Lesson Number Thirteen
In India, many of the people have unusual markings on their foreheads and sometimes on their faces. These are in a number of shapes and sizes. Each of these marks represents a different deity of India to which the bearers are devoted.
The true God also has a sign which identifies Him and His people. His sign is very clear and distinctive, and all who are marked by it are clearly identified. This sign is not a visible marking on any part of the body or clothing, nor is it a particular symbol displayed on a banner. It is much more enduring than any material mark. It is, in fact, eternal and indestructible. What is this mark?
The Sign of Our God
“And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20.
The Sabbath of God is the sign between Him and His people. It is the mark of distinction by which men and women show allegiance to the Creator and indicate to the world that He is their God.
When the work of Creation was finished, the Creator pronounced it “very good.” Creation was an act that no other being in the universe could accomplish. It was a demonstration of the almighty power of God. It instituted a weekly cycle, commemorated in the weekly Sabbath, as a perpetual symbol of His great power to create.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3.
“Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:12-15.
The Sabbath is also the symbol of God’s power to sanctify: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:12, 13.
The Sign of Jesus' Power
It was Jesus who created the heavens and the earth. This fact is clearly set forth by the apostle Paul: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:13-17.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.” Hebrews 1:1, 2.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3, 14.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Saviour of man, was the Creator. And since the Sabbath was given as a sign of the Creator, the Sabbath is Christ’s sign. He gave it to man as a constant reminder that He who is our Creator, is also our Saviour (with power to save). He said: “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Mark 2:28.
When Was the Sabbath Given?
The Sabbath is often claimed to be only for the Jews, because the written commandment to keep it was first given to Israel on Mount Sinai. But the Sabbath existed long before then. If that were not so, the commandment to observe it would not have commenced with the word; “Remember . . . ” (Exodus 20:8). To remember is commemorative. The Israelites were reminded to remember creation, not their deliverance from Egypt.
The Sabbath was given to humanity on the seventh day of the creation week.
In Genesis 2:2, 3 we read of the special blessing which was placed on the Sabbath. We read that the Lord:
a) Rested on the Seventh day;
b) Blessed the Seventh day; and
a) Sanctified the Seventh day.
To sanctify means to set apart for a holy use.
The Sabbath is a very special day, not just one-seventh part of time, but “the seventh day.” The Sabbath is an institution that cannot he shifted from one day to another. It is fixed as the seventh day of the week.
It was not an institution that the Lord blessed, but a day. Therefore, if the seventh day is separated from the Sabbath, the Sabbath is destroyed.
The Sign of Salvation and Sanctification
The same power of Christ as was manifested in the original creation is also manifested in His power to save people from sin. Salvation is re-creation. The old, sinful, carnal nature dies and a new heart is created: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
Again, no other power in the universe is able to do this. We cannot change ourselves, no one can, except Christ.
“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25.
The Lord Himself declared through the prophet Ezekiel; “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. . . . And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:12, 20.
Here the Sabbath is declared to be the symbol of His power to sanctify. Wherever there is a manifestation of the power of God, whether in the work of creation, deliverance or sanctification, there we find the Sabbath as its symbol. As long as the power of God exists, the Sabbath will remain as His symbol.
Which Is the Lord’s Day?
Because Christ instituted the Sabbath and commanded His people to keep it as a sign between Him and them, it is not surprising that Christ Himself, as a man on earth, kept the Sabbath holy: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16.
As a Sabbathkeeper it was His custom to go to the synagogue on the day. Later, as Jesus foretold the overflow of Jerusalem by the Roman Armies and warned His people to flee from the doomed city, he added; “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” Matthew 24:20.
It was not until the year A.D. 70 that this prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus thereby indicated that he recognized the continuing sanctity of the Sabbath and expected that this sanctity would not be lessened after His death, resurrection, or ascension,
When speaking to the Pharisees one day, Jesus declared: “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Mark 2:27, 28.
If, therefore, the son of man is the Lord of the Sabbath, the Sabbath must be the “Lord’s day.” Isaiah agrees with this: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13, 14.
How Should the Sabbath Be Kept?
From the Bible record the day begins and finishes at sunset. It is clearly seen in the creation record in the first chapter of Genesis. After each day of creation it is declared that the “evening and the morning” formed that day. In other words: the dark part preceded the light part of the day. This is a logical and natural division of time. With regard to the Sabbath it is the same:
“. . . from even unto even, shalt ye celebrate your sabbath.” Leviticus 23:32 (last part).
We too are therefore enjoined to commence the Sabbath at sunset on the sixth day of the week, and to end it at sunset on the seventh day.
The Lord instructed His people Israel to offer a morning and evening sacrifice. Thus each family gathered to worship God each morning and evening. In like manner, Christian Sabbath-keepers gather together every day for morning and evening worship, especially at the beginning and closing of the holy Sabbath at the sunset hour.
We are commanded to carry out all our work in the six working days, while the Sabbath is to be wholly set aside for the study of God’s Word and the wonderful works of creation and for worship.
“Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant; nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Exodus 20:9, 10.
It is interesting to note that preparation of food was also not to be done on Sabbath. This was to be carried out on the previous day, known as “the day of preparation” (Mark 15:42). This lesson was taught to the children of Israel by a special miracle. After leading them out of Egypt, the Lord provided food for them for 40 years while they were in the wilderness. On the first five days of the week, manna lay on the ground every morning. If they collected extra for the next day, it went bad. But on the morning of the sixth day a double portion fell and it kept fresh until the Sabbath was over.
“And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to he kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the Lord: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.” Exodus 16:22-27.
True Christians should also prepare their food for the Sabbath on Friday.
Jesus taught that there is one kind of work which can be done on the Sabbath. He demonstrated it in works of mercy, caring for the sick, and saving the life of man and beast.
On the Sabbath we should not speak about our daily work, nor allow our thoughts to dwell on our personal interests. It is not a day to be spent in pleasure seeking, for the whole day is to he devoted to the Lord, This is the delight of all who love the Lord, “. . . not doing thine own ways.” Isaiah 58:13.
As the Lord is eternal, so is His Sabbath. In heaven and on the earth made new, the redeemed together with angels and the unfallen beings of other worlds, will come together on the Sabbath to worship their Creator.
“And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:23.
Dear friend, Will you not accept the Lord’s command and keep His Sabbath day holy? Join with God’s people as they worship each Sabbath day.
Quiz For Lesson Number Thirteen
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