Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27 NLT
I have always been told and even taught myself that the first four commandments tell us how to love God and the last six tell us how to love our family and neighbors. lately my eyes have been opened to the fact that the fourth commandment not only tells us how to love God but also how to love others.
but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. Exodus 20:10 NLT
The Sabbath embraces the spirit of loving God with all our heart as well as loving our neighbor as ourselves. In Exodus 16 the preparation day was brought to our attention as well as the Sabbath. No one was to gather and prepare food that day. By observing the Sabbath today we give all our family and servants the day off. We do not require anyone to work for us. The Sabbath was made for the needs of the people and not our needs only. Years ago the pastor in my church was studying with a lady who was a waitress at a local diner. When the pastor explained to her that the Bible teaches us to rest from work on the Sabbath she asked, “Well then who will serve all your members who come to eat at my restaurant after church?” The Sabbath commandment is clear that no one is to be working for us on the Sabbath, even the stranger, meaning those who may not even believe as we do. The grace that has been extended to us we shall extend to others. The rest that has been given to us has been given to all people.
Extending grace and rest to others has been something God’s people have struggled with. Yes even though we struggle we are still God’s people. Nehemiah addressed this issue in his day, and he calls the people he rebuked nobles. I am sure it is because he thought so highly of them that he gave them special instruction.
In those days I saw men of Judah treading out their winepresses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in grain, loading it on donkeys, and bringing their wine, grapes, figs, and all sorts of produce to Jerusalem to sell on the Sabbath. So I rebuked them for selling their produce on that day. Some men from Tyre, who lived in Jerusalem, were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise. They were selling it on the Sabbath to the people of Judah—and in Jerusalem at that! So I confronted the nobles of Judah. “Why are you profaning the Sabbath in this evil way?” I asked. “Wasn’t it just this sort of thing that your ancestors did that caused our God to bring all this trouble upon us and our city? Now you are bringing even more wrath upon Israel by permitting the Sabbath to be desecrated in this way!” Then I commanded that the gates of Jerusalem should be shut as darkness fell every Friday evening, not to be opened until the Sabbath ended. I sent some of my own servants to guard the gates so that no merchandise could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Nehemiah 13:15-19 NLT
I want to challenge us to be careful to guard our gates on the Sabbath and making sure even the foreigner or stranger is given rest. Do the donuts we bring to Sabbath School have to be picked up that morning to be hot and fresh? Could they actually be picked up on preparation day? I know Jesus’ disciples picked grain on the Sabbath but last time I checked donuts did not contain any grain or anything essential to our well being on the Sabbath. Plus the disciples were not buying or selling or causing anyone else to serve them. Could our fellowship dinners after church Sabbath be made a little simpler? Should other church members be slaving in the kitchen while we enjoy the sermon? I am not trying to be old school. I just want to be Biblical. I want to remember that the Sabbath is not just about God and myself. It is about God and all of His creation.
In Matthew 12:10-12 Jesus met some people who would rescue a lamb on the Sabbath because it affected their livelihood but had no compassion for a man in need of healing. They could not see beyond their own noses when it came to Sabbath keeping. Isaiah 58:1-14 teaches us that true Sabbath keeping and true worship on any day for that matter is to put self aside and care for others. The Sabbath teaches us to put God and others first. The Sabbath teaches us not only to love God but our family and neighbors as well, including strangers and foreigners. The Sabbath teaches us to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. In the KIV Isaiah 58:12 says we are to restore the breach. The Sabbath commandment restores a breach bridging the gap between loving God in the first three commandments and loving our neighbor in the last six commandments. The Sabbath commandment is right there in the middle telling us to love God and our neighbor.
You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.