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What the Bible says about Liberating Intent of Sabbath
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 13:31-33

Luke also records the Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Parable of the Leaven (Luke 13:18-21), and the setting in his gospel underscores Christ's object in giving them: as a testimony against the kingdom's condition and particularly its leadership. The context begins in Luke 13:10, with Jesus healing a woman with “a spirit of infirmity” on the Sabbath. Later, He describes the woman as being bound by Satan (verse 16), which again stresses the nation's problem with “birds” (demons). The healed woman glorified God, but the ruler of the synagogue was incensed:

But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day” (Luke 13:14).

The Jews' beliefs and practices had become so perverse that, even though they believed they were keeping the fourth commandment (the breaking of which was a major cause of their captivity; see Ezekiel 20:10-24), they completely misunderstood the liberating intent of God's law. Their worldview was so warped that they could feel only indignation at divine deliverance from spiritual bondage, showing how far their hearts had turned from their Creator and how aligned they were with their spiritual captor.

As in Matthew 13, Jesus spoke the two parables to “the multitude” (Luke 13:17) in response to their skewed practices rather than to foretell the future growth and influence of the yet-to-be-established church. In reading through the whole passage, the concept of future church growth is wholly incongruous. In Luke 12:32, our Good Shepherd refers to His followers as a “little flock,” and He says God calls many but chooses only a few (Matthew 20:16). Likewise, James 1:18 calls us “a kind of firstfruits,” implying that the church is limited in number, a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5), while the more abundant main harvest will come later.

Using a different metaphor, Paul writes in I Corinthians 12:18, “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” God alone adds individuals to the spiritual Body, so numeric growth is entirely in His hands—it will never expand beyond the limits He places on it. Paul also writes to Christians at Corinth that, because of Christ's sacrifice, “You truly are unleavened.” His statement does not mean they were without sin but that God imputed righteousness to them based on Christ's work. These scriptures contradict the interpretations that the true church will become either exceptionally large or “all leavened.”

David C. Grabbe
God's Kingdom in the Parables (Part Two)

John 5:5-10

This was a case of chronic illness. This was not a healing that needed to be done immediately—Jesus could have waited until the Sabbath was over. It would not have made any difference at all to this man if he was blind or crippled for another day or a few more hours. However, Jesus did not wait because He wanted to teach us a right and proper use of the Sabbath. It is a time to relieve burdens, to heal, to make life a bit easier for others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)

John 9:14-16

What is the true purpose of the Sabbath? God's instruction about the Sabbath is contained in general principles that we are to apply properly. To do this, we have to understand its purpose.

From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus instructs us on how to live His way of life using these principles. The Sabbath is so significant that His ministry formally began on one and ended on a preparation day for another. In His inaugural sermon (Luke 4:16-19), He spells out His work: setting people free from captivity. He specifically mentions revealing His truth to the poor (that is, the weak), brokenhearted, captives, blind, and oppressed (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

The Sabbath—which, He says in Mark 2:27, "was made for man"—is a key element in this work of delivering people from oppression. God established His Sabbath law, including the weekly and annual Sabbaths, to prepare a people to come out of and stay out of spiritual slavery. Each Sabbath reminds Christians that God is their Liberator, and by keeping it, they show that they are free and want to remain free.

We need to recognize that the blind man's life was not in immediate danger, but the liberating healing Jesus performed was done to one who was chronically ill. Spiritually, we are the same, beset by lingering sins. God provides the Sabbath to free us from the chronic problems caused by the desires of our human nature.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Man Born Blind (Part Two)


 




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