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OF THE LAW, OF LOVE, OF GRACE, AND OF HOLINESS

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

17 JANUARY 1993

By: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 1:31
        2:1-3
Exodus 3:4-5
        20:8-11
Joshua 5:13-15
Matthew 12:5
Mark 15:38
John 9:13-16

The world in Jesus' day was basically split between people who didn't know the Lord and those who knew the Lord, but who had made the Law a point of worship that excluded most of God's love and grace.

In other words, they looked like they were holy, but inside they were empty shells.

We have people who fall into these two groups today.

But Jesus did everything He could to show us the proper blend, and the true meaning and intent of the Word.

In order to show how this all fits together, let's focus our attention upon the Sabbath.

First, let's see how God established the Sabbath day.

Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 2:1-3.

1. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.

2. And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

3. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

God blessed and sanctified the seventh day.

He made it holy.

He set the seventh day apart as a time of resting and for enjoying all the good He had made.

But it was better than good; it was very good, as we are told in Genesis 1:31.

31. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

This passage says “behold” or: Take notice of all that I have made.

Thus, He set apart one day in seven for all of us to reflect upon not only what He had done, but also upon all that we have done the previous six days, as well as to get a proper perspective on things as they should be.

And all things should be very good – that is, if they are of God.

Now, keeping all this in mind, let's turn to Exodus 20:8-11, and listen to part of the Ten Commandments.

8. "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy."

It is our duty to keep the sabbath day holy.

It is our duty to keep it sanctified.

So, how do we do this?

In part, we are told in the next three verses.

9. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

10. 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, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.

11. "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy."

We are not to engage in any of our weekday type of work. We are to rest.

But what kind of rest?

We'll have to go on a little further to get that answer.

But before we go on, note that in verse 10 we are told that the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord our God.

It is not of our making, but of His making; so, we must follow His rules.

And in verse 11 we are reminded that the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

There is an interesting parallel to such holiness made by God, which is made for our benefit.

Please turn with me back to Exodus 3:4-5, and note what happened when Moses saw the burning bush.

4. When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

5. Then He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground."

Now, just think for a minute. Would you want to walk with bare feet in everything the soles of your shoes stepped upon?

I didn't think so!

There can be some pretty messy stuff out there that we have stepped in.

And this symbolizes the spiritual dirt that we walk in every day of our lives.

A very similar thing also happened to Joshua. Let's take a look at Joshua 5:13-15.

13. Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?"

14. And he said, "No, rather I indeed came now as captain of the host of the Lord." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?"

15. And the captain of the Lord's host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

Note the symbolism here.

Anyone can enter the holy place of the Lord our God with all of the dirt and sins of the world upon them; but once they enter, they are to remove that which is unholy.

To do otherwise is to show utter disrespect for the Lord and His holy place.

The Sabbath of the Lord is a holy place, or holy time, within each week.

It is a time and place where we are to remove that which has become soiled during the week, and rest in the Lord, so that we would be better equipped to face the next week.

And hopefully, we will be more careful of the things we “walk upon,” so that each successive Sabbath will find us with less and less sin.

This is to bless the Sabbath; this is to sanctify the Sabbath; this is to keep it holy.

Do you remember what happened when Jesus died upon the cross (Mark 15:38)?

38. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

The power of the Lord removed the separation of the common people from the holy of holies. Now every repentant person could enter into the throne of grace.

How much more does God have to do to show us that He loves us?

Yet, most people still won't listen; and they try to hinder others from entering the Sabbath rest.

In John 9:13-16, note what we are told took place following the time when Jesus restored the sight of a blind man.

13. They brought to the Pharisees him who was formerly blind.

14. Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes.

15. Again, therefore, the Pharisees also were asking him how he received his sight. And he said to them, "He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see."

16. Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, "This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." But others were saying, "How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?" And there was a division among them.

The Pharisees knew in their heart that such a sign was indeed from heaven.

We are told in Matthew 12:5 that the Pharisees knew that:

5. "Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath, and are innocent?"

Jesus was indeed acting in this capacity.

But they had their own personal agenda, and used the excuse of the Sabbath to cover their evil intent.

They cared nothing for the Lord or His Sabbath. All they cared about was their own position.

Instead of blessing the Sabbath, they cursed it.

Instead of praising the Lord for the miracle, they blasphemed.

Instead of keeping the Sabbath holy, they profaned it by not removing their sin when they entered it.

But there were some who saw through all their evilness to the truth.

Jesus did the kinds of things we are all to do on the Sabbath.

Do these loving and compassionate things yourselves.

Enter this Sabbath rest, and do what ever you can to help others enter, whether they be other human beings or other animals.

Don't worry about those whose heart is set upon evil, and who try to hinder the truth – you do what you know is right.

You do the things that show the Lord's love and grace.

For your part, do what you can to keep the Sabbath holy.

Amen.

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