I enjoy being tested, challenged. I believe it is one of the greatest methods to achieving rapid rates of gain. As an archer I get better by challenging myself with more difficult shots. As a hunter, my skill and expertise advances more quickly when I’m placed in a challenging environment, pitted against cagey prey. As a student, the acquisition of knowledge is accelerated when posed a difficult question. The kind of question that sends you on a quest. Today’s commentary is about such a quest.
I am not a theologian. I have no “formal” education to tout or shingle to hang above my door. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, a child of God. That’s it. I read His word because I love Him and I want to know Him. I want to realize the fullness of life He offers me and how He would use me to accomplish plans He has set in motion. From time to time He challenges me by way of another’s inquiries. Today is one of those days.
Isaiah 58:13,14 (NKJV) “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I received a text from a good friend of mine, asking my thoughts on Isaiah 58:13-14. I read it, backed up to secure the context and replied, “He’s telling us how God blesses those who observe the Sabbath.” He responded, “what do you think He means when He says, ‘not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words’?” This is too much for text, time for a phone call.
Interesting enough, God has been preparing me for just such a conversation and provided just such a conversation to guide me to the conveyance of all concerned here today. A couple months ago, God led me through a study on the significance and obligation of Sabbath observance. Though I am completely unqualified to do so, I feel He has compelled me to express my discoveries and reflections.
In Exodus 20:1-17, God instructs us in His ten commandments. The fourth commandment being, “Remember the Sabbath day.” Early on God is structuring our lives around a 6 day work week and one day of rest. That holy day is to be one of remembrance of God’s glory and restoration of spirit and body, something that we as mortal beings require to be effective.
Enter Jesus Christ in Mark 2:27 And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is a gift, given to us by God, to satisfy our need for restoration, not something merely to observe so that you may check it off a list.
In Romans 14:5,6 Paul gives us some more clarity as to the impact of the fourth commandment under our new covenant in Christ Jesus saying, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
It would appear, according to Paul, unlike the other 9, the 4th commandment falls in with the “ceremonial” laws of the Mosaic covenant. Therefore, making it’s observance, non-observance, and on which day, all days or no day, a matter of conscience.
So, the answer to my friend’s question, “what did He mean by, not doing your own ways…”, is a question of the heart. Jesus (reiterated by Paul) is telling us that it is not the what, the how, or the when we are observing the Sabbath, but the why that’s important. Are we doing so to restore ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually? That’s why God gave us the Sabbath, after all. For our benefit, restoration and drawing nearer to Him. What are the motives of our heart? Are our observances done so to the Lord? Not doing your own ways, simply means, doing what God wants for us with Him on our hearts and minds in the process. Every day is of Him, holy, “Sabbath”, so pursue Him from waking to sleep, read His word, pray and converse, executing every thought and action with Him in the foreground. That’s what matters. What it looks like is between your heart and His. Have a blessed weekend!
In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,