09 March 2011

A Survey of the Old Testament Law----- "Remember the Sabbath Day"

Just to kinda summarize what we’ve see these last few weeks, the name that God has revealed to us is YHVH—"I AM". Whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is righteous—He IS. It also refers to the fact that He is eternal—from eternity past to eternity future, He has no beginning, He will have no end. It’s not that He WAS and He WILL BE—although that is true. But, more correctly, He IS. We saw that Jesus was the manifestation of that Name here on earth. His name is not some magical incantation, but is the only name by which we are saved. We saw that when we use God’s name in taking an oath that we are bound by that oath, even to our own hurt. And if we discover down the road that making that promise will cost us something, God’s name and God’s reputation are greater to be defended than our reputation, and as Peter said, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully, when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. (1st Peter 2:19-20). So now we know what God means when He says “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Let me read for you from the Westminster Confession of Faith, written in 1646, which may very well be the greatest “Statement of Beliefs” ever written. This is what it says under the sections entitled “Of Lawful Oaths and Vows”:
  • II. [It is only by] the name of God…by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be [despised]…a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, [however,] …ought to be taken.
  • III. Whosoever taketh an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to [testify to] nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believeth so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform.
  • IV. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation. It can not oblige to sin; but in any thing not sinful, being taken, it binds to performance, although to a man’s own hurt: nor is it to be violated, although made to heretics or infidels.
  • VII. No man may vow to do any thing forbidden in the Word of God, or what would hinder any duty therein commanded, or which is not in his own power, and for the performance of which he hath no promise or ability from God.
This brings us now to the 4th Commandment, and the one which has been more hotly debated over the last 2000 years than any of the other 9. We find this command in Exodus 20:8-11--"8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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 male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." We’re going to save for later the discussion over whether or not we as Christians are to keep a Saturday Sabbath. Today, however, let’s look at the reason why God gave this commandment in the first place.

We find that reason in Exodus 20:11“For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” There are some in the church who try to take the Bible and make it fit into the Darwinian concept of Evolution, and the belief that the earth is “billions of years” old. They do not believe that the Bible is sufficient, in and of itself, stand up to “science”, as if the ideas of men are superior to the word of God. So rather than take the time and effort to defend the Scriptures against the enemies of God—the Darwinians—they mingle the two together, and what you come up with is about as close to heresy as one can get. In fact, what these people do is, for all intents and purposes, they call God a liar, because He says here that He took how long to create the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them? "Six days."

The Hebrew word for “day” is “yom.” If you ever hear the term “Yom Kippur”—that is the “Day of Atonement”. It is the word used here, and it is the word used in Genesis 1, when it says “The evening and morning was the first day…the second day…&c.” Thing is, the people who mingle Darwinism with the Bible, here’s their argument: they take 2nd Peter 3:8, which says with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Then they take the creation story found in Genesis 1, and they twist them together into a mashed-up pretzel and come up with this idea—that when the Bible says that God created in six days, that really means six “one-thousand year periods”, because with the Lord one day is as a thousand years…etc. But this is why God gave us a brain and logic. In Exodus 20:11, God says that “in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them,” correct? And “rested on the seventh day,” correct? According to verse 9, when were the people to labor and do all their work? “Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” And they were to rest when? “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.” HERE’S MY POINT: Does God tell Moses, “Six thousand years you shall labor, but take the next thousand years as a Sabbath?” No. He says, “In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth…and rested on the seventh day…six days you shall labor…but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God.” When the people of Israel heard Moses speak this word from God, saying that God created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them in six days, do you think anybody asked, “Well, did He mean six literal days, because ya know, the word ‘yom’ can simply mean a period of time. Let’s call a council and discuss this.” Nobody would be that foolish. When they heard this word, they understood, they knew that God was telling them that He created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them in six literal DAYS!! God made it as clear as He possibly could to the people, that the seven-day week was not simply “symbolic” of the creation process, but was in fact the exact amount of time that God created and rested. He created in six DAYS, He rested on the seventh DAY.

Now, the skeptic will ask this question: “So you think the earth looks exactly the same now as when it was crated?” This is actually a trick question. And one which is very easily rejected, because the answer is “No, we don’t believe the earth looks exactly the same as when it was created.” First of all, there was a world-wide flood. This flood changed the shape of pretty much the whole world. 2nd Peter 3:4-6Scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that existed then, perished, being flooded with water.

Then they will say, “So, why does the earth look older than it is? Did God make the earth look older just to trick us?” No, He simply created and “old” earth. Think of it this way: When God created the birds of the air, did He create eggs? Or birds? He made birds. When He created frogs, did He make tadpoles? Or frogs? He made frogs. When He made the fish in the sea, did He make fish eggs? Or fish? He made fish. When He made man, did God create a baby? Or did He create a full-grown man? He created a full-grown man! Now let’s apply this to the earth and the universe itself: God created a fully-functioning, fully-developed planet, and fully-developed stars and fully-developed planets and, consequently He created a fully-developed universe. That is why it looks “old.” And for the record, all this talk about “carbon dating” and “radiologic dating”—it is actually a faulty science. Because they are trying to measure “billions of years” with a stopwatch. The methods of radiological dating can only measure a few thousand years at best—and even then it’s a crap-shoot. Usain Bolt can run 100 meters in like 8 seconds. Does that mean he can run a mile in 2 minutes? That’s what they try to say when they measure the age of the earth using radiological dating. Basically. But, this is what we read in Romans 1:20-2220 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools. So, no, the earth does not look “exactly the same” as when it was created.
Another mistake the Darwinists make is this: they claim that lizards evolved into birds and that wolves evolved into whales. I'm not kidding! Here again, the “Theistic Evolutionist” runs into trouble, because if we read the Genesis account, birds were created before lizards and whales were created before wolves. Watch the order here. Genesis 1:20-23--20 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” 21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Now, notice something first—evening and morning were the fifth day; not “the morning and the evening were one day.” This is why the Jewish day begins at sunset. The Saturday Sabbath actually begins Friday at sundown. This will be crucial and will figure into things when we talk about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.) What do have in verse 21? On the fifth day, God created fish and birds. Let’s read on.

Genesis 1:24-25--24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So on the sixth day God creates the land animals. Day 5: fish and birds; Day 6: land animals. Therefore, lizards could not evolve into birds because—to show the foolishness of the whole “one day is a thousand years” argument—lizards could not become birds because birds came 1000 years before lizards. Wolves could not become whales because whales were created 1000 years before wolves. And the whole “monkeys-to-man” nonsense? Genesis 2:7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. Does it say that God “caused monkeys to turn into men”? No. It says that God formed man from the dust of the earth. Not only that, but consider this as well: Life begins at conception. If man evolved from monkeys, then that means the first “man” was born to a less-evolved being, and received life from that being. But what does the word of God say? That man received life from God Himself, man became a living being at what point? When God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. Man did not receive life until God gave it to him. If he was in the womb of his monkey-mother, he would have already been a living being. Period, paragraph, end of story.

One more thing: does the fact that God rested on the seventh day mean He got tired after all that work? Isaiah 40:28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. So why did He rest the seventh day? Because He was done! Just like the old saying, “Where do you always find what you're looking for? In the last place you look.” Because you don’t keep looking for something after you find it! Likewise, God had created, in those six days, everything He wanted to create. So He rested from His work of creating. He rested because He was done! The real question is not “How could He do all that in only six days”—the real question is “I wonder why He took so long?”

So, let’s bring this back to our passage in Exodus. God gave a command to Moses, Exodus 20:8-11--“8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 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 male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Because God worked 6 days to create the earth and the universe and He rested on the seventh, the people of Israel were to work for six days—Sunday through Friday—and rest on the seventh, or the Sabbath, which began at sundown on Friday and ran through all of Saturday, and ended at sunrise on Sunday morning. So, when the sun went down Friday evening, you put down your tools, you penned up your cattle, you shut down until sunrise on Sunday morning.

Here’s some bonus info for you, since we don’t have time to begin our next section. The Passover, no matter what day of the week it fell upon, was also a Sabbath. This is an important fact when we get to talking about the crucifixion of Christ. That particular year, the Passover fell on Friday, so Christ was crucified on Thursday—NOT FRIDAY! There are men whom I deeply respect and admire who still hold to a Friday crucifixion. Now, we are not going to be judged of God by our opinion of what day of the week Christ was crucified. And it’s not enough to break fellowship over. But, I would rather we be accurate about it.

How many days was Jesus in the tomb? Three. How many nights was He in the tomb? Three. On what morning did He rise? Sunday. So, let’s count backwards. When the women got to the tomb at sunrise,day was just breaking, and Jesus was already gone. He rose before sunrise, so we don’t count Sunday as one of the "three days." He was in the tomb Saturday night, Saturday day. Friday night, Friday day. How many days and nights is that? Two days and two nights. We have a problem with a Friday crucifixion. If we include Thursday night and Thursday day—guess what we have now? Three days, three nights. They had to take His body off the cross before sunset, or they would have been handling a dead body on a Sabbath--a big no-no by the Old Testament Law. Now follow me here. In John 19:30-3130 When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. 31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Deuteronomy 21:22-23“22 If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day.” We know that Jesus did not sin, but that God placed upon Him all the sins of all who would ever believe in Him. But what we see is this: that even in death, our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the Law, including the Sabbath, of which He said, “The Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Which will give us a good lead-in for next week when we discuss whether or not we are bound to observe the Saturday Sabbath.

Jesus is Lord. Amen.