawbreakers like us! Paul continues:

1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, even sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers can be washed in the blood of Christ, transformed from the inside out by the Spirit of God, and clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ. Jesus bore even those sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1Pet.2:24). We can be healed and set free to glorify God with our bodies!

1Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 28, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:13 Word #6 – Value Life

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110821_exodus20_13.mp3

08/21 Exodus 20:13 Word #6 Value Life

We are studying the law of God, his ten words to his people whom he rescued out of slavery and into his service. This is what life lived in relationship with God should look like. He starts with the vertical, our relationship with God, and then moves to the horizontal, how life is to be lived in community with other people under God. We are to worship only the correct God; we are to worship the correct God in the correct way; we are to treat his name with great honor; we are to give him priority in our use of the time that he has given us. In relation to others, we are to give honor to whom honor is due. And then comes #6:

Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder.

God demands that we honor and value life that he created. To understand this properly, we need to understand who we are and to whom belongs the authority over life and death, and we need to clarify what this command means and what it doesn’t mean. Then we will look to Jesus, who takes this deeper, to the heart level.

Man in the Image of God

This is not the first time God has prohibited murder in the bible. When one of the children born to our fallen first parents killed his brother, the Lord confronted him and cursed him. God said to Noah:

Genesis 9:5 And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

This, by the way, is after God gave to man all living things for food. God gave us the right to kill and eat plants and animals, but man is in a different category of created being. If an animal kills a man, that animal is to be put to death. If a man kills another man, that man is to be put to death. And God gives us his reason for the distinct value of human life: “for God made man in his own image.” Back in Genesis, we are told that God created man in his image and likeness to have dominion over the rest of creation under him. Man, as image-bearer of God, was created to uniquely reflect God’s character and nature as ruler, so to kill a person is to deface God’s image. Murder is an attack on God’s authority. We have seen, that to honor mom and dad is to honor God who established their authority, and to value human life is to hold sacred what bears God’s image. Even the horizontal commandments of how we deal with other people have at their root a God-centered motive.

God’s Rights over Life

God, as Creator, has rights over his creation.

Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.

God as Creator is the life-giver. God gives life, and God sustains life. And God alone has the right to take life away. Job, at the loss of the lives of his children, says:

Job 1:21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

God as Creator and life-giver also has the right to take life away. God himself says:

Deuteronomy 32:39 “‘See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.

God as Creator has absolute rights that we as his creation do not have. We are all sinners, and the wages of sin is death, so any of us who are alive are experiencing God’s patience and mercy – and praise God, he is abundantly patient and merciful! We have not gotten what we deserve.

The Meaning of the Command

Now let’s look at what the command actually means. It is very short, very abrupt, very terse, only six consonants in the original Hebrew – a four letter word for murder and a two letter negative. It could be translated ‘no murder’ or ‘no killing’. Actually, both of these translations fall short, as we will see. The word here translated ‘murder’ or ‘kill’ (xur ratsach raw-tsakh’) is a relatively rare word, only showing up about 40 times in the Old Testament. There are several other much more common words that carry similar meaning. This particular word is never used when God or angels put to death. It is never used to describe killing animals. This word is never used for killing in war. It is never used to describe capital punishment. It is never used to describe lethal force in self-defense. So our English translation ‘thou shalt not kill’ is too broad a translation, including many types of killing that the sixth command does not forbid. The bible goes on to establish the death penalty for murderers, it authorizes us to defend ourselves and our families, it puts the sword in the hand of government to execute justice among its people and defend them from hostile enemies. However, the translation ‘you shall not murder’ is too narrow a translation, as indicated by the footnote in the ESV bible: “The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence” – something we would usually consider ‘manslaughter’ rather than ‘murder.’ So, some have suggested translating this ‘no unlawful killing’ or ‘no illegitimate killing’, which may be more precise but awkward.

So this command specifically applies to people killing other people. It does not forbid war or capital punishment or self-defense. It does include negligence or carelessness, as in the case where an axe head comes off the handle and kills a man (Deut.19:5) or the failure to put a rail around a roof where someone could fall and die. (Deut.22:8). This command clearly includes suicide, the taking of one’s own life, abortion – the gruesome murder of a child in its own mother’s womb, and euthanasia, the murder of our elderly.

Jesus on Murder

Now that we’ve seen what this command does and does not include, let’s look at what Jesus says about it.

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Jesus brings us to the heart of the matter. He goes back from what we do, to what we say, which shows what is in our heart. Murder is ultimately a heart issue. I’m guessing most of us here have never committed murder. If there is someone here who has, praise God, there is forgiveness in Jesus even for that. And to those of you that are uncomfortable with the thought of worshiping alongside a former murderer, listen to what Jesus says:

Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Jesus, who claimed never to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it, includes under the sixth command anger, insult, and slander. Jesus moves us from thinking only about the outward act in to the attitudes of the heart. What we think and feel and say about our fellow man matters deeply to Jesus. In fact Jesus puts reconciliation before worship. We can’t legitimately worship God when we are at odds with our brother. Seek reconciliation. Get your heart right before God.

The Command to Love

Jesus is not adding to God’s law something that was not there. He is returning us to the original intent of the law, raising it back up to God’s high standard. We can see this in Leviticus 19:17-18.

Leviticus 19:17 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Obedience to God’s law is a heart issue. How we feel about someone is just as serious as how we treat them. Carrying a grudge is sin. We are commanded to love.

Paul tells us that all the commands of God are summed up in the command to love.

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

James picks up this thread of love:

James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Partiality, or showing favoritism based on appearances, is considered a violation of the law of love, akin to murder. James is concerned with how we speak and how we act. Remember, the command ‘no murder’ extends even to carelessness and negligence? James continues:

James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

If it is careless to not properly maintain your axe or to swing it in such a way that it could endanger another person; if it is negligent to fail to build a rail around your balcony, then what does that say about how we value life if we see someone in a life threatening situation and do nothing to help? If we truly value life as God intends, we must not be careless or negligent with anyone’s life. Man is created in the image of God. If we want to honor God, then it will have implications on how we treat our fellow man. James addresses this in chapter 3:

James 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body …6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. …8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words pierce right through my soul. It is inconsistent to worship God with our tongue and with that same tongue tear down those who are made in the image of God. This sixth command extends to what we say and think and feel.

John points us in the same direction:

1 John 3:11 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;

Jesus is our example in love. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.”

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, … ungodly. … 8 …God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:12; Word #5 – Honor

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110814_exodus20_12.mp3

08/14 Exodus 20:12 Word #5 Honor

We are studying God’s ten words to the people he redeemed from slavery in Egypt and bought to be his own. He is now giving them his house rules, what it looks like to be in relationship with him. He starts with himself, because everything is all about God. He introduces himself as the self-existent one, YHWH, who brought them out of slavery. His first four words of instruction are about our vertical relationship with our Creator and Redeemer. You shall have no other gods, I am to be worshiped exclusively. You shall not misrepresent me by using images in worship. You shall honor my name, my character, my reputation. You shall honor me with your time and set aside time to enjoy our relationship.

Now, in commandment five, there is a shift in focus from the vertical relationship with our God to our horizontal relationships with our fellow men. And it’s instructive to see where he starts. We might think he would start with the sanctity of life – you shall not murder. Or with the most basic unit of society, the marriage relationship – you shall not commit adultery. Or, he could start with being satisfied with God alone – you shall not covet. But instead he starts here:

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Honor God Alone or Honor Parents?

Honor father and mother. This is a surprising command, because he has just finished telling us that we are to honor, reverence, and worship God alone. And now he tells us to honor or reverence someone else, namely our parents. The Hebrew word translated ‘honor’ here is interesting. The same root word is used in Exodus 14 three times for God ‘getting glory’ over Pharaoh (v.4,17,18). The Hebrew word “Kabad”, translated honor or reverence or glory literally means ‘heavy’ or ‘weighty’. God is not to be taken lightly. He is substantial. He is to be treated, not with an ounce, but with tons of respect. We are to weigh what he says with great gravity. This word for honor or glory shows up in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

Fear him, praise him, honor or glorify him, stand in awe of him. That is how we are to respond to God. Now this is extended to human parents.

In fact, in Leviticus 19, this word for fear is extended toward mother and father:

Leviticus 19:3 Every one of you shall revere (AV fear) his mother and his father, and you shall keep my Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

How is it that we are to reverence, fear, and honor God alone, and yet he extends this same reverence, fear, or respect to our parents? Isaiah (48:11) tells us that God will not give his glory to another, and yet he commands that we give glory or honor to our parents.

In Hebrews chapter 12, there is a parallel drawn between our earthly fathers, who discipline us, and to whom we owe respect, and God, who treats us as sons and disciplines us for our good. We are to honor our parents as an extension of God’s authority. The authority of parents is derived from God’s authority. Parents serve as a visible extension of God to us. Paul expands this general principle to all governing authorities in Romans 13. He says

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. …4 for he is God’s servant for your good. …he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. … 6 … for the authorities are ministers of God…

Parents receive their authority from God. They have been appointed by God, and they serve God in administering his authority. Paul concludes

Romans 13:7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

We owe a debt of honor to God and to our parents. We demonstrate that we honor God by honoring those he has placed in authority over us. To dishonor parents is to dishonor the one who gave them to us.

John asserts that we cannot disconnect how we treat people on the horizontal level from what we think of God on the vertical level.

1John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

So showing honor to parents whom God invested with authority is a tangible way of demonstrating that we truly honor God who is the ultimate authority.

Death Penalty for Dishonor

This is a serious issue. God takes honor of father and mother so seriously, that he established the death penalty for children who do not show honor to their parents.

Exodus 21:15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Exodus 21:17 “Whoever curses his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Leviticus 20:7 Consecrate yourselves, therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God. 8 Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 9 For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.

The concrete expressions of dishonor worthy of death were striking parents or cursing parents; we might say talking back to parents. In Deuteronomy, there is a procedure given for how to handle a persistently stubborn, rebellious, disobedient son, who will not respond to discipline.

Deuteronomy 21:18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

In the New Testament we find disobedience to parents showing up in some shocking catalogs of the worst of the worst.

Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self–control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

It might be a shock to our modern ears to hear something as commonplace and tolerated as disobedience to parents listed alongside murder, ruthless, treacherous, abusive, inventors of evil, haters of God.

Why is this so serious? Why death under the old covenant for those who dishonor parents? This disregard for proper human authority demonstrates a disregard for the one who established that authority. We no longer execute disobedient children. But in Romans we are told that the wages of sin is death (6:23), and that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (3:23). We have all failed to give God the glory and honor that we owe to him. The consequences for this God-dishonoring attitude is spiritual death, or eternal separation from God.

What Does It Mean to Honor Parents?

One way we honor God is by honoring parents. Practically, what does this look like? Let’s take a look to the wisdom book of Proverbs to get some snapshots of what it looks like to honor mother and father.

Proverbs 1:8 Hear, my son, your father‘s instruction, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching,

Proverbs 6:20 My son, keep your father‘s commandment, and forsake not your mother‘s teaching.

Proverbs 10:1 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.

Proverbs 15:20 A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

Proverbs 19:26 He who does violence to his father and chases away his mother is a son who brings shame and reproach.

Proverbs 20:20 If one curses his father or his mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness.

Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Proverbs 23:25 Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.

Proverbs 28:24 Whoever robs his father or his mother and says, “That is no transgression,” is a companion to a man who destroys.

Proverbs 30:17 The eye that mocks a father and scorns to obey a mother will be picked out by the ravens of the valley and eaten by the vultures.

This is what honor looks like: listening to their instruction, not forsaking their teaching, not despising them, not stealing from them, not violent toward them, not cursing, mocking or scorning them, bringing joy and not sorrow to their hearts. We can add this to what Deuteronomy told us about not being stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, or unresponsive to discipline.

Jesus confronted the Pharisees of his day over their encouraging people to violate the fifth command.

Matthew 15:3 He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God, 6 he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. (cf. Mark 7:10-13)

Jesus connects honor of parents directly to how an adult son cares for his elderly parents. The Pharisees allowed a son who wanted to get out of his responsibility to care for his parents to dedicate his assets to God. The primary social responsibility for the care of the elderly falls on their own family. This may have far reaching implications on our own personal finances. Paul even says:

1Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(This, by the way, is a good argument for having a lot of kids – I want to be well cared for when I’m old!)

The Example of Jesus

We can learn more about what honoring our parents should look like by looking at how Jesus honored his Father.

John 8:49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.

Jesus, in his dispute with the Pharisees, described what it means to honor your father. Jesus said “if you knew me, you would know my Father also” (Jn.8:19). His character was such a perfect reflection of the character of the Father, that to know one was to know the other. Jesus said “I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me” (Jn.8:28). Jesus was in perfect submission to his Father’s authority. He was perfectly obedient to his Father, he listened to and learned from his Father. Even in his speech, he perfectly reflected the Father. He sums up his honor of the Father in this way: “I always do the things that are pleasing to him” (Jn.8:29). On two different occasions, the Father attested to this verbally from heaven, saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt.3:17; 17:5). Jesus gave us the perfect picture of what it means to honor parents.

Jesus Lord of the Family

But Jesus also said some radical things to his followers about family relationships

Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter–in–law against her mother–in–law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Is Jesus teaching us to violate the fifth commandment? At first glance, it might seem so. But he was simply honoring the priority of God in all things. Where there is a conflict between obedience to God and obedience to parents, we must obey God rather than men. In commandment five, we are told that the child to parent relationship is second in honor only to the relationship of people to God. And Jesus, in saying that you cannot love father or mother more than me, in other words, you must honor me above father and mother, Jesus is blatantly claiming to be God! Jesus demands our allegiance above even family.

Practical Implications

Let’s try to tie this all together. What do we do with all this? First of all, we should keep first things first. We must honor God, we must honor Jesus above all human relationships, even family. He demands first place in everything.

We should follow Jesus’ example, to always do the things that are pleasing to the Father.

We as children must honor, reverence, respect our parents.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

By extension, we must honor all those God has placed in positions of authority.

Parents, demand honor from your children. Discipline them lovingly, for their good. Do not tolerate disobedience or disrespect. Train them to respect authority. Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Teach them to honor the Lord and those he has placed in authority.

There might be a parent who says ‘but I’m not worthy of honor.’ That may be true, but this is bigger than you. God has given you authority, and he has entrusted your children into your care. In training them how to relate to you as a parent, you are teaching them about God. Do your job.

Parents, act in a manner worthy of honor and respect. If you want to be honored, have character that is honorable. Add to your faith; virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love (2Pet.1:5-7).

This honor or respect is foundational to life and society. Honoring our parents as God commanded is a way of glorifying God. 

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 14, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 20:8-11 Word #4; Stop to Remember

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110807_exodus20_8-11.mp3

08/07 Exodus 20:8-11 Word # 4 Stop to Remember

We are studying God’s ten words to his people, his house rules that he gave to his people after he saved them from slavery in Egypt. That is critical to understand. This is not God’s list of how to earn his favor. They are given after he has freely saved his undeserving people and brought them into relationship with himself. Now he is telling them what that relationship should look like. God’s instructions start with God, because God is unashamedly God-centered, the universe he created is God-centered, and the people he redeemed are to be God-centered people. He starts by saying ‘I am YHWH your God. I saved you. You are to have no other gods. You are to make no images. Who I am is not to be taken lightly.’ And then he gives us his fourth commandment, ‘I am to be the center of your time’. And this is the first of his commands that is framed positively. So many people object to all the negativity in God’s commands. ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that, no, no, no, thou shalt not…’ This fourth command starts out telling us positively what we are to do. And interestingly enough, this is the command that most people don’t like and don’t want to listen to. If we were at liberty to choose nine from God’s top ten list and throw one out, this is the one that many Christians want to toss. Here it is:

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sabbath is a hot-button issue within the Christian community. Are Christians required to keep the Sabbath? When? How?

Let me start by giving you some of the major views of this controversy, then I’ll give you some New Testament scriptures that will serve as guiding principles for us, and then I want to get back to the command itself and see what we can learn from it. And just so you know, I am not intending to give you the final word on this issue. I intend to leave you with more questions than answers today, and I expect each of you to wrestle through this question yourself with your bible before God and decide what you will do with it. I am not done wrestling with it myself, and I still have a lot to learn.

Differing Views Among Believers

Here are some of the major views on what the Sabbath means for the Christian:

The first major dividing line on this issue is whether or not the Sabbath is required for the Christian. Those who say yes, Christians are required to keep the Sabbath because it is part of God’s unchanging moral law, divide into two main groups – those who would keep the Sabbath on Saturday; technically from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown; and those who say that since the resurrection, Christians are to keep the Sabbath now on the first day of the week, or the Lord’s Day, which seems to have been the practice of the church from earliest times. Both of these groups would further divide on what it means to keep the Sabbath. Is it primarily a day of rest, where idleness is the ideal, or is it primarily a day of worship, where energy is to be spent in pursuit of deepening our relationship with the Lord?

Those on the other side of the major dividing line would say ‘no, the Sabbath is no longer mandatory for the Christian’ would also divide into two main groups. Some would say that Christ did away with the Sabbath and at his resurrection instituted a new day of worship, the Lord’s Day, or Sunday. Others would say, ‘no, Christ did away with the Sabbath and now every day is holy, set apart to the Lord. There is no one day that is more holy than another.

Is it still to be observed or not? Is it Saturday, is it Sunday, is it every day? Is the focus to be rest or worship? There are godly believers who would argue passionately from the bible for each one of these very different perspectives. So what are we to do? Let me read to you some passages in the New Testament that give us insight on this specific issue:

Not Required for Salvation

Galatians 4:8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

The church in Galatia was in danger of turning away from the grace of Christ to a different gospel (Gal.1:6). They were turning away from justification by faith in Christ and back to law-keeping. Paul had strong words for them. No one is justified by the works of the law! (Gal.2:16). So if we make Sabbath-keeping a requirement for salvation, or if we think that we gain favor with God by observing a holy day, however we define it, then we are in danger of turning away from the true gospel. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, on the merits of Christ alone and in no way by keeping any part of the law.

Room for Difference of Opinion

In Romans 14, Paul addresses disputable issues on which there are legitimate differing perspectives, like eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols.

Romans 14:1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. 2 One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. 3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. … 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. … 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. … 22 The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

Paul clearly says that there is room in the body of Christ for difference of opinion, not on sin, but on disputable issues, and he says that one day above another or every day alike is one of those disputable issues. In other words, you can make a good biblical argument (and many do) for saying that we should treat one day out of seven differently, to be set aside for rest and worship. And you can make a good biblical argument for saying that because of Christ, every day is sanctified and holy to the Lord. And Paul’s ruling principles for dealing with disputable things are: do not violate your own conscience and do not pass judgment on your brother. On an issue like this, we need to heed these wise words.

A Shadow of Christ

In Colossians 2, Paul points all of us lawbreakers back to the cross:

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. … 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

Paul in Romans tells us not to pass judgment on others over disputable things, and here in Colossians he tells us to plant our resurrected forgiven feet firmly on the cross of Jesus and let no-one pass judgment on you in questions of a Sabbath keeping. The Sabbath is a shadow pointing to the deeper reality in Christ!

A Look at the Law

Now, if that is true, that the Sabbath is a shadow that points us to Christ, and that all Old Testament scripture is God-breathed and profitable, then if we look back to the Old Testament Sabbath with a view to seeing what it teaches about Christ, and let that shape our hearts and our minds, we will benefit greatly. So let’s look.

Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Memorialize the stop-work day. The Hebrew word ‘Sabbath’ means ‘stop’ or ‘cessation’. Think of this through the lens of a Hebrew slave. My people have been in bondage for 400 years. Forced labor for a cruel taskmaster. No relief. They ruthlessly made us to work as slaves and made our lives bitter with hard service (Ex.1:13-14). God heard our cry for rescue from slavery and he came to our rescue. He crushed our oppressors and brought us out by mighty demonstrations of his sovereign power. He fed us and cared for us in the wilderness, and he said ‘I’m your new boss now, and I demand that you take a mandatory day off every week’. Imagine their response: ‘Do we have to? We like working 24/7, 365 days a year. Rest? What kind of a master are you, demanding that we rest?!! We want to neglect our families, abuse our bodies, ignore our God, we just want to work work work!

Why is it that God offers us a blessing, he invites us to a holiday, and we bring excuses and look for a way out? God frees us from slavery and offers us rest, and we find reasons to justify our desire to keep right on in our everyday busyness. Wouldn’t you think that we as Christians would come to God and say ‘I know that we are not under law but under grace, and I know that we are set free from the demands of the law in Christ Jesus, and that we cannot possibly earn your favor by any kind of law-keeping, but would it be okay if in that freedom, we still took a day off to enjoy rest from our labors and focus our hearts toward you in worship? Can we use our blood-bought freedom that way?”

This idea of stopping to enjoy, as the fourth commandment tells us, has its roots in creation:

Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

God rested. He didn’t need to. He wasn’t tired. He stopped to enjoy what he had made. By his own example, he built that in to our seven day weekly rhythm.

And this idea of stopping to enjoy is also rooted in redemption. In Deuteronomy, when Moses retells God’s law to the next generation before they enter the promised land, he says it this way:

Deuteronomy 5:12 “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Rest, remember God’s awesome power in the six day creation. Remember his awesome power demonstrated in your salvation. As God graciously has extended to you rest and enjoyment, you extend it to those God has entrusted to your care.

The prophet Isaiah communicated God’s displeasure in the way Israel abused this day. He pictured for them what it should look like

Isaiah 58:13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Delight in the day because you delight in me. Enjoy your blood-bought relationship with me. Look to me and I will exhilarate you.

The Substance Belongs to Christ

Remember, Colossians 2:16-17 told us that the Sabbath was a shadow, the substance of which belongs to Christ.

Lord of the Sabbath

When we look through the Old Testament, over and over we hear about the Sabbath to the Lord, the Sabbath to the Lord, the Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord, the Sabbath to the Lord. When the Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of breaking the Sabbath, he responded by saying “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Mt.12:8; Mk.2:28; Lk.6:5). In the Old Testament, the Sabbath belongs to the Lord, and Jesus says ‘I am Lord over the Sabbath, the Sabbath is mine.’

Do Good on the Sabbath

Jesus taught that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. (Mt.12:12; Mk.3:4; Lk.6:9; 13:15-16; 14:3; Jn.7:23). Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, took occasion over and over on the Sabbath to cast out demons and to make the lame walk and cause the blind to see and make the crippled whole, so much so that an exasperated synagogue leader cried out:

Luke 13:14 … “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.”

Jesus head-on challenged the thinking on what it means to keep the Sabbath.

The Heart of the Sabbath

The Sabbath was a shadow; the substance belongs to Christ. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath. He said:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

When Jesus addressed God’s law, he lifted it up. He never tossed it aside. In fact he continues:

Matthew 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

In Jesus’ teaching on the law, he always drove it deeper, to a heart level, dealing with inward desire, not merely external conformity. Not just the outward act of murder, but what about the hatred in your heart? Not just the outward act of adultery, but what about the lust in your heart? What about self-righteousness? What about pride? Jesus lifts up the law to show us the spiritual intent, that it is holy and righteous and good (Rom.7:12, 14, 16). Whatever Sabbath-keeping might look like today, Jesus showed us that it is an issue of the heart, and it is a time for doing good, opening the eyes of the blind, setting the captives free, making people whole.

The Fulfillment of the Sabbath

Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath in another way. Jesus is the fulfillment of the stop-work day. Some of the people were following him around looking for food. He told them:

John 6:27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

This was a question of labor; what must we do to be doing the works of God? Jesus said ‘Stop working and trust in me. Believe in me. Rest in the work that I will do for you.’ All work that is aimed at earning favor with God stops in Jesus.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus invites us to come to him for rest. Do you need a break? Do you long for rest? Are you weary? Jesus beckons us to come. Come to me and rest. You will find rest for your souls.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

August 7, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment