Pasture on the Sabbath

Observing the Sabbath

    When I do preaching, I usually preach doctrinal truths.  However, when I do counseling, I try to make practical application of the Word.  I have composed another article called the "Day of Rest" which is more doctrinal in nature.  This article is not meant so much as to prove doctrine as it is to illustrate what a person should do on the Sabbath.  "Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (II Corinthians 3:6).

    When the Holy Spirit started teaching me about the Sabbath.  I began just to stop working on Sabbath (6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Saturday).  This was a big step for me, because Saturday was my catch up day.  I had tried to get all the unfinished projects done that day. Next, the Lord lead me to do some Bible study and pray on the Sabbath.  Then my pastor began a Sabbath worship service on Friday evening.  Still, I felt that something was missing.  I knew from Scripture some things not to do, but what was I to do on the Sabbath?  What did Jesus do as our example?  What did Paul do as an example for us?

I. Understanding the Sabbath.

 A.  The origin. The word "sabbath" means "to rest from labor".  Genesis 2:1-3 "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.   And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the  seventh day from all his work which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day,  and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."

Note: God established the Sabbath long before God gave the law to Moses.  You will also note that the Sabbath day was the only day that God blessed and sanctified.  Interestingly enough, the Sabbath was the ONLY day which God named.

B. The Day.  Exodus 20:9-11 "Six days shalt thou labour, 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."

Note: It is the seventh day of the week, Saturday, which God set aside.  Again, we understand that God counts a day from evening to evening.

C. The Commandment.   Exodus 20:8  "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

Note: We are to set the Sabbath apart from other days. One way that we do this is by not doing any work on the Sabbath or having others work for us.

D. Understanding the application of the Law.

1. The LAW is for our benefit!  The we are to keep the rules of the game so that we can win the game.   Deuteronomy 6:24  "And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day."  Furthermore, in the last book of the New Testament (Not the Old Testament) in the last chapter God says there is a blessing for keeping the commandments.   Revelation 22:14  "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."

2. We must understand that we are not saved by keeping the LAW.   Romans 3:20  "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin."  Romans 3:28  "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

3. Observing the Sabbath can build us up in the faith.  I Corinthians 10:23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."

II. How should we observe the Sabbath?
A. A brief look at the Old Testament.
Isaiah 58:6-14  "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.  Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;  And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday:  And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.  And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.  (13) If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: (14) Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

Note: Verses 13 and 14 are tied into the previous verses.  In one sense observing the Sabbath is "fasting" from the things of this world.

1. They were to observe fasting.  I am not saying that we have to fast physically on the Sabbath as a law, but it might be wise to fast as meal or so and use what we save to reach out to the needy.
a. To minister to the needs of the hungry and needy.
b. Then they themselves would receive the blessings of God as well as those who whom they ministered.   Luke 6:38  "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
2. They were to honor the Lord by ministering to others.  Matthew 25:45  "Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me."

3. They were to do what God wanted them to do.  Luke 9:23  "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

4. They were to minister God's Words.

a. Then God would lift them up in places of honor.
b. Then they were to receive the blessing of Jacob.  (He was rich).
B. Look through the eyes of Dr. Luke at what Jesus did on the Sabbath.
1. Luke 4:16-20  "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.  And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him."
Notes:  Jesus read aloud the Scriptures.  However, look at what he read.

a. He read about the anointing of the Spirit and then the purposes of the anointing.
b. He read about preaching the good news to the poor.
c. He read about healing the brokenhearted.
d. He read about deliverance to the captives.
e. He read about recovering of sight to the blind (physical and spiritual).
f. He read about setting free those who are emotionally bruised.
g. He read about the acceptable year of the Lord.

* Isn't it strange that he read from this passage on the Sabbath day.
* Maybe there is an anointing that follows the observance of the Sabbath.  However, what is the anointing for?  Isn't it to minister to others.
2.  Luke 4:21  "And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
This is the application in His life and in our lives.
3. Luke 4:31-39  "And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.  And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice,  Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not.  And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.   And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.  And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon's house. And Simon's wife's mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her. And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them."
Notes:  What did Jesus do on the Sabbath?????
a. He taught.
b. He delivered the man with an unclean spirit.
c. He went to Simon's house and healed his mother-in-law.
4. Luke 6:1-5 "And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands. And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days? And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;  How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?  And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."
a. Jesus discipled his disciples on the Sabbath.
b. He again taught on the Sabbath.
5. Luke 6:6-11 "And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.  Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?  And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.  And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus."
Notes:  Again what did Jesus do on the Sabbath?
a. He went to the synagogue and taught.
b. He healed a man with a withered hand.
c. He taught about doing good (ministering to those in need on the Sabbath).
d. He came under attack because of what he did and taught.
6. Luke 13:10-17 "And he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath.  And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.  And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.  And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.  And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.  The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?  And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?  And when he had said these things, all his adversaries were ashamed: and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him."
a. Jesus taught on the Sabbath.
b. He healed the woman with an infirmity.
c. He taught about ministering to those in need on the Sabbath.  Why? Why do it on the Sabbath? I believe to help the immediate needs of people, but also to set a pattern for the ministry other days.  I went to see my young granddaughter at a horseback riding show.  The teacher, a Christian, pointed out that the children taking lessons were also teaching the horses. She made the statement, "If a horse is not disciplined, he may end up as canned dog food."  The children also illustrated that they had to check the bridle and saddle even before they go on the horse to ride.  I believe that if we set aside the Sabbath to minister, we will be less likely to miss opportunities to minister during the week.
7.  Luke 13:18-21 "Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.  And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened."
Note:  He was teaching that ministering on the Sabbath causes a miraculous growth in the kingdom (also in church as well).
8. Luke 14:1-6 "And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.  And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.  And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?  And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?  And they could not answer him again to these things."
a. He fellowshipped with a leader of the Synagogue.
b. He taught about healing on the Sabbath.
9. Luke 14:7-11 "And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, then he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;  And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.  For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
a. It is important to see what Jesus taught about on the Sabbath.
b. He taught about laying aside our programs, works, and projects.
c. He taught about humility (placing the needs of others before yours).
11. Luke 14:12-14 "Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:  And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
*** He was teaching about ministering to the needy.
12. Luke 14:15-24 "And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.  And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.  And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.  And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.  So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.  And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper."
a. He taught them about witnessing on the Sabbath.
b. He may have even implied a distributing of food.
c. He taught specifically about ministry to the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind.
d. He said to go to the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.
B. Luke also wrote of how Paul observed the Sabbath.
1. Acts 13:14 "But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.  And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.  Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience."
a. Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.
b. He exhorted the people there by preaching from the Word.
2. vs. 27. He read from the Word.

3. v. 42. The gentiles asked him to preach the next Sabbath.

4. v. 44.  Almost the whole city came together to hear the preaching on the Sabbath.

5. Acts 16:13  "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.  And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us."

a. He had a prayer meeting.
b. He witnessed and baptized.
6. Acts 17:2.  He reasoned with them from the Scriptures.

7. Acts 18:4.  He reasoned with them from the Scriptures both Jews and Greeks.

III. Suggested applications.
A. We are not just to sit around and do nothing on the Sabbath.

B. We are to rest, but also follow the examples of Jesus and Paul.

C. Here are some practical suggestions:

1. Spend some time in prayer, maybe have a prayer meeting with others.

2. Spend some time reading the Word aloud and teaching it, maybe having a public worship service.

3. Spend some time in fellowshipping with other believers.

4. Find someone to disciple in the Lord and disciple them.

5. Fast a meal or so and use what you save by fasting in ministering to those in need.

6. Minister to those in the hospital or nursing homes.

7. Witness to the lost.

     While I was pastoring a small church in Northeast Texas, I went to the hospital to visit an elderly man and his wife while his wife was in the hospital.  I did little but sit and talk with him.  Sometime later, after she got out of the hospital, they both came to me to tell me how much it meant to them for me to visit them.  I felt like I did nothing, but to them it meant a lot.

     One day I found out that another person was in the hospital who I had not seen in years.  I went to see him and he brought to my mind about my visiting him in the hospital some forty years ago.  I had forgotten about visiting him, but it was important to him.

    I received a phone call one day from a friend that I had not seen or heard from in about forty years. He had looked up my phone number and called.  One reason he called was to thank me for reaching out to befriend him while he was stationed here while he was in the military service.

    I use these simple illustrations to say, that we may think little of our ministry to those in need, but it means a lot to others.  Amen.

 The Sabbath is a great day to honor the Lord by ministering to others that day.
Also see: The Day of Rest
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