REFLECTIONS ON THE REST OF GOD AND THE JUBILEE
NOTES FROM ISOM at NLRC December 3, 2013
A CALENDAR REGULATED BY REST
In the days of His creative work God climaxed His week with a day of rest. Therefore we should not be surprised that He regulated the calendar of His chosen people with days and years of rest.
- Each week culminated in a Sabbath.
- Every seventh year the land was to have its Sabbath.
- Every fiftieth year was to be a further Sabbath year, called the Jubilee.
- Alas, the Jews failed to honor this life regulated by rest and the result was seventy years of captivity (2 Chronicles 36:17-21).
- They thus came under the YOKE of Babylon and part of that regime was the fact that there were no Sabbath rests in their calendar (Jeremiah 27:8-13).
- Remember the words of Jesus about His YOKE of rest (Matthew 11:28-30)!
THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN
Man is made in the image of God and part of that image is work from rest. Thus God instituted Sabbath as part of the grace of law He gave His Old Testament people. During and after the French Revolution of the late 18th century there was an attempt to fashion a ‘metric’ week comprising nine days with a tenth as the rest day but it just did not ‘fit’ with the rhythm of the human and so was abandoned. God has written into our make up the need for work and rest to regulate our lives.
- “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).
- On return from the captivity in Babylon where there had been no Sabbath enjoyed, the scribes and Pharisees had intensified the laws of the Sabbath so that man became slave of the petty regulations of keeping it (Mark 2:27).
- God gave the weekly Sabbath day as a gift of His gracious law (Exodus 20:8-11).
- During their sojourn in Egypt from birth till death the captive Israelites and worked from dawn till dusk seven days a week and every day of the year.
- Every day, sweat, toil with head down in mud and straw and building the treasure cities of Egypt (Exodus 1:11-14).
- Contrast the diet the Israelites enjoyed in Egyptian captivity, the onions and the garlic in the ground and the fruits of the land of Promise they were to eat in the land of rest into which God was going to bring them (Numbers 11:5, 13; 23). The slave reaches down to harvest whilst the spies reached up!
THE SABBATH INSTITUTED AND PERMANENT
What we know as ‘the ten commandment’ were prefaced with God’s gracious statement that He had brought His people out of the house of slavery. This is important. The giving of the law to regulate the moral and spiritual life of His people, and to regulate their weekly and yearly days and months was and is grace. The day of rest is a gracious gift of God.
- Many think that grace and law are opposed. A grave mistake.
- It is a gracious thing that parents do when the set safe boundaries around their children. “Do not touch, it is hot and will burn you,” for instance.
- We are made in God’s image, Orangutans do not have a day of rest but man does, because of that image.
- A day of rest, renewal and rejoicing. God rejoiced on His seventh day, resting in the beauty and order of what He had created. So the day of rest should be for us who are made in His image. It is ‘natural’ to us as being made in His likeness.
- The law God gave was in fact an expression of His eternal life in words. So, Sabbath rest is implicit.
- The law of resting fosters faith and dependence upon God.
- Give the land rest one year in seven. What a law for an agrarian nation. Enough would be given in harvest by God to carry them through the year when the land reposed and was reinvigorated (Leviticus 25:1-7).
- The stranger and poor could freely eat of what grew of itself in that seventh, Sabbath year. It was therefore a gift of grace, freely given to those in need. Generosity of heart was inferred.
- Israel was to be unique among the nations, marked out by keeping the Sabbath day each week and the Sabbath year one in seven. It was ‘holy’ and they would be thus a people sanctified to the Lord (Exodus 31:12-18).
- They must not be in the grip of growing, getting and increase every year. Neither should we be. Work is a blessed gift and originally in no way linked with monetary gain. It is part of God’s image in us, to fashion things that are into things of beauty and usefulness and to serve one another. The Sabbath nourishes up a dependent partnership between God and us. Livestock got a rest; the whole creation did not groan that year. We proclaim our trust in God by not working seven days a week and succumbing to the greed of gain.
- Go the extra mile. Give a ‘bakers dozen’ (13) in your life attitudes and dealings with others in business, all such living is a manifestation of ‘Sabbath trust’ in God.
- It is a day of feasting and not fasting, a day of rejoicing and the Sabbath years too!
THE SABBATH AND THE MANNA
When God brought His people out of their bondage He brings them to learn profound dependent trust on Him. He did this with the Israelites. His people came out of Egypt, into the wilderness and they were hungry and complained and grumbled.
- God appeared in His glory and promised His rich supply (Exodus 16:1-12)
- They would be fed more than enough.
- Quail came up and fell in the camp and then the miraculous supply of the manna.
- “MANNA” is a word that means, “What is it?” It has a quality that is unknown, mysterious and wonderful. It was God’s bountiful supply for their needs. It is not fully explicable. We live dominated by the need for explanation for everything. Mental things dominate us but first and foremost we are made for love not thought. So, they gathered and fed upon that which they could not fully explain.
- Six days a week they were to gather it. Each morning it was there having settled upon the dew that had distilled in the night time. As much as each desired they could take but they were not to save it for the day following. If they did so it would breed worms and stink (Exodus 16:13-21).
- On the sixth day they had to gather as much as they needed for the day following, the Sabbath. There would be none on the ground to be collected that day! Jesus told us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11) and this could be translated “give us this day our bread for today and sufficient for tomorrow.” Just like the sixth day in the wilderness. Sufficient for tomorrow!
- On the day of rest the Israelites did no have to bend down and scrabble to harvest the manna. It was already in their house! It seems that they prepared it all on the day before the Sabbath so that they enjoyed rest on that day, perhaps, even from cooking!
- There was no stink in their tents. Order and sufficiency and joy.
- The people were to rest and feed upon what God had given them on the sixth day.
WHAT DAY DID JESUS, GOD’S BREAD FROM HEAVEN DIE?
All types, figures, feasts and pictures found in the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus. He is our Passover, He is our rest, and He is our manna. He is everything. Jesus hung upon the cross on the sixth day. The Bread of God came down from heaven and was gathered by His Father into the Heavenly House and for all who will eat of Him.
- Jesus calls Himself the bread of God (John 6:33).
- Moses gave the bread from heaven that was the manna although it was really God Who gave it (John 6:32).
- Jesus is God’s bread. He upon Whom the Father has eternally ‘fed’.
- 33 years upon the earth and people received of bounty of Jesus’ life. Like the manna He was always there, generously given each day and especially fed people with healing and blessing on the Sabbath days if they came to Him.
- On the sixth day of the week He was broken bread upon Calvary.
- We may reverently say that first and foremost He satisfied the appetite of God His Father.
- Jesus gave Himself first to His Father to satisfy the need for justice to be done, sin to be dealt with, the enemies had to be defeated and love must triumph. His Father fed upon the victorious life and sacrificial death of His Son. Oh the beauty of Jesus to His Father Who fed upon that beauty as love nourishes love. Again, if we may say it reverently. God the Father had a most wonderful meal that day of Golgotha. All that was wrong was made right. Righteousness was triumphant, the reign of sin and death were overcome. God fed upon His Son and through Him begot a family of sons in His likeness. For this God had longed.
JESUS IS GOD’S BREAD AND OURS TOO
Jesus, broken on Calvary was more than sufficient to satisfy the requirements of God His Father. God is satisfied. This true bread from heaven given all through the six days from heaven and more than enough on the sixth for eternity must satisfy us also.
- Jesus worked and served in fashioning a new creation all those ‘six days’ of His life upon earth.
- He came down from heaven as manna for man.
- His ultimate self-giving as bread was on the sixth day.
- He alone can satisfy the appetite of our soul.
- Here are some of those appetites. An appetite to be loved and to love.
- An appetite that our conscience, troubled by guilt and shame should be satisfied.
- A desire to be a right being.
- An appetite to be beautiful and glorious.
- To be holy and useful to God having purpose and a future that will be fulfilled.
- No other creature can satisfy those longings. In Christ alone. He is the true bread of our soul!
- We do not have to bring Christ down nor bring Him up (Romans 10:5-10). He is in the house! He is ever near. God the Father gathered Him to His bosom at His right hand forevermore.
- Come and eat, feed upon Him by faith in your heart.
- You do not have to go out to gather. He is our Sabbath rest. We do not have to strain to find Him. “Come unto Me” He says (Matthew 11:28).
- He has become broken bread, small enough for us to feed upon. Now sit at the table and eat the bread already gathered in. Baked and prepared and savory to the tastes of our heart.
- Now you can fulfill your calling.
- Enter in to that rest today.
- We become that which we feed upon. Feed upon Jesus for your past, present and future. His life and death in the past. His present ministry in the presence of His Father and His future coming and the kingdom that He shall bring in forever more.
- Feed by looking upon Him as the writer to the Hebrews shows us right through His letter. There he presents Jesus in His life upon earth, His death, His passing through the heavens and this brings repose to our souls and the promise of the ending Sabbath towards which all history moves “Hebrews 4:9).