Sunday, May 14, 2017

KEEPING THE SABBATH IN SPIRIT AND IN PEACE

Click To Enlarge (Note: Graphic shows Apostle Peter healing a cripple in Acts 3, not Jesus)
Sometime believers stumble over their legalistic, works-oriented tendencies, thereby negating the Freedom and Liberty believers have been given in Christ. One place where this is especially evident is in various teachings about the Sabbath, which can become extremely restrictive and demanding. However, though we are commanded to keep the Sabbath Day holy, and to rest from our works and concentrate on doing God's work on the Sabbath, all of us face challenges in this life that hold us back from keeping God's Commandment to keep the Sabbath perfectly.

This is especially true if we're married to, or have children that are unbelievers, and they want to attend events or engage in affairs that they insist on doing on the Sabbath Day, or if we have a work position that doesn't allow us to honor the Sabbath. In these cases, we should do our best to reflect Christ's loving and perfect character and to witness to the lost, just as we would on any other day. So, when we come into contact with people throughout the week, our faith in and love for Christ and our neighbors should always be apparent, no matter what those whom we come into contact with may believe.

One thing we need to remember is that all true believers are under God's Grace through Christ, and Christ nailed all the sacrificial and ritual Laws to the Cross with Him because He was the PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR SIN (See Colossians 2:13-14). Therefore, we are no longer subject to keeping any of the ritual or sacrificial Laws that were attached to the Seven Major Feasts of the Lord. Instead, we only need to focus on the Laws that SPECIFICALLY govern our MORAL WALK with God and mankind. The only exceptions to this rule are the three major Feasts of the Lord that our Savior Yahshua either directly told us to honor, or showed us to honor by their connection to major events in the making of God's NEW Covenant with mankind.

This NEW Covenant was cut via Christ's shed Blood on the Cross, and it was sealed by His Resurrection during the Feast of Passover. It was then further expanded upon after Christ's Ascension by the giving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost or Shavuot, and it was given a future dimension via Christ's establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth through the process of becoming Born Again in the Spirit. The final goal of this process of being redeemed, transformed and gathered into God's Fold through Christ is celebrated at the Feasts of Tabernacles and Chanukah.

The Feast of Passover, with its focus on Resurrection Sunday, is in the early Spring, Pentecost Sunday or Shavuot is in the Late Spring, and Sukkot or Tabernacles is in the Autumn. However, the Jews also view Chanukah as a second Feast of Tabernacles, and I have proven that the 9-day Feast of Chanukah is directly connected to the much maligned, but nonetheless sanctified 12-day Feast of Christmas. Therefore, celebrating Chanukah and/or Christmas as a holy feast dedicated to God's Son fulfills our requirement to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. Happily, most believers do honor these three Feasts in their own ways, and since they are not required to keep the Sabbath as the Jews do, they also have the freedom to keep the Sabbath traditionally, or skip or alter it a bit when necessary.

In the Gospels, there is proof that we have freedom from traditional Sabbath-keeping in that Yahshua was a Sabbath breaker. For example, Christ healed the sick on the Sabbath (See Luke 6:6-11; John 5:8-19). In the example given in the Gospel of John, Yahshua not only healed a man with an infirmity on the Sabbath, but ordered him to pick up his bed and walk. Now, not only was it unlawful for the healed man to pick up his bed and carry it on the Sabbath according to the incorrect but prevailing Jewish interpretation of the Sabbath Law, but it was also technically unlawful for Yahshua to show mercy and compassion by healing on the Sabbath, based on Jewish teaching. So the Jewish religious leaders of the day called the Pharisees actually sought to kill Jesus for disproving their strict and meritless definition of how to keep the Sabbath, and not for actually breaking any of God's Commandments.

Christ and His apostles also picked grain and ate it on the Sabbath when they were hungry (Mark 2:23-28). When the Pharisees ridiculed Christ and the Apostles for picking ripe grain on the Sabbath, Yahshua said that God made the Sabbath for mankind, NOT mankind for the Sabbath, meaning that the Sabbath was meant to be a blessing for mankind, not a burden or curse that kept them from eating, enjoying nature, or caring for others (See Mark 2:27). This is why Paul said not to let anyone judge you by whether or not you keep sabbaths, which are a shadow of the reality and FREEDOM that we have been given in Christ (See Colossians 2:16-17, below). As the Apostle Paul said in Colossians 2:8-23:
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and YOU ARE COMPLETE IN HIM, who is the head of all principality and power. 11
      In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 16
      So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. 18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puff ed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. 20
       Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— 21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
Paul's discourse in Romans 14:1-10, which is quoted below, also emphasizes the truth that believers have the Freedom and Liberty in Christ to do as the Holy Spirit leads them. He does so using language that addresses believers in regard to observing traditional Feast days and sabbaths, and the rituals associated with them:
“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 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. 7 For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. 8 Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. 10 But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
This means that believers can choose to keep the Sabbath and other ritual behaviors regarding what we eat and drink, or where we go everyday of the week, or on one day, or part of one day in the week, or not at all due to other pressing obligations, and they should NOT feel ashamed or condemned for it. In Christ, we are free from the restrictions placed on us by the sacrificial and cyclical rules of God's Law because Christ fulfilled or will fulfill them all for us. This is why, in his epistle to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul warned against falling back on old ritual behaviors, and explained what it means to have Freedom and Liberty in Christ:
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. 2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” ~ Galatians 5:1-6
I for one, am extremely grateful to Yahweh God for this blessing under His Grace, and for the faith that His Son and Spirit have given me to work out my salvation with His perfect love, which casts out all fear. For though we must all work out our salvation with a degree of fear and trembling when we err, we also can find great peace and liberty through our diligent application of love, mercy and Grace - both towards ourselves, and towards all of our brethren in the faith.

As for how we should spend the Sabbath, Luke, the write of Acts makes it clear that believers should fellowship with one another on the Sabbath, as well as help other believers in need of help, or that are poor by setting aside funds to give to them when needed (Acts 20:71 Corinthians 16:2).

For more information on this important topic, you may want to read two previous POEM Ministry blog articles, which go even further into the purpose and prophetic meaning of the Sabbath. Here are the titles and links to them:

PROPHECIES OF THE 1ST DAY
 AND 7TH DAY SABBATHS

WHY CHRIST IS THE LORD
OF A PERPETUAL SABBATH!

With Love From
Your Sister In Yahshua,
Helena Lehman of the
Pillar of Enoch Ministry
Ministry Web Site: http://pillar-of-enoch.com
Ministry Blog: http://pillarofenoch.blogspot.com

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