Lauantai 22.9.2018
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Tomuun vaipuneet, herätkää ja riemuitkaa! Sinun kimaltava aamukasteesi virvoittaa maan, ja niin maa palauttaa kuolleet elämään. Jes. 26:19

The blessing of the Sabbath

in English 17.12.2014 17:37 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
Man needs rest. God gave mankind the Sabbath day as a blessing and a source of joy. The most important message of the commandment ”Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” is the sanctification of the holy day. We can take a break from the busyness of everyday life and quieten to hear God’s word.
The day of rest, that was blessed and sanctified by God, is important. But we may forget it’s meaning. Even the people of Israel forgot it’s meaning. This is why God had to give a reminder in the third commandment (Exo 20:8).

In the commandment ”Remember the Sabbath day”, there are two parts: rest and sanctification. Both of them, understood in the correct way, include God’s blessing. Rest is part of a temporal blessing and imperative for coping with daily life. The correct sanctification of the Sabbath day includes an eternal blessing, because it leads us to God’s word. That is the core of the entire Sabbath day: God’s word is kept holy every day. The Sabbath day is for mankind, God’s gift to us as a blessing and joy.

The blessing of rest

The day of rest is part of the creation order: we have been created to need rest. ”For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Exo. 20:11).

The body and mind are refreshed in rest. It is good to stop and think about those issues which might weigh one down. Would there be reason to give up those things on the Sabbath day so that there would time for rest? Spending time outdoors and in nature provides complete rest for the body and mind. The day of rest is also a great opportunity to spend time with family when there are no pressures from everyday busyness.

With God’s permission and commandment, we can spend one day without doing work. On the other hand, it is also a question of trusting in the care of the Heavenly Father. Is a sixth day of work enough? ”Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.” (Exo. 34:21). This also surely includes God’s great wisdom.

The commandments can easily become does and don’ts, and we might watch to see who complies with them. Can this or that be done on a holy day? In Jesus’ time, even the Pharisees used the God-given Sabbath in the wrong way to make a law. They made a list of things that were denied on the Sabbath. They became the stipulations for salvation. The gospels tell how Jesus often ended up debating with the Pharisees over the question of the Sabbath. The points of view were obvious. To Jesus, even the Sabbath was the gospel: the good word and a gift from God. ” And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). One can do good even on the Sabbath day. We have permission to enjoy the Sabbath.

God’s word and never-ending blessing

The most important part of this two-part commandment is to keep the Sabbath day holy. The echoing church bells on Saturday evening remind us of the third commandment, the beginning of the Sabbath day and it’s sanctification. Luther proclaims in the Large Catachism that the Sabbath day does not need sanctification on it’s own. It was created holy. But God still wants us to keep it holy. What does this then mean? Luther explains the third commandment: ”We should fear and love God that we may not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it.”

Sunday, the day of Jesus’ arising and the Christian’s holy day, is above all a day for God’s word. Hearing and reading God’s word convey to us the ever-lasting blessing upon which we live and die. The gospel, which is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit, tells of Christ. It gives Christ as a gift to the listener, cleanses the heart through faith and gives strength.

The Bible tells that Jesus went on the Sabbath day to the synagogue, as was his habit. Jesus was an example to us: he sanctified the Sabbath day by going to hear the sermon. Also, the Christians in the early congregations gathered together regularly for worship services. It is told of in Acts: ”And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42).

God serves with his word and sacraments. In this way, the Sabbath day is also created for mankind. We are to be served; it is a true place of rest, an oasis. A beautiful church sanctuary, children’s voices in the service hall, a powerfully-sung hymn and the Bible’s eternal message create a holy atmosphere and also make the day of rest a day of celebration. Also, experiencing the connection of faith in services, church, and meeting with believers feels as a blessing and gives strength. The blessing of the Sabbath day flows from God into our lives through rest and, above all, God’s word.

The heavenly Father has promised through his word that one day believers will be able to experience the true Sabbath day: ”There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Heb. 4:9-11).


Text Albert Halonen
Translation A. H.
Published SRK Vuosikirja Ajankohtaista 2013 / Siunaus

Tekstissä käsitellään seuraavia raamatunkohtia: Matt. 28:18
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliiteessä 11/2014.

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