"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Rest For God's People

      Since God's church first hit the ground running—usually away from their persecutors—Gentile believers and Judaic believers have managed to find plenty of issues to dispute. At the head of that hot-list was, and is, God's appointed day for corporate worship.
      Jewish disciples believed in keeping the seventh-day Sabbath ordained for God's people since before the Mosaic law was instituted. For them, the Sabbath Day was, is, and shall always be the seventh-day of the week.
      Gentile believers, referred to as Hellenistic, celebrated Christ's resurrection, which was on the first day of the week as recorded in the gospels. These non-Jewish believers had never honored the Sabbath and saw no reason for starting the custom.
      So the dispute grew, along with the issues of circumcision, dietary restrictions, ceremonial cleansing, and keeping the rest of the Jewish holy days. Even after the New Testament was completed, the disputes continued, despite the many passages therein which were written specifically to put them to rest.
      This issue could fill books that would only add to the many tomes already published by theologians representing all sides of the argument. But we'll focus on the basic Scripture passages concerning the New Testament application of the Sabbath rest.
      In the following passage, Luke faithfully reported some of Stephen's last words as he addressed the Sanhedrin before being stoned to death.
Act 7:49  "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?"
      In that statement, Stephen paraphrased Psalm 132:13 & 14.
Psa 132:13  For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: 
Psa 132:14  "This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. 
      As if all that weren't enough, the author of the letter to the Hebrews continued the theme in Hebrews, chapter three, where he quoted Psalm 95:10 & 11.
Heb 3:10  Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' 
Heb 3:11  As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'" 
Heb 3:12  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 
Heb 3:13  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 
Heb 3:14  For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 
Heb 3:15  As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." 
Heb 3:16  For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 
Heb 3:17  And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 
Heb 3:18  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 
Heb 3:19  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. 

       Below, find the verses Stephen quoted. 
Psa 95:10  For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways." 
Psa 95:11  Therefore I swore in my wrath, "They shall not enter my rest." 

      Whether we see this verse in the New Testament or here at its source in Psalm 95, it speaks of how God's people constantly failed Him, with the final insult of not only rejecting His only Son, but of murdering Him in the most disgraceful way possible. Remember, that was after God had shown Israel nothing but grace and forgiveness since He chose Abram out of all the ancients.
      Did God institute His Sabbath for His disobedient people Israel, or for all who obeyed Him by faith? As God's resting place was never in a temple built by men, the Sabbath rest He commanded for His people was never to be limited to the seventh day of the weekly calendar. God intended His literal, periodic Sabbath only for a shadow of the True Sabbath to come, in the Person of His Son, God incarnate. Only those who, by faith, enter the eternal life of Christ Jesus, may enter into God's Eternal Rest, because they are One and the same.

No comments: