The Sabbath Issue

Chapter 12: The Principles of Time - Part 3

Here Jesus clearly says that fasting is still part of God’s will for our lives during the Church Age, while He (the Bridegroom is away). But New Covenant Fasting will need new more flexible wineskins (structures), since the old wineskins of the Old Covenant are not suitable to contain the new wine (life) of the Spirit. Thus the principle (of fasting) remains, even after being detached from the Law.

Although we are not under the Jewish Sabbath Law, we can still learn Principles of wisdom from what God taught Israel about the Sabbath. It is a day for natural rest, and also for renewed spiritual focus and refreshment, including family fellowship time together (praying, talking, playing), to build family unity. Our bodies and souls need regular natural rest (both daily and weekly) if they are to function at their best (that’s the way God made us), AND we also need spiritual refreshment. We need a day of natural rest to help us enter into God’s spiritual Rest. That is, we are not just to rest from our works, but to use that time of natural rest to receive God’s REST, through meditating on God’s Grace. It works best as a day of rest unto the Lord, not just as a day of rest. As all days, it belongs to God, so we should first of all dedicate it to God. It is not just about not dedicating it to our own works, but giving it to God. 

Taking a day off is how we were made to function (it is not a luxury). It enables us to see the big picture, get perspective and assess and change our priorities. It helps us to see things from God’s viewpoint. It gives us time to sit down and look at the map, rather than pedalling furiously and getting increasingly lost. Under the daily pressures, we tend to focus too much on the immediate crisis, rather than on looking and planning ahead. This day allows us to stop, step back and move from the urgent to the important. 

The flip-side of the 7th Day Principle is that it affirms our WORK as good: “6 days shall you work.” We are designed to work. As soon as God made man, He gave him work to do (Genesis 2:15). This was before the Fall. Work is God-given. It is a blessing, not a curse. It is essential for our good character. It grounds us, and gives us an opportunity to serve God and be a blessing to others. The curse that came in after the Fall was that as a result of sin, our work would be harder, involving toil and sweat (Genesis 3:17-19). 

Having a work-discipline is an important Principle of life. God has made us to work. We must distinguish work from employment. Even if a wife and mother (or a student) is not employed, they still work - you try it! Work is not just about money, it is about being useful and productive, making a contribution to society. The worst thing about unemployment is not poverty, but the lack of fulfilment through being unproductive. It is bad for you to do nothing, you are out of God’s will if you do not work (1Thessalonians 4:11, 5:14, 2Thessalonians 3:6-15). Idleness opens the door to satan. If you are unoccupied, then find some voluntary work to do. 6 days of 

working and one day of rest to reenergise is God’s pattern for our life, and He knows what is best for us. But, on the other hand, if all we do is work that is unbalanced. Taking a day of rest centres us, by reminding us that we are a human-being, not a human-doing.

Never resting from work is living as if everything depends on us, rather than trusting God as our Provider. We might be tempted to think: “I can’t afford to take a day off. I have keep working or I will fall behind.” We have a tendency to think we are the centre of the universe and that everything depends on our efforts, so we dare not take a day of rest, otherwise everything will fall apart and we will fall behind in our work and our finances. This attitude shows that we are trusting too much in ourselves, and not enough in God. 

We need to relax and meditate on God as our gracious Creator and Provider, realising everything we have is from His hand. We fulfil the 7th Day Principle by ceasing from our own works and trusting in God as our Source and Provider. So a day of rest serves to get our focus off ourselves onto God, enthroning Him as the centre of our life, trusting Him for our provision. It breaks our pride, that we are indispensable, reminding us we are limited and not the centre of everything. The world ran fine before we came along and will continue after we are gone, so take a Bible-break and relax in God!

We give everything and everyone else time in our lives. Should we not also give God our time? Obeying the 7th Day Principle is a practical way to acknowledge God as the Lord of our time. It works like the First-fruits (the Tithe). When we give Him this day, by ceasing from our own works and just looking to Him as our Source, then it releases God’s supernatural blessing on the rest of our week. 

The Blessings of Putting God first. 
We are designed by God. The Maker’s Handbook (the Bible) reveals how God has made us to function. God’s Principles are revealed in His Word. If we follow them, we will live, work and function as God intended, and so we will fulfil our potential.

Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and (implement) His (Principles of) Righteousness, and all these things(blessings) will be added (released) to you.” As we seek first His Kingdom - putting God first, and then implementing His Righteousness (Ways) in our lives, by structuring them according to His Principles of wisdom, then His full blessing will be released in our lives, so that: “all these things will be added to us.” One of these Principles of Righteousness is the 7th Day Principle. Therefore applying it will surely release His blessings into our lives (just like the Tithe).

Matthew 6:33 is part of Jesus’ wonderful teaching on worry in 

Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about its own things. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” 

He is saying: rather than worrying about your life and future, take positive action and structure your life according to God’s Principles, and then you will find that God’s blessing will be released, so everything else will fall into place and work out well. God has made us to live and function best when we follow the 7 Day Principle, for God worked 6 days and then rested on the 7th day, and He made us in His image and likeness (to be like Him). 

If we obey the 7 Day Principle and take a day of rest and give it to God, we will not lose out, but only gain, for “the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man” (Mark 2:27). It is God’s gift to man (Exodus 16:29). When we give God our time and rest in Him, not only do we gain natural rest; but also His supernatural refreshment, blessing, creativity and wisdom is released in us. This blessing, released through our day of rest, will cause us to achieve more in the other 6 days, than if we were just to continue to work solidly through all the 7 days (growing increasingly weary and stressed). 

God confirmed this when He first introduced the Sabbath to Israel in connection with the Manna (Exodus 16), teaching them that if they trusted Him in keeping the Sabbath, supernatural provision would be released to them. He taught them this truth, by supernaturally providing their Manna for the 7th day, so that they lost nothing by resting from work on that day, because of God’s supernatural provision. Moreover, all their efforts to collect and get Manna on the 7th day proved futile (there was none), showing that working all 7 days is short-sighted and counterproductive, and that any gain from working all 7 days of the week was just an illusion.

A Prayer: “Lord, we want to put You first. We dedicate ourselves to seek You first and to do Your will in our lives. 

Please reveal Your principles of righteousness (right living) to our hearts, so that we might apply them diligently, and see your blessings fully released in our lives, with all Your good things being added to us. 

Let our lives be a reflection of the discipline, order, peace and power of Your Kingdom and so be a shining witness of Your grace.

In Conclusion, although we are not under the Sabbath Law, there is a 7 Day Principle of taking a weekly day of rest, that we need to implement in our lives, to experience the full blessing of God.

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