PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Leviticus 23:1-22; Holy Time; The Spring Feasts

02/26 Leviticus 23:1-22; Holy Time – the Spring Feasts; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170226_leviticus-23_1-22.mp3

We are in the second section of Leviticus, the section that deals with the holiness of God’s forgiven people. We see in chapters 17-27 that for those who have been forgiven by God by means of sacrifice, for those who are now in a relationship with God, all of life becomes holy. Chapters 21 and 22 addressed holy people, instructions for those God set apart to be his priests. Here in chapter 23, God addresses holy time; there are days and seasons that God has set apart to communicate truth, to remind us to look back on his past faithfulness, to point us forward to the promise of his future grace, to make space in our schedules to reflect, to focus our attention on him.

All the way back in Genesis 1, at creation, God said:

Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons [mow`ed], and for days and years,

The word for ‘seasons’ [mow`ed], shows up 6 times in Leviticus 23, translated here as ‘appointed feasts’. This word is used many times in Leviticus to refer to the tent of meeting. It refers to an appointment, an assembly, a place of meeting. In Leviticus 23 it is pointing to an appointed meeting time. We also find the phrase ‘holy convocations’ [miqra’ qodesh] 11 times in this chapter; a convocation is a summons or a calling out, a public meeting, reading or rehearsal. 5 times we see the word translated ‘a day of solemn rest’. 10 times the phrase ‘you shall do no work’.

This chapter deals with holy time, time set apart to the LORD, time to cease from the routine, time to rest and reflect, time to gather, to assemble together to remember together.

Outline

1-8 Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread

1-2 intro

3 weekly Sabbath – solemn rest; holy convocation; no work

4-8 Passover and Unleavened Bread

1st day – holy convocation; no ordinary work

7th day – holy convocation; no ordinary work

9-22 Firstfruits and Weeks

9-14 Feast of Firstfruits

15-22 Feast of Weeks [Harvest, Pentecost] – holy convocation; no ordinary work

23-25 Trumpets – solemn rest; memorial; holy convocation; no ordinary work

26-32 Day of Atonement – holy convocation; no work; sabbath of solemn rest

33-44 Booths [Ingathering, Tabernacles]

1st day – holy convocation; no ordinary work; solemn rest

8th day – holy convocation, solemn assembly; no ordinary work; solemn rest

This chapter breaks into two main sections; 1-22, and 23-44; each major section concluding with the phrase “I am YHWH your God.” It further breaks down into five sections, beginning in verses 1, 9, 23, 26, and 33; each beginning with the declaration “the LORD spoke to Moses, saying…” The first section is a reminder of the weekly Sabbath, and gives instructions on the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The second section addresses the presentation of the Firstfruits during the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the presentation of firstfruits seven weeks or 50 days later. The second half of the chapter deals with the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths. The first major section, verses 1-22, deal with the Spring Festivals; the second major section deals with the Fall Festivals.

There are seven holy convocations in addition to the weekly Sabbath; four of these are specified as days of solemn rest.

Three of these, The Feast of Unleavened bread, The Feast of Weeks or Harvest, and the Feast of Booths or Ingathering were to be pilgrim festivals.

Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (cf. Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23)

At these three, every male was to come up to the temple.

Weekly Sabbaths

Leviticus 23:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. 3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

This is a reminder of the fourth commandment, that as God created all things in six days and then rested to enjoy what he had made, so we are to labor for six days and rest for one. At the beginning of a chapter addressing annual holy days of rest and worship, there is a reminder of the weekly cycle of work and rest. The other feasts are founded on this basic cycle of work and rest. Many of the feasts take on the characteristics of a weekly Sabbath, even if they do not fall on a Saturday. The Sabbath is a solemn day of rest, a holy convocation, a Sabbath to the LORD. Every moment of time is a gift. Some time is to be set aside to enjoy sweet fellowship with our Creator. These sacred times of rest are to be Godward rest, Sabbaths to the LORD. They are to be pervasive. In all your dwelling places, wherever you are, there is to be time set aside for devotion to the LORD.

Passover and Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:4 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8 But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”

This is a very brief summary of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The origin of these celebrations comes from Exodus 12-13, where God took his people out of slavery in Egypt. A Passover lamb was sacrificed in place of the firstborn son in each home, and the blood was applied to the door to protect those inside from the destroyer. Exodus 12:2 states that at the Exodus, the Lord changed this month, the month of Abib (or Nisan) to be the first month of the year for them. This was the birth of the nation of Israel. “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos.11:1; Mt.2:15).

Notice, at twilight on the 14th day the Passover was celebrated. On the following day, the 15th, began the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The leaven was removed on the first day of the Feast, on the day after the Passover was sacrificed. No leaven was to be used for the duration of the feast. The first day and the seventh day of the feast were to be holy convocations.

Firstfruits

Leviticus 23:9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

There is some debate as to exactly when the firstfruits was presented. Most likely, it was on the day after the Sabbath during the feast of Unleavened Bread. So if Passover fell on Friday, then the Sabbath, Saturday, would be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, the Firstfruits would be presented. This would be the first barley harvest, in March or April. Nothing of the new harvest was to be eaten until this presentation of the Firstfruits was made to the LORD. This was a very tangible reminder that everything belonged to the LORD, and every good thing came from him. The Firstfruits was the first portion of the new spring harvest, a promise of more of the harvest to come.

Weeks [Harvest, Pentecost]

Leviticus 23:15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

The Feast of Weeks was calculated 7 weeks or 50 days after the Sunday of Firstfruits. This would fall on a Sunday in late May or early June, and coincide with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. This is the only feast where leavened bread was permitted. Jewish tradition connects this feast to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt.

Pointing Back and Forward

These feasts would be annual reminders that God is the source of every good thing. This year, we are again dependent on God’s provision for our needs. It is he that causes crops to grow. These feasts would also be memorials of God’s past faithfulness. God decisively delivered his people out of bondage and into relationship with him. He faithfully provided bread from heaven throughout the wilderness wanderings, even in the midst of the disobedience and grumbling of the people. When Israel entered the promised land, they enjoyed the produce from a land they had not worked. Feasts are memorials of God’s past and present faithfulness. But there is a future aspect to these feasts. They were pointers to something to come. Just as we have seen that the Levitical sacrificial system was a shadow of good things to come, pointing to Jesus, so the calendar of feasts was a shadow, drawing our attention to the fulfillment in Jesus.

When John saw Jesus approaching, he cried out

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. Jesus was crucified on Passover. It is important to remember that the sacrifice was killed before the leaven was cleansed. Leaven is a symbol of sin.

1 Corinthians 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

We do not attempt to clean ourselves up in order to be rescued by Jesus. We begin to cleanse out the old leaven becaus Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Sin has been put away by his crucifixion (Heb.9:26). “…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is.53:6). Jesus’ body rested in the grave on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. But on the day after the Sabbath, on Sunday Morning, he was presented alive!

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

On the day the first of the barley harvest was presented to the Priests in the temple, Jesus presented himself alive. Over the next 40 days, he presented himself alive to many witnesses. After 40 days, he ascended to the right hand of his Father in heaven. And ten days later, 50 days after his resurrection,

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

On the feast of Weeks, when the Firstfruits of the wheat harvest were presented in the temple, the Lord poured out his Spirit on his followers, and the church was born. On the day commemorating the giving of the Law on Sinai, the Spirit was given to the believers gathered in Jerusalem, the fulfillment of the New Covenant promises.

We may wonder why the section from chapter 19 on regulations for harvesting is appended again here in Leviticus 23.

Leviticus 23:22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

But it seems appropriate that in the context of the church, where Jew and Gentile are united in one body through the gospel, there would be some mention of blessings extended to the foreigners, the outsiders.

Leaven

It is interesting to remember that Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, was the one feast where leavened bread was permitted. Leaven puffs up, picturing pride, and as such it was not permitted on the altar. In Matthew 13, Jesus told a series of parables describing what the kingdom would be like. He compared it to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his servants were sleeping an enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Both were allowed to grow together until the harvest. He likened it to a mustard seed which grew abnormally large and provided a refuge for the evil birds of the air. Then he compared it to leaven that a woman hid in three measures of flour. He compared it to a field which was purchased in order to obtain the treasure hidden there. He compared it to a net which gathered fish of every kind, later to be sorted out, good from bad. Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is a mixed bag. There would be the good, genuine wheat, good fish, a treasure; but there would be also bad, weeds, bad fish, room even for the agents of the evil one to be at home within its expanding branches. Jesus taught that these would be allowed to grow together, but they would be sorted out at the end of the age. Jesus is telling us tha the church is leavened. It is mixed. There is good together with the bad. There will be true believers, and there will be false professors. Among Jesus’ own twelve, there was a Judas. It is not our job to sort them all out. Jesus is fully capable of doing that. It is our job to ‘examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith’ (2Cor.13:5); and to ‘keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching‘ (1Tim.4:16). It is our job to ‘strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Heb.12:14). It is our job to live in such a way ‘that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt.5:16). It is even our job to ‘purge the evil person from among you’ (1Cor.5:12). It is our job to ‘pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Mt.9:38). And to trust the Lord that even some who smell a lot like bad fish would experience the transformational work of the Spirit and become new creations before the end. Among Jesus’ disciples there was also a Peter, who was told ‘get behind me Satan’ (Mt.16:23); who denied Jesus 3 times, who went on tobe restored, and to ‘feed my sheep’ (Jn.21:17).

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

March 1, 2017 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 31:12-18; Enter Into Rest

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20120624_exodus31_12-18.mp3

06/24 Exodus 31:12-18; 35:1-3 Sabbath Rest

Six Times in Exodus

Whenever God speaks we should listen. When God repeats himself, we had better pay close attention. But if God were to say something six times, wouldn’t that be an indication that this is something dear to his heart and important for us to hear?

Exodus 31:12-18 is the fourth of six times in Exodus that the Sabbath is addressed.

The first, in chapter 16, came shortly after God saved his people, bringing them out of slavery, conquering their enemies, providing for their needs in the wilderness. When they grumbled, he supplied them with bread from heaven six days out of seven as a test, to see if they would walk in obedience to their God or not. He said:

Exodus 16:23 … “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.”’ …26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

Of course, the people failed the test.

Exodus 16:27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

This was before the law was given, and this was a gift! God’s gift to his freed slaves; the gift of rest.

In commandment #4 of the ten commandments, God said:

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.

In chapter 23, where God is expanding on what life lived in relationship with him should look like, he reiterates:

Exodus 23:12 “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.

Then this passage, here at the end of his instructions for building his tent,the place where he will dwell in the midst of the people, after he designates the workmen who will do the work on the tabernacle, he reminds his people of the primary importance of the Sabbath rest.

Exodus 31:12 And the LORD said to Moses, 13 “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” 18 And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

In chapter 34, after the people violated God’s covenant, after Moses had broken the two tablets, after the people repented and as God was graciously renewing his covenant with his sinful people, he says:

Exodus 34:21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.

Finally, in chapter 35, as work is about to begin on this portable worship center, a place that in every detail would point to Jesus,

Exodus 35:1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the people of Israel and said to them, “These are the things that the LORD has commanded you to do. 2 Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire in all your dwelling places on the Sabbath day.”

This issue of Sabbath rest is apparently very important to God, important enough to repeat it six times in this foundational book of the Old Testament.

Review

When we were in chapter 20, studying God’s ten words to his people, we saw that there are differences of opinion among believers in Jesus on how to apply these scriptures to our lives today. We learned in Galatians 4 that to observe a day as a way to gain favor with God would be turning away from the grace of Christ to a different gospel. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, and not by any observance or effort on our part.

We saw in Romans 14 that there is room for differences of opinion among Christians on secondary issues like food and drink and days of the week, and we are not to violate our own conscience and we are not to pass judgment on our brothers and sisters who see it differently.

In Colossians 2, it is pointed out that we are all lawbreakers who receive forgiveness because God nailed the record of our debt that stood against us to the cross of our Lord Jesus. We are cautioned to

Colossians 2:16 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.

Here we are clearly told that the Sabbath was a shadow of things to come, and that the substance, the real thing that casts the shadow, is Jesus Christ. So let’s examine the contours of this shadow to see what it teaches us about our Jesus, and then let’s look up from the shadow into the reality of the face of our Lord.

Observations in Exodus 31

Just a few observations in our text in Exodus. First, in verse 12 there is an emphatic word that is translated ‘above all’ in the ESV; ‘verily’ in the KJV; ‘surely’ in the NAS. This is important. If you don’t get that I’ll highlight it by repeating it six times in this book alone. If that isn’t enough to get your attention, I’ll attach the death penalty for ignoring the Sabbath. If there is something that God takes seriously enough to make a capital offense, that should be an indication that this is something he wants us to pay attention to. It seems that the threat of death is one thing that tends to get a human’s attention.

Notice how God talks about the Sabbath. He says it is ‘my Sabbath’. He says it is to be holy for you and you are not to profane it. He says is is for ‘solemn rest, holy to the Lord’. This is not just a day off, a weekly vacation day from our regular routine. This is a day set apart, set aside for something; or rather for someone. This is ‘my Sabbath’. This is not just a day of rest but ‘solemn rest’, and it is to be set apart ‘to the Lord’.

It Is God Who Sanctifies

Notice also that through the shadow of the Sabbath, God wants us to know something. He says in verse 13 that ‘it is a sign between me and you …that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.’ In Exodus we have seen a lot of sanctification. Everything in God’s tent was to be sanctified or set apart, consecrated, made holy, designated for God’s use alone. Even God’s servants the priests were to be set apart or sanctified to him. In chapter 29, we are told that it is the glory of God that will set apart this tent for his exclusive use.

Exodus 29:42 …at the entrance of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there. 43 There I will meet with the people of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

It is the glory of God’s presence that sets everything apart for him. The Sabbath is to be a reminder that ‘I the LORD sanctify you.’ You do not sanctify yourselves. You do not sanctify each other. You are not sanctified by some special rite or ritual or thing. You and I are set apart for God by God himself.

How is the Sabbath rest a reminder that it is God who sanctifies us? Remember what the Sabbath means. ‘Shebat’ means to cease or stop. You are to labor or work for six days and then stop. Cease. Desist. Nothing that we do can sanctify us. It is the Lord that sanctifies you. So stop! Stop trying to set yourself apart! Stop trying to impress God with your moral uprightness and personal holiness. Stop thinking that there is anything you can do to make yourself acceptable to a holy God. God invites us to rest in him, to depend on him, to trust him.

God Is the Giver of Every Good Thing

But if I stop working, how will I eat? Who will provide for my needs? This stop work day is a reminder that it is God who provides for my needs every day through my obedient work, but that God is not dependent on my work to provide for my needs. God is provider, whether through my efforts, or in spite of my efforts, or altogether without my efforts. This stop work day is a reminder that every good thing comes to us as a gift from God.

1 Corinthians 4:7 …What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

We have an awesomely generous God who loves to give. For our good and for our pleasure, he wants us to know that everything comes from him. In Old Testament books like Ezekiel (16) and Hosea, God likens his people to a wife that takes the thoughtful gifts of her generous husband and hawks them to pay for lovers to sleep around with. What you are searching for in the emptiness of repeat affairs, I am offering in the satisfaction of rich and exclusively intimate relationship. So that we do not destroy ourselves searching for pleasure in things that will bring ruin, God invites us into relationship with him, and points us to the fact that every good thing comes from him.

Working is Different from Waiting

The prophet Isaiah highlights the difference between the one true God and every false God.

Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.

Every false God asks us to work for them, to serve them, to give them things that they need. Requirements are extensive and demands are high. We worship the all-sufficient God, who lacks nothing and needs nothing from us.

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.

Romans 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Who has ever heard of a God like this? Who has ever heard of a God besides you, who works for those who wait for him? Stop working and receive. Stop working and rest. Trust. Depend. Allow God to do the work for you. Allow him to do his work in you ‘that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you’.

This contrast between working for and resting in is spelled out in Romans 4.

Romans 4:1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

If you work, then what you get is wages, and you have every right to be proud of yourself for earning them. If you do not work, but instead beg, then anything you receive is a gift, and you have no right to boast except in the generosity of the giver. We are in the position of a disabled beggar, unable to work, but dependent on the benevolence of our most generous God. We can boast only in his greatness.

In fact, if we look back to our text in Exodus, we see that anyone who attempts to work when God commands us to rest will surely die. Our work profanes or pollutes or desecrates or defiles God’s rest. Ephesians tells us (2:8-10) that we are God’s workmanship, and that our salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not our own doing, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Titus tells us (3:5) that God our Savior, he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy. Galatians tells us that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, and that by the works of the law no one will be justified’ (2:16); that we receive the Spirit by hearing with faith and not by the works of the law (3:2); that we do not boast in the flesh but only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (6:13-14); that to attempt to be justified by the law is to nullify the grace of God and to say that Christ died for no purpose (2:21). Jesus “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk.10:45). Jesus cried out from the cross “it is finished” (Jn.19:30). Any attempt to add our efforts to his finished work is to negate grace, to despise Christ, and to scorn God’s generosity.

Invitation to Enter and Enjoy

Hebrews exhorts us to enter in to the rest of God by faith (Heb.3-4).

Hebrews 4:10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

Our passage in Exodus tells us that ‘in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed (31:17); literally, he stopped and took a breath. God was not winded when he completed his work. Instead, he stopped to enjoy what he had made. He saw that it was very good. He took pleasure and delight in his finished work. Now that Jesus has finished the work of redemption on the cross, he invites us to enter into his rest. He invites us into his presence to enjoy the fruit of his finished work. He invites us to ‘enter into the joy of your master’ (Mt.25:21,23). Jesus desires that we be with him where he is, to see his glory (Jn.17:24). We are invited in, where ‘in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Ps.16:11). Listen:

Psalm 36:7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

Jesus says ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (Jn.7:37). Jesus says:

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.”

Stop working. Come. Rest. Find satisfaction. Be refreshed in the finished work of Jesus.

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

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , | Leave a comment