They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you…. Exodus 16:29 NLT
Regardless of our personal stand on wedding rings or wedding watches for that matter, we all understand that in many cultures the wedding ring is a gift symbolizing a relationship. Men will pick out a ring that they hope their fiancés will appreciate and they usually pay a pretty penny for it.
Now both parties realize the ring is not the relationship itself but they cherish their rings because of what they represent. Now imagine if a wife told her husband she threw her ring away because, after all, she has him and no longer needs what the ring represents? Wouldn’t the husband be hurt that his gift was not appreciated?
Or take your nation’s flag. On April 25, 1976 The Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team were playing a home game against the visiting Chicago Cubs. While the Dodgers were up to bat, two men ran onto the outfield with a United States flag, and opened up a lighter. Rick Monday, the Cubs’ outfielder saw they were trying to burn the flag right there in front of the crowd. He ran and grabbed the flag away from the men before they could catch it on fire. He took the flag to the Dodger’s dugout while the entire crowd cheered for the opposing team’s outfielder who just saved the United States flag. The Dodgers even put a message on the board saluting the Cubs’ outfielder, “Rick Monday, you made a great play!” The crowd cherished and protected the flag because of what it represented. The flag is not our country; it is a piece of cloth, but we honor our flags because they represent our country.
Even though married couples have each other, they do not throw their wedding rings away. I even heard a pastor who was against wearing wedding rings counsel a couple who were no longer wearing their rings to keep them anyway. He counseled them to keep their rings in a special box. So please let’s not get sidetracked and miss my point here. The real marriage does not do away with the ring symbolizing the marriage. The real country does not do away with its flag symbolizing the country. Likewise God has given us the Sabbath as a gift. He gives us a weekly rest to remind us of His promise to save us by resting our faith in Him alone. He gives us the gift of not working that day to remind us that our works do not save us. God alone saves us.
Now I have heard people say that Jesus replaced the weekly Sabbath when He gave us spiritual rest. I have heard people say that in Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus gives us a spiritual rest, thus doing away with the Sabbath. However, throwing away the weekly Sabbath because we have a spiritual rest now would be the same thing as throwing away a wedding ring (or watch) because we now have the wedding, or going ahead and burning our nation’s flag because we now have a nation. People keep their rings and the marriage. People honor their nation’s flag and their country. Fact is that God’s people in the Old Testament had a spiritual rest and the weekly Sabbath just like in the New Testament. We have had the Sabbath ever since creation as an eternal sign of the rest we have always had in God in both the Old and New Testament. The Sabbath never saved anyone in the Old Testament or New Testament. We have always been saved by grace, and not by works, and the Sabbath is the everlasting sign and promise that we were created by God’s works and not our own, and that we were redeemed by God’s work on the cross and not our own in both the Old and New Testament.
Tell the people of Israel: ‘Be careful to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you from generation to generation. It is given so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy. You must keep the Sabbath day, for it is a holy day for you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the Lord. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death. The people of Israel must keep the Sabbath day by observing it from generation to generation. This is a covenant obligation for all time. It is a permanent sign of my covenant with the people of Israel. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he stopped working and was refreshed. Exodus 31:13-17 NLT
The Sabbath is a sign of God’s promise that He alone makes us holy. Our works don’t sanctify or make us holy. No work is to be done on the Sabbath to symbolize that God’s people understand they are not saved by their works. They are saved in the Old Testament as well as New Testament by resting their faith in God’s works and merits. The rest Jesus offered in Matthew 11:28-30 is the rest the people had in the Old Testament.
“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 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 oxen and donkeys and other livestock, and any foreigners living among you. All your male and female servants must rest as you do. Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the Lord your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day. Exodus 5:12-15 NLT
The weekly Sabbath was given as a sign in the Old Testament that their own works did not save them from slavery. God’s works saved them from slavery. In Egypt the Jews did all the work so Pharaoh could rest. God gave them the Sabbath as a gift to remind them He would do all the work so they could rest. In Eden the Sabbath was a sign for Adam and Eve to know that “It was God who made us and not we ourselves.” At Sinai the Sabbath was a sign that God worked out their salvation from Egyptian bondage and they did not save themselves.
Was the Sabbath rest an Old Testament sign for the Jews alone?
I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. Isaiah 56:6 NLT
The Sabbath is a sign that we are God’s people whether or not we are Jews or foreigners. The Sabbath was not given to the Jews as a sign they were Jews. It was given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. That same sign is given to the foreigners that they are God’s people. Old or New Testament, Jew or Gentile, the Sabbath is God’s eternal gift reminding us every week that we are saved by resting our faith in His promises of grace. Like a wedding ring, like a flag, the Sabbath is God’s gift symbolizing every week the rest we have in Him. We don’t throw wedding rings or wedding watches away because we have a marriage. We don’t burn flags because we have our country. Likewise we don’t throw the weekly Sabbath away because we have Jesus. The Sabbath is His gift reminding us of His amazing grace.
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