Monday, April 30, 2018
Sabbath - Part Two
The word Sabbath in both its Hebrew and Greek forms means to repose, to rest, to cease from exertion. It speaks of coming into a state of restfulness where Yahweh’s creation is not striving in any manner, but all is in complete harmony with the Creator.
Today mankind frequently associates the term Sabbath with a day that occurs once a week in which physical work is not performed. This is viewing Sabbath on a purely physical plane, and it leads to many false understandings. When one understands Sabbath aright they will understand that a person can be in a state of complete rest before God while physically they appear to be laboring. The Jews did not understand this so they condemned Yahshua and His disciples as Sabbath breakers. The Jews saw Yahshua’s disciples threshing grain in their hands on the Sabbath day and they condemned them for it (Matthew 12:1-8). Similarly they condemned Yahshua for healing on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:10-14).
The problem for the Jews then is the same problem many have in Christianity today. Men look at things outwardly, on the surface, without discerning what it is that God is intending. Yahweh desires that all men come to a state of rest before Him. He desires that men should cease from their own labors and that they only do the things He leads them to do. Yahweh desires for man to come to an end of personal initiative; for man to set himself to do nothing that arises from his own soul. This is the Sabbath that He desires.
Yahshua proclaimed that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). His whole life was an example of true rest before the Father. The essence of this rest is found in His following words.
"I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
Yahshua therefore said, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”
Yahshua said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”
"For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.”
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”
In these words, which Yahshua often repeated, we see what it is to truly enter into God’s rest. Entering into His rest requires ceasing from one’s own labors (Hebrews 4:10). Sabbath is not defined by what a man is doing externally, it is defined by being in a state of perfect harmony and agreement with God. When a man no longer seeks his own will; when he no longer goes his own way; when he is no longer guided by his intellect and reason; when he has died to all personal initiative; when he only does the will of the Father - then he has entered into rest.
It is revealed in Yahshua’s words that the rest we are to enter into extends even as far as the words we speak. Yahshua proclaimed that He did not speak a word of His own initiative. He only spoke that which the Father gave Him to speak. This is perfect rest. It is true Sabbath.
It mattered not whether Yahshua and His disciples were doing something physically that looked like work on the Sabbath day. If they were doing the will of the Father then they were at perfect rest, they were fulfilling Sabbath. Sabbath is not determined by external observation, it is an inward state of complete agreement with the Father. Sabbath is perfect obedience. It is doing precisely what the Father wills for man to do, no more and no less.
When Yahshua was condemned by the Jews for healing on the Sabbath, He revealed to them what true Sabbath was, but they did not have ears to hear it.
And for this reason the Jews were persecuting Yahshua, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. But He answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working."
In another place Yahshua said that He was always beholding the Father, and He was doing those things He saw the Father doing. Yahshua healed on the Sabbath day because He saw the Father healing on the Sabbath day. This is what He declared to the Jews that they did not understand. True Sabbath is doing what the Father is doing. True Sabbath is obedience to what He reveals we are to be doing.
If Yahshua had observed the Father healing on the Sabbath day, and He had refused to do so Himself, He would have been a Sabbath breaker. When the Father makes His will known to us in any instance, we are at rest when we obey. We fail to enter into rest when we refuse to obey.
The Jews only saw the external type that was given to represent Sabbath. They saw the Law which said that work was not to be done on the seventh day. Yet they failed to see what the Law was truly typifying. Yahweh was not concerned that man should rest from all physical labor one day a week. However, He was immensely concerned that man should not do anything that originated outside of the will of God. The Laws concerning the Sabbath day were merely types and shadows, but the Jews could not get past the types and shadows to see the true fulfillment.
Yahshua was fulfilling Sabbath completely by never doing anything of His own initiative. Sabbath was not fulfilled by adhering to that which was a shadow of the Sabbath. Yahshua walked in the substance while the rest of the Jews were walking in shadows and figures. The Jews would refrain from physical labor one day a week, but they failed to truly walk in Sabbath. If they had known true Sabbath rest they would not have condemned One who was walking in complete harmony with the will of the Father.
The whole Godhead is in a state of Sabbath rest. There is only one will, the will of the Father. The Son is in complete agreement with the will of the Father, being fully surrendered to the carrying out of His will. Likewise the Spirit is in complete agreement with the Son, carrying out His will.
"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
Yahweh is looking for man to also enter into this place of rest where there is no initiative anywhere in creation other than Yahweh’s own initiative. When the Father wills one thing, and others will something else, no matter how noble or good it appears, this is defined as striving. Striving is willing something that has not originated in the mind of the Father.
Christianity is striving continuously. They are always willing things the Father is not willing. They are continuously setting their hands to do things which they have not received by the Spirit of God. It does not matter how noble or right it seems. A person can share the gospel with another human being and be striving. A person can heal the sick and be striving. A person can cast out a demon and be striving. A person can prophesy and be striving. A person can perform all manner of miracles and be striving.
How can these things be? How could it be striving and sin to do any of these things? The answer is revealed in the following words of Yahshua.
“Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
The Lord reveals that on the day of judgment there will be many who will come to Him thinking they will receive praise and honor, yet dishonor and punishment will be their portion. What is the sin that these have committed? Their actions were that they were prophesying in His name, they were casting out demons in His name, and they were performing miracles in His name. What could possibly be wrong with these activities? Why are these people condemned as those who practice lawlessness?
Yahshua is not speaking against adulterers, thieves, or murderers here. Such transgressions were clearly forbidden in the ten commandments. If one has eyes to see, however, they will realize that what is spoken of here is also in violation of one of the commandments. The commandment is “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.”
As we have already defined Sabbath, it is entering into the rest of God. Sabbath is only doing that which the Father leads us to do. Whether one does an apparently good act, or an evil act, it is still a violation of Sabbath if the Father is not the originator of it. Any activity arising of man’s own initiative, even seemingly good deeds, is a violation of Sabbath. Yahshua did all of the things He spoke of in this passage; He prophesied, He cast out demons, and He performed miracles. However, He never did any of these things of His own initiative. He only did that which the Father instructed Him to do.
It was very possible for Yahshua to do miraculous works of His own initiative. Before He began His ministry He was tempted in this very point. After fasting for forty days in the wilderness we are told that He was hungry. Satan came to tempt Him and his first temptation was for Christ to turn the stones into bread and thereby satisfy His hunger. Yahshua could have done this.
One might ask, “What would be the evil of such an act?” Yahshua was hungry. He was the Son of God. It wouldn’t have hurt any man or any part of creation to turn the stones into bread. It would have only violated one thing, it would not have been the Father’s will.
And the tempter came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"
Yahshua understood this matter of Sabbath and doing the Father’s will, and His answer to Satan addresses this very important point. In essence He said, “True life is found in doing only those things which God reveals to us.” In another place Yahshua said, “My meat is to do the will of the Father who sent Me” (John 4:34). The Father already had a provision for His Son’s hunger. After Satan departed we are told, “and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him” (Matthew 4:11).
Christianity at large does not understand this most vital concept. If put in a similar circumstance, how many saints would consider whether doing an act within their power is the will of the Father? Most only think of what they are able to do. They give no thought to whether the Father would have them do it. It is possible to prophesy, and many do so very often. Few consider whether the Father would have them do so. They only concern themselves with “Can I prophesy?” They do that which seems good to them, falsely believing that any prophesying is pleasing to the Father if it is a true word of prophecy.
Many saints are involved in casting out demons, and again most only concern themselves with whether or not they can do so, not considering whether it is the will of the Father. The same is true of performing miracles, including miracles of healing. There are some who say that it is always the Father’s will to heal and there is no need to seek the mind of the Father in this issue. Such people are deluded and they should take the words of Yahshua to heart. He said, “Many will come to Me in that day” and they will say, “Did we not do these things in Your name?”
The word many in this passage can have the connotation of meaning the majority. How incredible to think that the majority of saints will stand before Christ in judgment and they will falsely believe that they were pleasing God when they were doing all of these works of their own initiative. Yahshua clearly defines in this passage what pleases His Father. The one who will enter into the kingdom of heaven is “he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
The saint who only considers what he can do is on the wrong track. His first thought should always be to discern the mind of the Father in any matter. If the majority of saints are displeasing to the Father, then there is no value in being in the majority. Simply because the masses of Christendom are thinking and acting in a certain manner is no reason to join them. What comfort will there be in knowing that you and a majority of saints hear the words, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”?
To those who still doubt the meaning of Yahshua’s words here, consider why He referred to these who were doing this prophesying, casting out demons, and miracles as those “who practice lawlessness.” Lawlessness is the state of being out from under authority. Lawlessness is having your own law, disregarding the established law.
Yahweh is the only true law. He alone has the power to determine what man should do. Yahshua proclaims that men who do the will of the Father in heaven will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Those who fail to do His will are considered lawless, even if their actions are seemingly good, and even if they appear to be of a supernatural nature.
You may wonder that the saints could perform such supernatural deeds if the Father is not directing them to do so. How could they have the power to do these things unless the Spirit is guiding and leading? The scriptures plainly reveal that men can do so. Yahshua could have turned the stones to bread, and likewise Yahshua has given the same power and authority that He walked in to mankind. Consider the implications of the following passage of scripture.
I Corinthians 14:27-33
If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
The church in Corinth was a church that was out of order. There was great confusion in their meetings, and this confusion was not the will of God. What was the source of confusion? Were people fighting and screaming and fornicating and indulging in every form of debauchery in their meetings? No! (Although, these things did exist among them.) Their chaos was the result of people exercising spiritual gifts. They were speaking in tongues and prophesying, but it was sheer bedlam.
Did Paul say that these people were prophesying and speaking in tongues by the power of Satan? No, he never asserted any such thing. The anointing of God was present in these things, but these saints had not learned that they needed to submit all such activity to the Father and to seek His mind and His will. To exercise these spiritual gifts apart from the leading of the Father is lawlessness, and lawlessness leads to chaos, which is what they had in their meetings.
Did you note Paul’s words, “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets”? In essence he is telling them, “Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do a thing. Just because you can speak in tongues doesn’t mean you must. Just because you can give a word of prophecy doesn’t mean you have to do so. You can control yourself. The spirit within you is subject to you.”
Some saints mistakenly think that every time they sense a tongue or a prophecy is present within them that they must speak it out, even if it causes a disruption to the assembled body. No! Paul is saying, “You can control it. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”
The Father is not honored when people speak a tongue, when they prophesy, when they cast out demons, when they perform miracles. He is only glorified when people do these things as He directs them. Yahshua did not heal every leper. He did not open the eyes of every blind man. He did not heal all those who were sick. He only did those things the Father led Him to do. He did nothing of His own initiative.
What a critical matter this is. Christianity is running over with personal initiative. There is little consideration for the will of the Father. People only consider what they can do, disregarding whether it is the will of the Father. For this reason the majority will appear before the Lord on that day of judgment and He will say, “Depart from Me, you lawless ones.”
If the Corinthian believers had considered the words of Yahshua they would have seen their own error. He said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak” (John 12:49). Yahshua could have spoken many profound things. He could have proclaimed mysteries. He could have spoken astonishing revelations. When He taught He could have spoken plainly instead of cloaking His meaning in parables. He could have done all of these things, even as saints today can speak many things, but He did not do so. He only spoke that which the Father commanded Him to speak, and so should we.
There are many things people can do today, but they are not all the will of the Father. Many saints mistakenly believe that because something is supernatural that the Father must be the author of it. This is not true in the supernatural realm anymore than it is in the natural.
In the natural realm we are told that all things in heaven and earth have been created by God, and in Him all things consist or hold together (Colossians 1:16-17). The presence of God is everywhere in His creation, and we are told that He is “over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). Yet just because He is present in His whole creation we cannot argue that everything done by man is the will of the Father.
Man was created by God, and man’s abilities were given to him by the same. The power of procreation is one such ability, and indeed there is much that is supernatural in this ability of man. We cannot say that because man can go out and have relations with any woman he desires, and that this intimacy can result in offspring coming forth, that it is the will of God that man do so. In fact, we have clear words from the Father telling us that it is His will that man should NOT be promiscuous in this manner. Yet the Father allows man to do this if he should desire.
It is no different in spiritual matters. The Holy Spirit has given gifts to men in the church, and they can exercise them much as they please, but it is not the will of the Father that they do so. A saint cannot assert that because he was able to prophesy that it was the Father’s will, anymore than he can say that because he could raise up offspring by a woman that is not his wife that it was the Father’s will. The scriptures state that spiritual gifts are good, given to edify the body, and it also states that children are a blessing from God. However, both spiritual gifts and the power of procreation can be misused in a lawless manner.
As one considers this, and as they understand what Sabbath truly means - perfect agreement with the Father and His will in every situation, it is possible to see that virtually all of the sins of this world are the result of Sabbath breaking. They are the result of man doing something of his own initiative.
Entering into the Sabbath rest of God is to embrace death to initiative. We are at rest when everything that the Father wills becomes our will. We are at rest when we have no initiative of our own, no will of our own in any matter. Even if we should discern that the will of the Father will lead us to places that are painful we should seek to proclaim as did Yahshua, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Thy will be done.” This is Sabbath rest.
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