Come Join Us In Remembering What The World Has Forgotten.....  The Seventh Day Sabbath!

Two Treasures
Sabbath And Family

Sabbath Sentinel
Nov 2017

For Christians, Jesus is the pearl of great price! Because He has given Himself for our everlasting good, we willingly give our all to know Him and to experience the supreme value He is.

Trusting and obeying Christ according to His Word, we soon discover that He brings with Him other jewels less precious than Himself but still highly valuable. In this article we will consider two of the Lord’s treasures — different in some respects, yet having so much in common. 

The first is the Sabbath.

The Sabbath rests

This gem of our heritage in Christ rests firmly on three pillars of biblical bedrock. First, the account of a completed cosmos takes the weekly Sabbath all the way back to the beginning when God created the heavens, the earth, and all things therein (Genesis 1:1; 2:1-3). After six days of work, God rested the seventh day, making it the first holy thing in all creation. We should treasure God’s Sabbath, in part, because it is as old as the universe and has the same Source.

Second, the ten words spoken by God’s voice and written with His finger at Mt. Sinai place Sabbath at the heart of His spiritual law (Exodus 20:8-11).

Christians are not obligated to all the Sinaitic covenant, of course; but these commands are distinguished from the balance of that covenant for some purposes and remain as the Bible’s best summary of moral law prior to Christ. We may treasure the Sabbath because an unchanging God valued it enough to speak and write it in the lofty company of the Decalogue.

The third pillar on which the Sabbath rests is the teaching and example of Jesus and His apostles in the New Testament. Jesus’ own custom was to attend public worship every Sabbath day (Luke 4:16), and the apostles maintained their Master’sexample (Acts 13:14, 42-44; 17:2; 18:4). Jesus’ saying that “the Sabbath was made for man” assigns it as a universal good under His lordship (Mark 2:27, 28). He taught the disciples to do nothing on Sabbath but what was lawful (Matthew 12:12), and He instructed them that Sabbath should be prayerfully regarded 40 years after His death (Matthew 24:20).

It is this third point with which many believers have  difficulty or disagree outright. Some have decided not to “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” 

because, say they, this commandment is not a part of the new covenant. Instead, they set forth a few texts as evidence against the Sabbath (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16) and others that suggest church meetings on another day (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

Standing on a handful of such New Testament texts,some Christians no longer find any treasure in the Sabbath.

This evidence, however, is not very convincing in the case for abandoning the seventh-day Sabbath. A more compelling case can be made that Jesus came not to destroy the Sabbath but to fill it full of meaning by reforming it. All four Gospels tell of Jesus’ opposition from the Jews in a “great Sabbath controversy” (see box) Matthew 12:1-13; Mark 2:23—3:6; Luke 6:1-11; John 5:1-18). 

In these sections, Jesus confronts the Pharisees, not the Sabbath. He criticizes those who make the Sabbath “good for nothing” by their own customs, rather than use the time for deeds of mercy and truth — all lawful. In none of these polemic passages does Jesus speak of  brogating Sabbath. Rather, He rescues the Sabbath and elevates it from the misuse to which Jewish oral tradition had subjected it.

Just as one does not cleanse or refurbish any buildinghe intends for quick destruction, so Jesus didnot reform the Sabbath only to delete it by His death and resurrection. Although it was said of Him that He broke the Sabbath (John 5:18), Christ denied the charge: “I have kept my Father’s commandments” (John 15:10).

The Creation account, the moral law, and the teaching and example of Christ provide three strong witnesses: There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9) — a treasure, indeed!

Likewise, the family A second gem in our spiritual heritage is marriageand the family. It, too, finds endorsement in the same three sections of Scripture cited thus far.

The second chapter of Genesis, which gave us themold for the universal Sabbath, also provides the pattern for the family from Creation: one man and one woman joined in marriage, having and holding each other for dear life, unclothed and unashamed as husband and wife, being fruitful and raising children unto the Lord (Genesis 2:18-25). Like Sabbath, marriage is anchored in God’s original plan — one that, though often maligned, has never been proved.

Learn to treasure your spouse and family now more than ever. It’s part of God’s first and finest plan.

And like Sabbath, the family is centered in the Decalogue, God’s great moral law for ancient Israel. Asthe fourth commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day”) hinges the first table of the law, so the fifth command (“Honor your father and mother”) hinges the second. Just as those who remember Sabbath are more likely to put God first, to reject idols, and to reverence His name (commandments 1, 2, and 3), so those who honor parents have a gigantic head start in respecting the life, the purity, the property and the reputation of other people  (commandments 6-10).

The fourth and the fifth are the only two of the Ten Commandments that begin any other way than “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not.” 

Centerpieces of the Decalogue, they are designed to protect and preserve society’s two best institutions: the church and the home. Now we must examine the third pillar for our marriage-and-family treasure: the new covenant. Did Jesus and the apostles endorse the view of the home presented at Creation and in the Decalogue? Yes, of course; but not without a few difficulties.

Jesus: enemy of the home?

Remember how the Sabbath skeptics argue from some problem texts in the New Testament to justifytheir forgetting the seventh day? We find problem texts regarding the family as well.

When Christ was told in one place that His mother and brothers had come to see Him, He replied that those who heard the word of God and did it were His true family (Luke 8:19-21). This answer, taken alone, can be seen as a statement of indifference — even abandonment — on the part of Jesus toward His earthly father, mother, and brothers.

Later, a man told Jesus he would follow Him after caring for his dying father. Jesus’ answer in this incident also appears to show small regard for earthly family ties: “Let the dead bury their dead . . .” (9:59, 60).

Again, Jesus announced that He came not to bring peace on earth but division: “For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father; daughter against mother and mother against daughter . . .” (12:51-53). 

Does Christ really mean to explode the relations that constitute some of our most valuable earthly treasure?

His words can be read in that light. In the strongest words of all, Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters . . ., he cannot be My disciple” (14:33).

If we’re looking for biblical reasons to separate what God has joined in marriage or to dishonor ourparents in opposition to the command, we surely have found them in these texts. My point is that if we may disregard the fourth command of the Decalogue because of difficult texts in the New Testament, then we may also disregard the fifth commandfor the same reason.

Let’s say it again: If a few scattered texts in the New Testament (Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5; and Colossians2:16) can be misused to erase the Sabbath, then Luke’s four sayings of Christ are surely sufficient to delete home and family. If Jesus abolished the Sabbath of Creation and of moral law, then He also destroyed the family of earliest humanity and morality!

Not to destroy, but to fulfill..

 The truth is that Christ came to delete neither the fourth nor the fifth commandments but to reform and magnify them both. Just as Jesus reformed the Sabbath from religious tradition (Matthew 12:1-13), so He rescued the fifth commandment from the same fate.

While religious leaders had found a way to sidestep duty to aged parents, Jesus denounced them as hypocrites for putting “spiritual” work ahead of honoring their parents according to God’s command inthe Decalogue (15:1-9). Christ finished His family reform by saying that those who “teach as doctrines the commandments of men” worship God in vain (v. 9). The implication of this is clear: Christ’s disciples will teach for doctrines the commandments of God!

It is as easy to harmonize the teaching of Jesus and the apostles with “Remember the Sabbath day” as itis to reconcile the words of Jesus with “Honor your father and mother.”

In reforming both the Sabbath and the home, Jesus exercised His role as the Word — God’s final and greatest spokesman. In Him the ancient written code comes to life in the person of the Writer, who came to give Himself for the sins of those who believe.

In Christ, the truth of God’s holiness is perfectly joined with the grace of His love!

The Sabbath and our families: two of God’s commandments with their roots in Creation and two jewels of our spiritual heritage in Christ.

Calvin Burrell