Isaiah 58 – Together

Posted: September 20, 2011 in Isaiah 58

Pliny the Elder, was a Roman writer who lived during the same time period as Jesus. He told a story of the setting of an obelisk, which when erect would stand 99 feet tall. Twenty thousand workers where chosen to pull on the ropes and activate the hoisting apparatus. There was great responsibility and risk in the operation. Just one error could cause the obelisk to fall, ruining years of work. The King demanded one-act which insured the complete attention and best direction of the engineer. He ordered the engineer’s own son to be strapped to the apex of the obelisk, so that his heart as well as his head would be given to the task.

The scribes and Pharisees tried to legislate, in minute detail, all that was acceptable or unacceptable to do on the Sabbath. In doing so, they made the Sabbath a burden, something i don’t believe God ever intended 1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.. He gave the Sabbath with some specifics, but mainly by explaining it in broad, spiritual principles. This to me says that my Sabbath is to be all about my relationship with Him and out of a revelation of relationship of His love for me, i will have the correct response. That’s my summation in spite of not being done, so i’ll leave room for adjustment until completion.

What is God saying to me? To begin with God says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9). i am not unfamiliar with this verse. When i was younger i would apply for a job and if told i would have to work Sundays i would explain that i could not, but if hired i would work all the more on the other six days. i usually was hired, i usually worked even harder during the six days, and i that’s how i became a workaholic. God ordained the first six days of the week for my business and work. my Creator intended that i be busy and productive, earning my daily bread. In Proverbs 19:15, He says, “Laziness casts one into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger”. If i disregard my responsibilities the first six days of the week i am just as guilty of breaking God’s law as if i work on the seventh!

That brings me to the next portion in this word. “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates” (Exodus 20:10). So i am not to do any kind of real work on the Sabbath… be it my occupation, personal business, housework or any strenuous activity. Yes, i got all that out of those words. i am also responsible for those in the environment over which i have control to work as well. PAUSE…, preparing-or cleaning up after-a light meal would not be wrong as i understand it. There are a number of occasions when Jesus enjoyed a Sabbath meal with others. And He never condemned the practice of hospitality on the Sabbath (Luke 14:1-6).

But the temporary stopping of labor is not the only requirement God makes. He also gives positive instruction. In Moses’ recounting of the Ten Commandments, the fourth one begins by inviting us to “OBSERVE the Sabbath day, to KEEP IT HOLY” (Deuteronomy 5:12). We must look to God to tell us how to do that. Leviticus 23 lists “the feasts of the Lord [not the Jews], which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations.” God says, “These are MY feasts” (v. 2). The first one mentioned is the weekly Sabbath: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings” (v. 3). God then lists His seven other Feasts or Festivals, which contain seven annual Sabbaths. These days are also embraced by the spirit of the Sabbath commandment. So there it is, and i will defer studying those feasts for another time. The Sabbath is my focus for this season.

God’s Sabbaths-weekly and annual-are to be holy “convocations” and are, therefore, days commanded for worship services. When we fellowship with other people in whom God dwells, we are, in fact, also fellow-shipping with Him (1 John 1:3, 7). The New Testament states that we must make sure we are
“not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as [we] see the
[millennial Sabbath] Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). We must not forsake assembling on the days God has appointed for that purpose. The number required to be called assembly remains unclear to me yet, but it seems to me that it can be as few as one and as for how large… that’s a good question.

Finally, to really understand how God intended the Sabbath to be used, i go back to Isaiah 58: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight… not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,

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