Summary: What does the sabbath have to do with labor?

Thoughts about Labor:

¡ñ One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish.

About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach, trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family.

"You aren’t going to catch many fish that way," said the businessman to the fisherman, "you should be working rather than lying on the beach!"

The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, "And what will my reward be?"

"Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!" was the businessman’s answer.

"And then what will my reward be?" asked the fisherman, still smiling.

The businessman replied, "You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!"

"And then what will my reward be?" asked the fisherman again.

The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. "You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!" he said.

"And then what will my reward be?" repeated the fisherman.

The businessman was getting angry. "Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!"

Once again the fisherman asked, "And then what will my reward be?"

The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, "Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!"

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, "And what do you think I’m doing right now?"

This story illustrates an attitude that the world teaches us that we have to get all we can and can all we get. And yet, Jesus asks a hard question¡­.

¡°What profit good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?¡± (Mt 16:26)

We labor for things that perish, and God urges us to labor for things that last forever.

What is Labor

a. Labor is a vital element of human life.

i. Labor is what we put our creative energies into to achieve some sort of result

1. In the industrialized or the capitalistic world, we exchange our time, talents and energy for income.

2. In fact, employers pay us ¡°wages¡± which we EARN in exchange for our labor.


ii. The Book of Genesis says that in the beginning "there was not a man to till the ground" (Gen. 2:5). Having created the Garden of Eden, God put man in it "to work it and to take care of it" (Gen. 2:15).

iii. We don¡¯t do it only to eat and pay our bills

iv. We don¡¯t do it because we are not rich enough to pay someone else to do it.

v. We do it because it is a necessary and natural part of our life.

1. We were created to labor.

2. If we only had recreation, our recreation would become eventually become work.

3. Some of you might be saying¡­nah, if I could only retire¡­.

4. But I have talked with retirees who say they have never been busier¡­.

5. The problem that many people have about laboring isn¡¯t always about the concept of work, it is often about what kind of work they ¡°HAVE¡± to do.


b. Labor was meant to be for the creative fulfillment of man who was called to be a co-creator and co-worker of God as a result of being made in His image and likeness.

i. Recall my sermon a few weeks back on the Nature of Man: That we possess a Godly imprint that leaves its ¡°Creative mark¡± upon us. We are driven by it to be creative.

c. After man sinned in the Garden of Eden and fell away from his Creator, the nature of his labor changed:

i. "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, until you return to the ground" (Gen. 3:19).

ii. The creative component of labor weakened and became instead, a means of sustenance.

1. And for in much of the world, sustenance, just meeting the daily needs of life is what people labor to do.

iii. In America, we have achieved such a standard of living that few of us understand what it means to have to labor or else starve.

1. We may understand that it means if we lose our job we have fewer things to get by with, or we lose our home or our car; but seldom would we risk going hungry.

2. Our labor, then, becomes a part of our desire to ACCUMULATE or to purchase our DREAMS, or to be able to buy the things we love or want.

3. Our labor also has to do with our desire to be fulfilled.

a. We look for meaning in our work and few if any of us want to be paid to be unproductive.

4. Jennifer has a temporary job that has her sitting idly at a computer desk. She is bored to tears. It holds no promise for her. I am sure there are few of us who would enjoy such a job for which labor means idleness and unproductivity.


d. The Bible draws our attention to man¡¯s need to labor, and even sets a special rhythm for it.

i. The fourth commandment reads: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt you labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, not your maidservant, not your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates" (Ex. 20:8-10).

ii. We MUST labor ¨C

1. We were created to labor 6 days and rest one.

2. While in America, we labor 5 days (at a job) I guarantee we labor to keep what we got for another day (mowing the yard, painting, house cleaning, shopping, doing errands, etc

3. That is because labor is not just earning a living. It is about how we live and pursue life.

e. Labor ¨C Ecclesiastes 1 What profit has a man of all his labour?

i. A man¡¯s labor will still never supply the wants of the soul or satisfy all of his desires.

1. Labor will not atone for his sin, or will it cure his diseases or extend his life?

2. Recall the passage we read at the beginning of this message: ¡°What profit a man to gain the whole world? And lose his own soul?¡±

ii. Realize this¡­.Much of our labor on earth is temporary in its result, will be consumed and will be burnt up in the end.

1. Rev 14:13 says

2. Then I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "let them rest from their labors, for their works follow them!"

3. How is it that our works follow us?

a. Unless our works don¡¯t burn up?

b. And how can we ensure that our works follow us?

c. It is only possible if our labors are eternal in significance.

4. " Corinthians 3:11-15 ¡°For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is {to be} revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire¡±

a. What is silver, gold, precious stones? That which is eternal in nature. Only two things last forever, the word of God and the souls of man. Whatever you labor, whatever you do that advances and builds things for eternity lasts.

b. What is straw, stone, wood, stubble? It is those things we do for ourselves, selfishly, or ¡°for God¡± but really for us. They are the things we do that have no eternal significance¡­which we would be surprised to find out comprise a great deal of our lives.

iii. Eccl 2:22-24: For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest.

f. My years of Self-employment and ¡°satisfaction¡±

i. how you had desired it for your entire life to be successful and self employed, that it seemed that it held the greatest challenge and dream fulfillment.

ii. Yet once you had it¡¯s success, it was elusive.

iii. You grew to the largest of your size in Ft. Worth and yet you were no better off than when you had one part-time employee because the burden was bigger and greater.

iv. And then I went to my pastor and he shared that what I was experiencing was a sort of mid-life crisis.

v. Then I stopped to evaluate my life and found that my ladder was leaning on the wrong wall.

1. I wanted to be my own boss, and now had hundreds of bosses¡­every customer was my boss.

vi. I had a calling to pursue and was not doing it. I was chasing a dream, but the dream was my own, not God¡¯s.

vii. God was gracious and allowed me to experience my dream and to experience the lack of fulfillment that dream actually held. My work was ¡°grievious to me.¡±

viii. My self-employment came about as a result of being unemployed.

g. About that time our church had what was called, a ¡°Life Purpose Seminar¡± which dealt with life issues and answered the significant question, ¡°WHY AM I HERE?¡±

i. It was composed of a variety of topics, including what we will be addressing over the next 5 weeks when I begin my series on ¡°Discovering Your Shape.¡±

h. Labor is not a bad thing, but keep in mind it will NEVER SATISFY.

i. It is a means to living, it must not become our IDENTITY.

ii. It is sooooo easy to make our work our identity.

iii. We say¡­.I am a welder. I am a doctor.

1. No, what you do comes from who you are.

2. If you are a doctor (in your profession) and your life purpose is about healing, then that is your identity.

3. Why it is so devastating when people lose their jobs? Because their identity has become improperly intertwined with their labor.

iv. Your labor should not become your identity, rather your labor should flow from your identity.

This may seem like 2 sermons in one, but I cannot speak of labor without speaking of the Sabbath Rest that God created for man.

2. What is the Sabbath ¨C in the Old Testament?

a. The bible gives us the 4th commandment, which is the ONLY commandment from the 10 which has no parallel in the New Testament. It is the establishment of the Sabbath.

b. First and foremost, however, let me state that the Sabbath is a Sign between God and the Jewish people.

Exodus 31:15-17 ’For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath R791 of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever R792 does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death.

’So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’

"It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased {from labor,} and was refreshed."


i. The Sabbath is a sign of the Old Covenant.

ii. The sign of the new covenant is the Lord¡¯s Supper.

d. Does this mean the Sabbath is NOW without meaning?

i. No¡­it has special meaning to us as well as the Jews, but its meaning is different.

ii. Just as we no longer observe the law and the legalisms of the Old Testament, we do not DISREGARD them, because they were written for a reason.

iii. God made man with a need to rest and reflect and pause. And every command was written with our ¡°good¡± in mind.

1. Just as the Jews were required to wash before meals, to not eat pork, blood or certain animals¡­there was Godly wisdom behind these commands that have become evident only in the past century.

2. Sin is settling for less than God¡¯s best for you.

3. God wrote these commands not to impede us, but to help us. He is our designer and knows what we need and what is good and not good for us. Why not listen to His counsel and choose what is best for us?

3. First, lets look at the meaning to the Jews:

a. Jewish Sabbath thoughts:

i. The very idea of rest each week was unimaginable. The Greeks thought Jews were lazy because they insisted on having a "holiday" every seventh day

ii. the commandment in Deuteronomy the reason given for not doing any work on Sabbath is:

1. "Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God freed you from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day." [Deuteronomy 5:15

iii. Rather than being slaves to their daily work, they proclaim our freedom with Sabbath, putting the daily work aside, and treating themselves as free, taking care of themselves with prayer, study, relaxation, good food and visiting with family and friends

iv. But in a more general sense, Sabbath frees them from our weekday concerns, from their deadlines and schedules and commitments. During the week, they are slaves to their jobs, to our creditors, to our need to provide for themselves; on Sabbath, they are freed from these concerns, much as their ancestors were freed from slavery in Egypt.

v. Why Sabbath? It is our oasis in time, a day when we leave the rat race behind, ignoring business concerns, household tasks, e-mail and a myriad of other irritants of everyday life.

vi. If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken. . Isaiah 58:13-14

1. : Manna on the Sabbath: Exodus 16:14-29

When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. When the sons of Israel saw {it,} they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.

"This is what the LORD has commanded, ’Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’ "

The sons of Israel did so, and {some} gathered much and {some} little.

When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat.

Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it until morning."

But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.

Now on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, then he said to them, "This is what the LORD meant: Tomorrow is a sabbath observance, a holy sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning."

So they put it aside until morning, as Moses had ordered, and it did not become foul nor was there any worm in it.

Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. "Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, {the} sabbath, there will be none."

It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?

"See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day."

2. The Manna came and obeyed the Sabbath. It didn¡¯t spoil on the 7th day, even though it had been picked for two days.

3. The manna gave a calendar to the week, it designated what was the 7th day by not coming. It was a supernatural calendar.

4. To the Jews, the manna and the Sabbath were two supernatural gifts that set them apart from all of the nations of the earth.

5. The lesson for us here is that God can, does and will provide for all of your needs. Living is not about your labors. Living is not about our ability to provide or work. While labor is a natural part of our life, labor was prohibited on the Sabbath because very literally, God had provided.

6. The Sabbath is about God¡¯s provision.

a. The Sabbath is about Rest from Labor

b. ¡­and Rest In God¡¯s Provision.

4. New Testament implications:

a. On the 7th day, the bible says, ¡°God ceased from His work.¡± We translate that as rest.

b. Luke 6:1-5: In this and many other Gospel passages, Jesus was severely criticized by the Pharisees because he collected food and healed people on the Sabbath. Jesus observed the Sabbath, but criticized the Pharisees’ overly strict rules and regulations concerning the day of rest. He emphasized throughout his ministry a different purpose for the Sabbath: a day to be enjoyed by the believer, and a time when many normal activities were quite permissible

c. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. And He was saying to them, "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. "Luke 6:5

d. The New Testament does not anywhere make Sunday holy, neither does it make the Sabbath holy.

e. The emphasis had been taken away from the day and placed on Christ, making the observance of particular days no longer necessary.

f. Colossians 2:16-17 ¡°Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival or 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.¡±

i. The reality of the Sabbath rest is found in Jesus Christ. He embodies what we are called to do with the 4th Commandment. He takes the place of the day of the week and becomes the embodiment of the Sabbath.

g. Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the Sabbath and The Sabbath is no longer binding upon Christians.

i. Rather the Lord’s Day (Sunday) is a time when believers gather to commemorate His resurrection, which occurred on the first day of the week.

ii. This does not mean that one cannot keep the Sabbath if one wishes to, but it should be known that it is no longer mandatory or necessary for salvation, since we have been liberated from the Old Covenant by Christ’s work on our behalf and brought into a greater, more glorious covenant.

iii. A covenant that is not dependent on keeping days, rituals, or other symbols of the Old Covenant, but on faith in Jesus Christ and love for one another. I

1. those who enter into this New Covenant with God through belief in Jesus Christ are told to ignore those who judge them for not observing sabbaths (Colossians 2:16f). Furthermore, God approves the believer who "esteems every day alike" (Romans 14:5).

h. Every day to the believer is one of Sabbath rest, since we have ceased from our spiritual labor and are resting in the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 4:9-11).

i. Matthew 11:28-30

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

j. And this rest can be experienced every day in Jesus. He is our Sabbath rest now.


ii. Jesus has fulfilled all the work God required for the salvation of His people (John 19:30), and therefore rested from all His saving work.

iii. A person who emigrates to another country, or becomes a citizen of another country is no longer under the laws of their old country. If you move from England to the USA, you are no longer under the jurisdiction of England but of America. So too with the Christian and Jew. We are no longer under the legalisms of the law but under the ¡°law of Christ¡± which requires our lives are filled with His love and obedience to his commands. The strict obedience to the Sabbath is not required.

1. The Sabbath was the ¡°sign¡± of the covenant to the Jew.

2. The Lord¡¯s Supper is the sign of the covenant to the Christian

iv. Everyone who trusts in Him for salvation enters into His rest, and forevermore ceases working to obtain God’s blessings.

v. "There remains therefore a rest [or sabbath-keeping] for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. ) Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience (Hebrews 4:9-11. )

1. .

5. Sunday ¨C the Lord¡¯s Day ¨C Application

a. Recall Acts 2:42-46 in which it says that the early church met DAILY in homes to worship, break bread, study the word of God and pray? That is our process too. We must break with our culture and recognize that the Sabbath is no longer a day of the week but a PERSON. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is our Sabbath rest.

b. Christians are also encouraged to meet together regularly for the purpose of building up one another’s faith and hope. Receiving pastoral teaching is a key ingredient to spiritual growth

c. Because our culture makes Sunday our sole day of spiritual reflection, we should make Sunday not as a day to do as you please but to return to your center point ¨C that is Jesus. It should be a day that is spiritually focused. Sunday is nice because we do so much of that in a church setting, it formalizes that experience for us. Our Sunday must be PREPARED for and used for refreshment TOWARD God, not spent upon ourselves without a thought for its purpose

Actually, EVERY SINGLE DAY should be prepared and lived like such.

d. It is not longer a compulsory day of rest because observance of a day can no longer bring us into rest. Our Sabbath is Jesus. He is our Rest.

i. Our rest is to become CONTINUAL.

ii. Sundays become a marker stone in the process

1. but were never designed to be the once a week kind of experience of God that our modern church has made it to be.

e. Yet, a day of rest is still good for our souls.

i. And if we are serious about refreshment that is God given, we should try to understand that we need to make it a day of resting from our labors and to REFOCUS on heavenly realities.


f. Labor ¨C Wages; something you EARN. You cannot EARN your rest. You enter it by faith.

i. Romans 6:23 ¡°For the wages of Sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.¡±

ii. A gift is something that another pays for. Jesus paid for your eternal life with his own life. He paid the price of the gift. And he gives it freely to you. You cannot earn it. You can only receive it. You ¡°rest¡± in HIS labor. He is your Manna. He is provided for us. We don¡¯t work for it, we receive the gift that God provides.

iii. You and I cannot earn by our efforts or labors, our eternal life, or our position in heaven. Our lives produce one thing, that is sin and its wages are death.

iv. But Jesus, the only sinless one, did not earn death, he did not deserve it, yet he took it on our behalf.

v. We are called to enter into his rest. In who He is. Into what he has done.


1. Have you entered into the rest of Jesus or are you still trying to EARN God¡¯s favor by what you are doing. When you go face to face with God when you enter eternity, He isn¡¯t going to ask you how good you were, he is going to ask only if you received his free gift in Jesus. Won¡¯t you trust him today? You may not never get another chance. Today is the day of salvation. Trust Him today. He is calling you. Step out of your seat during our song and come forward, and I will pray with you to receive Jesus.

2. Have you been laboring for things that will not last? Don¡¯t you think it is time to check and see what wall your ladder is on¡­and move to working for Christ¡¯s eternal purposes? You can come and pray at the rails here as a physical expression of your decision to work for things that last and not for those things that will perish.

3. Perhaps you feel this church is the place where you wish to serve and grow. You can express that desire to become a part of our church family by coming forward and letting me know. We will be having a membership class called ¡°Discovering Hope¡± in October and you can be a part of that.

3. If you just need prayer, you may come and I will pray with you.

Stand and sing: