Summary: When it seems that the whole world is coming apart at the seams, mature Christians remain calm because they have learned to rest assured that the Lord in whom they trust is in control of their destiny.
TO ATTAIN GODLINESS IS TO GAIN CONTENTMENT IS TO ENJOY GOD’S GIFT OF REST
Our focus today is on one of those values that many Christians may have lost sight of - rest! To rest is as Christlike as any other value taught in the Bible. Jesus extends to everyone His invitation: “Come unto Me, all ye who are heavy-laden and over-burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Rest as promised by Jesus was not a new concept! Rest was God’s idea in the beginning - and I’ve always thought it was a pretty good idea! The FACT of the matter is: God commanded rest – Exodus 20:8-11 . . .
In a previous session, we expounded on the idea that godliness (godly living) stems from “an attitude of devotion to God which translates into (is reflected by) actions (words and deeds) that are right in God’s sight” (of course, what’s right in God’s sight is based on one’s interpretation and application of God’s Word as recorded in the Bible).
Significant is the very first word of this passage of Scripture: “Remember”- which, in the original Hebrew, meant “to bring to mind” or “to think about” - not simply a mental exercise but also with the INTENT of putting one’s thought(s) into practice.
With a built-in attitude of devotion to God – that has been cultivated over time - a godly person quite naturally thinks about or has brought to mind the concept of “sabbath” - not “seventh day” as some folks might have misunderstood the word to mean but - a day of (time of, season of, period of) “rest” (shabbat).
The “sabbath” - a state of restfulness - was instituted at creation by the Creator Himself, when God rested (ceased activity, took time to meditate, contemplate) on the seventh day after His six days of work (creative activity).
Jews always have observed and continue to observe a sabbath day on the seventh day (Saturday) since the Old Testament still is their sole source of authority. and, even though Christians observe a different sabbath day, we nonetheless take the concept as seriously as did our forefathers.
The seriousness and strictness which Jews attach(ed) to observance of a sabbath day is based on the seriousness which God attached to it by prescribing the death penalty as a punishment for not keeping the sabbath (day of rest) holy – Exodus 31:12-14 . . .
The practical effect of remembering the sabbath is to keep the day of rest “holy” - “sanctified” - “set aside” unto the Lord inasmuch as the Lord God is a holy God with high expectations for His people. Yes, God is tolerant, loving, kind, gentle, merciful toward His people – but - He demands compliance with His commands, and clearly establishes consequences for disobedience.
Those who deliberately deny and defy the Lord their God set themselves up for suffering consequences of not taking Him seriously . . . for having to face God’s wrath - whether in the here and now, in the hereafter, or both. Yet:
God in His love and mercy has provided a Way whereby we can be saved from His wrath against sin. Paul told us in his letter to the Romans to remember we have been justified (made right with God) by the blood of Christ which manifests to (effectively atones for the sins of) all who believe (all who accept) the grace of God.
However, he goes on to warn Christians that we are not to take God’s grace as an opportunity (as our chance) to test Him . . . . disobey Him . . . sin against Him.
Rather, we are to accept the obligations of that special relationship which we have with Him through His Son (the Messiah) and our Savior Jesus Christ!
The early Christians, most of whom were Jews, accepted those obligations seriously, although eventually not legalistically, with a few variations as to “how” but not as to “what”. You might say that The First Fellowship of Believers in Christ remained rigid in principle but became flexible in practice.
Many of them kept the seventh day as a sabbath, but since the resurrection of their Lord was the most blessed day in their lives, they began very early in their practice of the Christian faith to gather together on the first day of the week, and they designated Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
As time went by, the inevitable split between Jews and Christians widened, so that gradually most Christians - the world over - met for worship only on the Lord’s Day as they discontinued observance of the sabbath on the seventh day. Folks:
Since God ordained a sabbath and Jesus observed a sabbath, surely we as God’s children, committed to God’s Son, feel not guilt but gratitude for God our Father’s directive to observe a sabbath, and for Christ our Lord’s invitation to “come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest”!