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Friday, July 24, 2015

#38. What shall we do on the Sabbath? Part 16 - Remember Our Slavery and Redemption

Deuteronomy 5:12–15 — ‘Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. 13 ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. 15 ‘You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.

We are continuing our survey of activities that we must do, and other things that we may do, on the Christian Sabbath.  Many people seem to misunderstand the teaching about a Christian Sabbath as directing believers to sit around all day and do nothing.  What we have seen already, though, shows us that in fact there are many things we should be doing with this special day that the Lord has given.  Indeed, there are several things that may be done more easily and more effectively on this day than on any other in the week.  The Sabbath isn't a matter of complete inactivity, therefore, but of substituting things we do on the other six days of the week with spiritual pursuits, intended to bring us nearer to God and prepare us for glory.

So we find in our text another example of something Israel was commanded to do as they kept their Sabbaths under the Old Covenant - they were to remember their slavery in Egypt and how the Lord had delivered them in mighty power.  In fact, the text suggests that this remembrance was a key reason why at Sinai the Lord restated the command for Sabbath observance.

This observation naturally suggests an activity for believers on the Christian Sabbath under the New Covenant, since we were held captive in a much more serious bondage and have been delivered in a much more powerful and enduring redemption than Israel experienced.  Our bondage was a bondage to sin and to Satan, to spiritual forces of darkness far too strong for us to overcome, even if we had wanted to.  However, to make matters worse, we were not innocent victims, kidnapped and taken into captivity by Satan while he issued ransom demands for our release.  On the contrary, in Adam, mankind gave himself over to this captivity quite willingly, and to this day, he has no desire to give it up.

This understanding of our situation makes the love of God all the more amazing.  We were enemies of God, willingly enslaved to sin, Satan and all kinds of wickedness. Yet it was while we were in that condition that He sent Jesus into the world to rescue those who would put their trust in Him.  And this redemption was accomplished at the cross but confirmed on the first day of the week, when Christ rose from the dead.  In doing so, it became clear that His sacrifice on behalf of His people had been accepted by God - the price was paid and His people were set free from their captivity.

So it is very fitting indeed to remember our helpless, lost and enslaved condition, and God's eternal, sacrificial, saving love on that day when our redemption was sealed and our beloved Savior rose from the dead.

There are believers who consider they have moved on in their Christian walks beyond the message of the Gospel, so that they may even decide not to go to church if a Gospel message is announced in advance.  We would ask such brothers and sisters to think again in the light of our text.  It seems most appropriate for us to spend time on the Lord's Day in hearing messages that focus on the lost condition of fallen man and the amazing love and grace of God in sending His Son to redeem us!