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When Tradition becomes our Truth: Time to Re-examine the Sabbath

What did Jesus mean by, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17)

If we can understand him in this, we will be able to walk in the fulness of the will of GOD. I am convinced that, right now, the Church – as in the followers of Jesus in this day and age – is not doing this as well as it needs to.

What is the Sabbath?

The Sabbath is the day God rested; six days He created and on the seventh day He rested (Genesis 2:1)

In Hebrews 3 we are told to enter His rest; this is His rest: The Sabbath. Then the writer goes on to say, “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

What I am introducing is a bit of a hot potato in the Christian fellowship. What I am provoking is thought, free from tradition, digging into the Bible to discover what God is saying to us… And I seek to encourage you the reader; if you get cross with me, go to the Father and ask, “Why am I cross?”

So here goes my effort to pull the curtain from the way things are to ask, is this the way things are meant to be?

What is the LAW?

The Law includes the 10 Commandments, the Food Laws, Cleanliness/Purity Laws and Justice Laws. The Laws are found in the Pentateuch – the first 5 books of the Bible, and particularly in Leviticus*. These were the books written down by Moses as dictated by Father God. God commanded that the Hebrew peoples keep these laws for their salvation and continued relationship with Him.

Contemporary Christianity rests on the Biblical Truth as synthesised by Paul in Ephesians,

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

And also in Galatians, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” (Gal 3:10)

We in the Evangelical fellowship have taken these things to mean that we do not have to keep the law in order to be born again and saved. In fact to keep some of the law means we curse ourselves.

But could this be an assumption or a mis-understanding of the Bible text? Or if not, then why is Psalm 119 full of “I love your statutes”; “I keep your precepts”; “Your law is perfect”. Please note, I am aware Psalms is in the Old Testament and Paul’s letters are in the New Testament. But I take the whole Bible to be perfect and that the fulfilment of the New does not cancel the Old any more than the value of a grandparent is cancelled out by a parent.

God’s Attitude to His Law

I’ve been thinking about this (and praying about this) for some time: What does the Father think of His law? Is it possible that He still loves His law and that we have used scripture to free ourselves from it, without considering the Father’s love for it?

If law and custom is a lifestyle and God has designed the customs and lifestyle, giving them to the Hebrew people that they might join with Him in fellowship, then what of us who have been grafted in? Jesus saves us; the law does not. But what about celebrating and living as God intended, just because God would love it? Are we mature enough to look upon the Father as one we love, not only as one who loves us?

The statutes, precepts, and ordinances of God are not rules; I know that much. They were a means to convey to the Chosen people how God wanted them to live differently – and better – from the heathens that surrounded them. How can we be any different?

If we continue to look at what we need to be saved, rather than at how God wants us to live, then we are still living as young children, considering how we stay inside the boundaries and what we need to do to keep our Father from getting angry. It’s all about us.

But what if we turn the perspective and make it all about God?

Only Jesus saves

I don’t want to be misunderstood… Nothing, nothing, nothing is better than or more complete than the saving work of Jesus on the Cross. He died for all humanity, that if any would receive him, s/he could draw to the Father just as Adam and Eve were in relationship with Him before The Fall. Nothing changes that. Nothing replaces that.

The Father’s Heart

But GOD. What about Him? What does He want? Does He not hunger for relationship with us? And does He want us to be perennial children: always asking for forgiveness, always making mistakes, always learning. Or does He want us to be Christlike: surrendered, mature, loving and yielding, so that the GLORY of GOD’s power and authority are pronounced in the earth, in and through His people.

The Sabbath… my own conviction

I have been convicted for some time about the Sabbath, to keep it Holy. What is the Sabbath? It is the 7th day of the week, what we call Saturday. God rested on this day and He asks us to do the same.

Does He prefer sacrifice or obedience? He prefers obedience to sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).

That is not keeping the law to be saved, and thus to curse ourselves. Rather, that is honouring the Father.

Losing Tradition, Gaining Truth

There is so much more to say on this subject. I will look to it over the coming weeks. For now, I’d ask simply for you to consider what traditions we have taken as Biblical Truth that (may) need to be thrown away because otherwise, they get in the way of our growing relationship to God the Father who made us and made a way for us to have relationship with Him. The way is not through the law, but through Grace. And yet, the law is perfect and wonderful.

How can we justify the two? I think we need to find a way.

Our roots are in Christ, but as the Son he points always to the Father.

Staying in Relationship

Let us not harden our hearts toward one another. I believe, if reading this you feel angry or threatened, then know that I am neither judge nor perfect. The heart of the Father would not have us attack one another. And if you are like me, the more adamant or the more irked one is, the further s/he is from the Father’s heart.

God bless and Shalom.

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*The Levite Priests and Pharisees, over time, added interpretations to these laws which made the life inordinately more difficult. Of this practice Jesus told the people to do as the leaders said but not follow as they did, and he was angry with the leaders for the burdens they lay on their people. (Matthew 23)