Summary: Encouragement for people to take a God-given sabbath rest.

Give It A Rest

Exodus 23:10-12

What advice can I give you for the New Year?

I pondered this as I anticipated this morning worship service.

What practical friendly pastor-like advice might I give that would be helpful and apply to pretty much our entire church as we look ahead to a New Year?

What might I say that could really make a difference in the quality of your faith and life and work and ministry this coming year?

I think I have something, but I’ll be painting in broad strokes so if it doesn’t apply to you then you can just pray for the rest of us because I believe it will apply to many here this morning.

This morning I would like to remind you of the importance of SABBATH REST, specifically the importance of taking one Sabbath day rest in seven.

This morning, as we look ahead into the New Year, I want to encourage you to give it a rest.

Please open your Bibles to EXODUS 23:10-12 (page 77)

For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and wild animals may eat what they leave; Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household and the alien as well, MAY BE REFRESHED.

Exodus 23:10-12

Now please turn to COLOSSIANS 2:13-17 (page 1166)

When you were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath Day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.’

Colossians 2:13-17

Let’s start with the Colossian’s passage.

Like many other institutions in the Old Testament, the Sabbath found its fulfillment in the person of Christ. That fulfillment is both present (Colossians 2:16-17) and future (Hebrews 3:7-4:11).

However, Christ’s fulfillment of the Sabbath does not render the fourth commandment of the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments UNWISE for Christians to apply today.

Colossians 2:16-17 affirms that the Sabbath is "a shadow of the things that were to come." In the broader context (Colossians 2:6-23), Paul confronted an ascetic attitude (spiritual progress resulted from the harsh treatment of our bodies) prevalent in the first century and argues for freedom from rigid regulations of self-mortification through our union with Christ.

Thus the Sabbath commands of the Old Testament must never be observed with an attitude of asceticism, but with one of freedom in the gospel of Christ.

Now let’s consider the wisdom of the OLD TESTAMENT Sabbath commands. You will notice that I read you Exodus chapter 23 instead of Exodus chapter twenty that lists the Ten Commandments. This is because as a covenantal obligation the fourth command to keep the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ who has instituted the New Covenant.

Under the Old Testament Mosaic covenant the believer was required to keep the circumcision laws and the Sabbath laws as a COVENANT SIGN that he was trusting and obeying YAHWEH.

Under Jesus’ New Testament covenant we keep the Lord’s Supper and baptism as the covenant sign that we are trusting and obeying the Lord God.

But the abolishment of the Old Covenant does NOT mean that there is no longer any PRACTICAL WISDOM in its commands.

That is why I want you to consider Exodus chapter 23 because it reveals the practical wisdom of SABBATH rest as part of specific Old Testament covenant responsibilities.

So lets read it again through the lens of practical wisdom filtering out the binding nature of what these commands represented for the Old Testament believer.

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household and the alien as well, MAY BE REFRESHED.

Exodus 23:12

After God created the earth in six creation days he rested.

Interestingly, in ancient Mesopotamian religion, in cultures that surrounded the Hebrews, their gods also rested following their acts of creation. However, they rested because people were created to do the work that the gods were tired of doing.

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