Summary: The Christians relationship to the observance of the Sabbath is examined.
THE LORD OF THE SABBATH
Introduction: Do you remember the old blue laws? When I was a child, most stores were closed on Sunday. If a store did happen to be open, like the old Lawson stores in our neighborhood were, many sections of that store would be covered over with sheets of cloth or paper to restrict or limit purchases to only necessities. Sundays were special. Sunday was viewed as equivalent to the Old Testament Jewish Sabbath Day. It was to be a day of rest and worship. In many homes, Sunday was observed with almost the same rigidity as the Pharisees forced upon the Jews. Today the pendulum has swung almost to the opposite extreme where not only in our society but also in many Christian homes there is almost no importance placed on the Lord's Day. There are some questions we should ask ourselves. (1) What was the purpose of the Sabbath? (2) Is the Christian commanded to observe the Sabbath? (3) Is the Lord's Day the Sabbath? (4) What should our attitude be toward the Lord's Day? To help us answer these questions let's look at Mark 2:23-28.
Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field of grain on the Sabbath in route to worship at the synagogue. The disciples were hungry and decided to pluck some of the grain. While the Old Testament law regarding the keeping of the Sabbath in no way prohibited picking a handful of grain to satisfy one's immediate hunger, the traditional law added many rules and regulations that were nothing more than man made traditions. These traditions were rigid concerning Sabbath observance. The Talmud, the book of Jewish traditions has 24 chapters listing various Sabbath laws. On the Sabbath, you could not travel more than 3,000 feet from your house. You were not allowed to carry anything that weighed more than a dried fig. You couldn't carry a needle for fear you might sew something. Taking a bath was forbidden. Water might splash on the floor and wash it. Women were not to look in a mirror; they might pull a gray hair. Having been observed by the Pharisees, the disciples were charged by the Pharisees with violating two of man's traditional Sabbath laws - plucking the grain and rubbing them in their hands. Christ addresses the charges levied by the Pharisees by stating that...
I. The Sabbath was not meant to restrict necessities (verse 25-26)
A. David in fleeing from Saul (I Samuel 21:1-6) took five loaves of the showbread that was to be eaten only by the priests and gave them to his men.
B. The man of God, David was justified in breaking the ceremonial law because his need for sustenance was greater than keeping the ceremonial law. (He broke the ceremonial law not to indulge a lust but to meet a genuine need)
C. Meeting true human need and compassion takes precedence over custom, ritual, ceremony and tradition.
D. Hosea 6:6 "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
II. The Sabbath was made to serve man not man serve the day. (verse 27)
A. The extreme warping of the original intent of the Sabbath by tradition is seen in history when Antiochus Epiphanes massacred a group of Jews under the command of Judas Maccabaeus as the Jews refused to defend themselves on the Sabbath.
B. Sabbath - transliteration of Shabath - to cease or desist - hence rest or cessation from labor.
C. Exodus 20:9-11 "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day. Wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
D. In Deuteronomy 5:12-15) the Lord reminds His people that they had been slaves in Egypt and that He had brought them out from there. In commanding them to observe the Sabbath, the weekly rest would remind them of a time when as slaves they were unable to rest. The association between Israel's slavery in Egypt and the Sabbath is restated in Ezekiel 20:5-12.
E. Two of the greatest needs of man are for rest and worship - neither, of which Israel was free to do in Egypt.
F. Leonardo Da Vinci - Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment