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What the Bible says about Sabbath as Gift
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 2:3

Genesis 2:3 says that God blessed the Sabbath day, something He did to no other day. This blessing falls on the heels of the obviously physical blessings God pronounced on animals (Genesis 1:22) and man (Genesis 1:28). The Bible shows a blessing to be something given or conferred to produce a fuller, more abundant life. The Sabbath blessing, conferred upon the whole creation, acts as the capstone of Creation week.

By blessing a recurring period of time, God promises to be man's benefactor through the whole course of human history! The blessing invokes God's favor, and its primary intent is that God will be our spiritual benefactor. It does, however, include the physical as well. Thus, Jesus clearly ties His ministry to the Sabbath concepts of blessing, deliverance, liberty, and redemption.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath

Genesis 2:3

God did this to no other day! The Sabbath day is blessed. The Bible clearly shows a blessing to be somethinggiven or conferred to bring a person a fuller and more abundant life. The blessing may be monetary, but it elevates the person's life. The blessing may be something spiritual such as forgiveness of sin or illumination of the mind to truth. The person begins to be liberated, and his life begins to fill with the right things.

We can begin to see God's purpose in blessing the Sabbath. The purpose of the Sabbath is to bring a person - and everyone eventually - to a more abundant life, to liberate him from whatever holds him in bondage. The Sabbath is the day of liberation, of liberty, of freedom.

Genesis 2:3 is the capstone of His blessings in the Creation week, expressing God's blessing of His whole Creation. By blessing a recurring period of time, God promises to be man's Benefactor through the whole course of human history. It is an invocation of God's favor to everyone who keeps it. We will see that its primary intention is to make and show God as our spiritual Benefactor.

Now, the Sabbath blessing also includes the physical. The two cannot be separated because we are physical. This is why He tells us to rest on it. It is a blessing to be able to rest on the Sabbath. Our health is increased because of it. We do not get sick as often as we used to. And when we do, we do not become as sick as we used to. Because we are resting on the Sabbath day, our body is freed from much of what would normally come upon us. If we do not keep it, we do not receive that blessing.

Even so, this is not its primary intention. Its primaryintention has to do with the spiritual. In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus clearly ties His ministry to the Sabbath concepts of blessing, deliverance, liberty, and redemption. That is His mission: to bring these things to mankind.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 2)

Exodus 16:4

The inference is obvious. Moses gave this instruction so that the Israelites would not work on the Sabbath day. The first commandment that God specifically revealed to His people after coming out of Egypt was the Sabbath, the commandment most important for keeping people free. If people miss their weekly appointment with God because they have something else going, then they are missing the opportunity to remain free, squandering the time that God has given to mankind to help them to enter His Kingdom. The Sabbath is a wonderful gift He has given to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 1)

Deuteronomy 5:12-15

Notice how we are commanded to sanctify the day. The emphasis here is on being free. God says, "Remember [on this day] that you were a slave." The implication is obvious. When the Israelites were slaves, they had no freedom to make choices. Therefore, if we keep this day properly, we can remain free. If properly used, the Sabbath compels us to remember the past as well as to look forward to where our lives are headed.

We do this through Bible study and hearing sound, inspired messages combined with meditation and conversation in fellowship. In church services we hear a great deal about the Kingdom of God and the world today. Most messages involve sin in some way. Sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4), but the Ten Commandments are the law of liberty (James 1:25). By keeping them, we remain free of enslavement by Satan, this world, and death. On the Sabbath, God instructs His people through His Word on how to keep His commandments and thus remain free. Exodus 16:4, 25-30 explains further:

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not." . . . Then Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none." Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws? See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." So the people rested on the seventh day.

The first commandment that God specifically revealed after He freed Israel from slavery was the one intended to keep them free, the Sabbath. God gave them this witness of a double portion of manna on the sixth day and none on the seventh for forty years! Contrary to those who assert the Sabbath has been done away or replaced, the Sabbath is a wonderful gift of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment

Mark 2:27-28

These verses contain a number of things critical to Sabbath keeping:

  1. Jesus refers to the Sabbath as a specific day; it is the Sabbath, not a Sabbath.
  2. The Sabbath was not made for its own sake as were the other six days, but as a service to mankind. An alternate translation would be that it "was made on account of man." Jesus presents it as the Creator's specific and thoughtful gift to man.
  3. It was not made just for the Jews, but for mankind. When God created the Sabbath, He intended it from the beginning as a UNIVERSAL blessing to benefit mankind. He made it to help ensure man's physical and spiritual well-being.
  4. The broader context reveals a disagreement over how to keep it. Jesus claims to be its Lord, its Owner or Master, and He thus lays claim to His right to show by His example and verbal instruction how to keep it, not whether to keep it. Since He expresses no disagreement with keeping it, He implies that He expects man—not just Jews—to keep it. He has a perfect opportunity here to reply that it does not matter if men keep it, but He gives no such indication.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part One) (1997)

Luke 4:16-19

The Sabbath is so significant that Jesus' ministry formally began on a Sabbath and ended on a preparation day just before another Sabbath (John 19:31)! We see Him open His ministry in Luke 4:16-19, where He gives His mission statement. By quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 in His inaugural sermon, Jesus identifies His mission as setting people free from bondage. He specifically mentions freeing the poor (weak, without power), brokenhearted, captive, blind, and oppressed.

"The acceptable year of the LORD" is not when God is acceptable to us, but when God, in His sovereign mercy, moves to make us acceptable to Him. It is a time when He chooses to deliver people. More specifically, it refers to two Old Testament institutions, either the seventh year land Sabbath or the Jubilee year. Israelites considered these years liberators of the oppressed. During them, the land lay fallow and what food it produced on its own went to the poor, dispossessed, and animals. Slaves were freed and debts remitted. During Jubilee years, debtors received back their land lost due to mismanagement.

Jesus says in verse 21, "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." It was a Sabbath, and through the typology, Christ is clearly showing that His redemptive mission included the liberating intent of the Sabbaths, weekly and annual. In Mark 2:27, Jesus says, "The Sabbath was made for man." God made it to equip us to come out of spiritual slavery—and even more so, to help us in staying out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath


 




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