Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] You know, I got things I have to do in my life and things I need to accomplish and things are sort of out of control. Well, if you don't have time now for God, when will you? If you don't have time now to let Jesus be the Lord of your life, by being the Lord of the Sabbath you're never going to have the time. That's just the reality. There's no better time than right now to respond to God and spend wholly time with him.
[Narrator] Join our presenters from the United Church of God as we bring you help for today and hope for tomorrow, directly from your Bible here on Beyond Today.
[Gary Petty] Today we're going to discover something about Jesus that few Christians actually know. You know, the basis of Christianity is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who opened the door so that we can have a relationship with God, the Father. But there's another gift He wants to give you that can help you discover a more meaningful relationship with God, and we're going to explore this gift on today's program. Now, as we have throughout the series about the Unknown Jesus, let's go back to the time when Jesus walked the earth and lived in the culture of first century Judaism. Life of Judea was centered around the temple and the Sabbath day. Observing the seventh day Sabbath was one of the 10 commandments given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai. It was just as important in the Jewish world as the commandment not to create idols, to not steal.
The seventh day Sabbath was seen as a covenant signed between God and His people. And that was very important. Hundreds of years before the time of Jesus, around 586 BC, the Babylonians invaded Judea and destroyed them as a nation. Decades later, Jewish exiles began to return to their homeland and they were determined to obey God so that He would never again take away His protection and blessings on them. This was really important.
They had gone into captivity and when their children and grandchildren came back, no, that's never going to happen again. And they collected oral traditions so they could, and it was called, Build a Hedge. They were going to protect the law in order to protect God's instructions and that way they would obey God. You see, if a person dedicated every day to these traditions it would mean it would be very difficult for them to break any of the 613 commandments in Torah because they kept the traditions. And pious Jews, Sabbath observance was controlled by a large number of these regulations. But you know, in spite of their good intentions these religious regulations changed God's intent for the Sabbath.
During the early life of Jesus there were two important schools of religious teaching, the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai. And they engaged in all kinds of disputes on minute issues. Like whether a person could send a letter on Thursday or Friday or Wednesday even, because it may still be in the postal service, whatever it was called at that time, on the Sabbath. The debates included whether a woman was forbidden to look into a mirror on the Sabbath because she might see a gray hair or a stray hair and she might pull it out. And that was breaking the Sabbath. There were dozens of these things.
One of my favorite is that it was determined that if you were eating radish, a radish, you could dip it in salt for just a very short period of time. Because if you kept it there, the pickling process started and that was work. The gospels tell the story of Jesus as someone who observed the Sabbath in accordance with the 10 Commandments in that Jewish society. Yet He was, at times, accused of being a Sabbath breaker by some who were obsessed with these oral traditions. We're going to look at an example of a Sabbath conflict between Jesus and some of the Pharisees. One day Jesus walked into a synagogue on the Sabbath day to worship God. This was His custom.
This is what He did, this is how He lived life. And a group of Pharisees were watching Him because they wanted to accuse Him of being a Sabbath breaker. Now, among the worshipers that were there in the synagogue was a man with a withered hand. And Jesus spoke to him and then Jesus actually calls him over to talk to him. So I'm going to pick up this story here. It's in the gospel of Mark. So He goes in, He asks this man to step forward and he does. And then it says He says to them, okay? So He tells the man to step forward, and then He talks to these religious leaders who are there. He says, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?" It says they were silent.
You know, they were always discussing and arguing over what you could or cannot do on the Sabbath. And in Matthew's account of this incident, we find that Jesus engaged them in a common Sabbath debate, that this was a common debate at the time. Because Matthew adds that Jesus said, "If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable was a person than the sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath."
Now I want you to notice something here. Notice the importance of this story. Jesus isn't just saying that the Sabbath, the concept of holy time, isn't important. He's actually defending the Sabbath. His argument with the Pharisees at about what is proper use of holy time. And the Pharisees were not able to dispute, yes, you should do good on the Sabbath so it would be okay to heal this person. Their interpretation of Sabbath allowed by the way, the Pharisees interpretation the saving of animals on the Sabbath.
So He has trapped them with their own argument. Here was Jesus' reaction to them, "And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts He said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' And he stretched it out and his hand was restored as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Jesus how they might destroy Him." Now I have to admit something here and I want you to think about this, okay? Jesus says something that's the opposite of what most of us would've done. I mean, think about it. If you had that kind of power and you looked at the hard heart of these people maybe you would've said to the Pharisees, "Stretch out your hands!” And then you would've withered their hands.
I've thought about that before. But Jesus doesn't do what we would do, right? He doesn't do anything against them. He does good on the Sabbath. See, Jesus is teaching that is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. He is not teaching against the Sabbath of the 10 Commandments, but against the Pharisees interpretations of the Sabbath. In another situation, Jesus is confronted with an accusation of Sabbath breaking and makes a remarkable statement about Himself in this discussion and this is what I really want to zero in on today. This statement is important to you if you say Jesus is your Lord. Okay? Because we're going to talk about your relationship with Jesus Christ and what He says.
In this story, Jesus and His disciples are walking through a grain field on the Sabbath day and they're picking some grain and they're eating it, okay? And here's what it says. "Now it happened," this is also in Mark, "that He went through the grain fields on the Sabbath day. As He went, His disciples began to pick heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him, 'Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?'" See, picking grain and cooking food was considered unlawful Sabbath work.
But you notice the disciples aren't engaged in hours of slaving over a hot stove. They're simply walking through a field and picking a little grain and eating it. Jesus gives Him an Old Testament example to make His point. And then He says this, okay listen to this. He said, "The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the son of man is also the Lord of the Sabbath.” Now, I want you to read this.
At home, if you're watching, I want you to read this. This is as important. "The Sabbath was made for man," this is Jesus, "and not man for the Sabbath, therefore the son of man,” He as the Messiah, "is also Lord of the Sabbath." What does Jesus mean when He says “the Lord of the Sabbath?” I mean it's difficult for us in the 21st century to fully understand the tidal wave of confrontation this created between Jesus and the religious leaders. Not only does Jesus claim to have the authority to proclaim the purpose for the Sabbath, but as the Son of man, or the Messiah, He is the one who determines what are the lawful and unlawful activities of the Sabbath. He's the Lord of the Sabbath.
Now, to really understand Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath, we have to go back to creation. We have to go back to another point in time. The Book of Genesis claims that God created the heavens and earth in six days. And Genesis says that God ended His work and rested on the seventh day, but the seventh day was given purpose because God says here's what it says in Genesis, "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." That's another point we have to put in our mind as we think through this. "Then God blessed the seventh day and he sanctified it." He made it holy. That's what sanctification and that's what sanctified means. He made it holy.
So God, at the very beginning when He's creating things, He specifically blessed the seventh day and set it aside for His purposes. In other words, God created the universe, everything in it, all the plants and the animals, the planets, human beings. And then He created at the end of all that holy time. That's a concept we don't think about in our society. It's just foreign to us. You know when the 10 commandments were first given to Moses in the fourth commandment it says this, okay, because listen to this because it ties this back into the to Genesis, creation.
It says, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens of the earth," this is the 10, one of the 10 commandments, "and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." That's part of the 10 commandments. The seventh day as blessed by God as holy time though wasn't created at Mount Sinai. It was created at creation. It isn't just for the Jews it is inseparable from the concept of the biblical creator, God. It is an integral part of His creation.
And Jesus didn't teach His followers that God had removed His blessing and sanctification from the seventh day. What He said was that He was the Lord. He is the Master. That's what Lord means, of the Sabbath. That's what He taught. How is Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath? I mean He said it, right? It must be important for His followers to understand what He meant. Well the Apostle Paul helps explain how Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. He wrote a letter to the church in Colossians.
We're going to look at that. And he's talking about Jesus Christ. He says, "For by Him," Jesus, "For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him for He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Now think about this. God the Father created all things through Jesus Christ. All things, and all things, they consist.
That means they're upheld, He created them, they exist and they continue to exist through Jesus Christ. Think about what that means. He created all things through Him, including the angels. So Genesis says what? That God created all things, including the seventh day Sabbath. Paul tells us that God created all things through the one that we know as Jesus the Messiah. That means it was Jesus who created, blessed, and sanctified the Sabbath as holy time. The Father did it through Jesus. And this is why He can claim to be the Lord of the Sabbath and not be mocking God, the Father. Because God created it through Him.
Now that puts the Sabbath in a totally different light. It’s part of the creation, and it was created by the Father through Christ. Christ came and said, "I'm the Master of the Sabbath, created it." When you call Jesus Lord, then this statement that He is Lord of the Sabbath is really important. I mean Christians we claim what, He's our Lord all the time, don't we? I mean it was made by God, the Sabbath was, through Jesus Christ at creation. It's one of the 10 commandments.
And during His earthly ministry, Jesus defended the reality that the seventh day is blessed and holy time. And you know something, there are remarkable benefits for your life when you observe the seventh day Sabbath day as holy time. It means dedicating one day a week for spiritual and physical rest. It's a time for special worship and praise of God in Christ. It is a time to remove yourself from the cares and burdens of daily life and a time to share God's blessing with family and friends. It's a gift from God that Jesus came to give you and declare that He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
Now this brings us to something else because sometimes you will hear people talk about the Jewish Sabbath and that it's different than the Christian day of worship and that the seventh day of the week has no real meaning for Christians today. Now let's go back, we got to remember this. The Sabbath was created by God through Jesus Christ before there were any distinctions between Jews and Gentiles, there was no distinction in those peoples when He created it. They weren't, Abraham wasn't around yet. There were no Jews around yet, there were no Israelites around yet. He created it for everybody.
Now, what did the earliest of followers of Jesus, what did they do as a day of worship? Most of the first Christians were Jews but Jesus told them to take His message and spread it throughout the world. And His disciples went throughout the Roman empire preaching the gospel. And you know where they found the most fertile ground when they started teaching? It was in the Jewish synagogue. Okay? On one Sabbath the apostle Paul entered a synagogue. It was in Antioch of Pisidia, which is in modern day Turkey. And he preached about Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. And he told them that Jesus is the Messiah.
And so he did the services and there were people there, Jews, I want to say something else, there were other people there. And this is what happened after he did the service. It says, "So when the Jews," this is from the Book of Acts. "so when the Jews went out from the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." Now who are these Gentiles? This just means non-Jews. Were they pagans who just happened to be walking along and heard this guy talking and the synagogue and waited outside to see what he was talking about? No, these were non-Jews had converted to Judaism. They were in the synagogue with the Jews observing the Sabbath.
And you'll find that throughout the book of Acts. They're called God-fearers and proselytes all through the Book of Acts. Then this is what happened. "Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes,” proselytes because they weren't Jews they were non-Jews who now were worshiping God, the God of the Bible, "they followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." So these people, Jews and non-Jews, were burning with a desire to understand Jesus Christ. What did he just teach them? He taught them from the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and that Jesus was the Messiah.
They wanted to know about God and they wanted to know about his Messiah and they wanted to know about the purpose that God had in their lives. It says, “and on the next day, almost the whole city came out to hear the word of God.” The God fearers and the proselytes went out and told all their pagan friends and they showed up the next Sabbath in droves to hear Paul's message. And here we have one of the first great examples of non-Jews responding to the gospel and this is on the Sabbath day. This is where the Gentiles were introduced to Jesus all through the first couple years that we find that gospel being preached. It was on the Sabbath day. Happened to be in the synagogue.
Now, they were later kicked out of the synagogue. But you'll see that they continue to keep the Sabbath. Now later, this Paul is still talking to these gentiles after they come back the second Sabbath. He says, "For so the Lord has commanded us: I have set you as a light to the Gentiles that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth." It's actually a prophecy. "Now, when the Gentiles heard this, there were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” And the word of the Lord was being spread, this passage concludes with, throughout all the region. The Book of Acts contains numerous accounts of non-Jews responding to the gospel and observing the Seventh Day Sabbath.
But let me ask you this, why create a special day of holy time? God transcends time and space, right? He sure doesn't need a Sabbath. But you and I, we are bound by time and space. Now we can pray and connect with God at any time and in any place, but we need more than that. And what this is, the seventh day Sabbath? Understand it is an appointment with God that He's making with you to spend holy time with Him. That's remarkable. That's remarkable.
And Jesus said, "Yeah, I'm the Lord of the Sabbath. I made it for you." You know, there are very practical reasons why the Sabbath is relevant to Christians, because we do exist in time and space, don't we? It is a day, it says in the scripture, of physical, emotional and spiritual rest. Physical, emotional, and spiritual rest are human needs. To ignore those needs is to sow the seeds of illness and depression and broken relationships and spiritual lethargy.
Can you imagine, just imagine a day devoted to rest. I mean no business calls, no painting the house, no shopping. Imagine a day with extra time for prayer and worship. Imagine a day with extra time to share with your family. With no deadlines, no pressing appointments. Imagine a day that you can shut out all the noise, you can shut out all the violence, the preoccupation with making money and experience peace with God. Now you might be saying, "Oh yeah, that sounds nice, and I'd like to do that someday, but right now, you know, I got things I have to do in my life and things I need to accomplish and things are sort of out of control."
Well, if you don't have time now for God, when will you? If you don't have time now to let Jesus be the Lord of your life, by being the Lord of the Sabbath, you're never going to have the time. That's just the reality because it doesn't matter what your responsibilities are or how chaos, how much chaos there is in your life. There's no better time than right now to respond to God and spend holy time with him. So what have we discovered today about the Unknown Jesus? Well, let's look at a few things.
One, Jesus revealed himself as Lord of the Sabbath. He set us an example by observing the Sabbath and taught us how to keep it. According to the Bible, the Sabbath was created by God as part of creation. And that one I really want to stress. That's really important. It was created as holy time, you know, and one of the 10 commandments is to observe the seventh day. It's a blessed and holy time. But remember, the Sabbath was created before there were any people known as Jews. It's God's blessing for humanity. It's His blessing for everyone. According to the Apostle Paul, God created all things through Jesus.
This means that Jesus created the Sabbath day, blessed it, and made it holy. He is really the Lord of the Sabbath in absolute reality. And Jesus never told His followers that He had abolished the Sabbath, what He taught them was how they were supposed to keep it. So if you find this interesting and you want to learn more about God's gift of the Sabbath, you need to get your free copy of "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest" on beyondtoday.tv. Just go there. You can order a copy or you can read it online and you will find that this fascinating overview of the biblical concept of the seventh day Sabbath will help you understand what Jesus is saying as the Lord of the Sabbath.
And you will read in the Bible how the Sabbath was created at the beginning of the physical creation as holy time, not just for physical descendants of Abraham. Because there weren't any physical descendants of Abraham. For humanity. You'll discover why this day is so important that it's included in 10 Commandments and how Jesus supported this day, the Sabbath day, and how the earliest Christians observed the seventh day Sabbath.
Now you may ask some questions because you've been told maybe Christians shouldn't keep the Sabbath. Well, this study guide also examines the few New Testament passages commonly used to teach that Jesus doesn't expect His followers to keep the Sabbath. So this will cover that information. That's why you need to get this. Go to beyondtoday.tv. This is important if you want to understand Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus as the Lord of your life. And get this, when Jesus returns, He's going to establish the Sabbath as a universal day of worship. Says that in scripture.
You need to get your free copy by calling the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv where you can find all kinds of videos on these kinds of subjects or download your own free copy. Are you missing out on a blessing from God? A blessing of holy time? A time for renewal from God Himself, a time for rest and peace and sharing that blessing then with others. Today you met Jesus as the Lord of the Sabbath. In this series, we continue to explore “The Unknown Jesus.” Go to beyondtoday.tv where you can watch all the programs in this series and join us next time on Beyond Today as we continue our series on “The Unknown Jesus.”
[Narrator] Call now to get the free booklet offered on today's program, "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest." Our lives today move at a frantic pace. Do you sometimes feel out of touch with your spouse, your children, your friends, even your Creator? God knows you need a break. He created a special weekly appointment for your benefit. He even made it one of the 10 Commandments. But how do we keep it? This free study aid, "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest" shows you how. God tied the Seventh Day Sabbath into creation itself as a part of His eternal law. Order now, call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen.
The Bible foretells a coming age when all people will reap the benefits of the Sabbath. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to our Beyond Today Magazine. Six times a year you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy and Godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, "Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest", and your free one year subscription to Beyond Today Magazine. 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you are looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.