Wednesday, April 30, 2014

“Christ and the Sabbath”

Insights #5 May 3, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ and the Sabbath"
For the week of May 3, 2014

"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Col 1:16,17.

The "all things" in Colossians chapter 1 includes the Sabbath. But in our study this week we explore the special way the Sabbath is linked to our relationship, our understanding of the character of Christ, and thus of God, whom He came to reveal. And the link of the Sabbath with the creative and redemptive power of God is unmistakeable.

As Seventh-day Adventists, who believe in the imminent return of the Lord of the Sabbath, we must realize that we have just scratched the surface of the truth of the Sabbath. We are familiar with the counsel of the True Witness in Revelation 3 that we are blind to just how much we need from Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath itself is the means by which the revelation and transformation of the power of God in our lives is to be manifested.

Perhaps no better chapter in Scripture provides insights into how the righteousness of Christ is revealed in the Sabbath than Isaiah 58. We are counseled that this chapter is present truth for us:

"The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah contains present truth for the people of God.  Here we see how medical missionary work and the gospel ministry are to be bound together as the message is given to the world. Upon those who keep the Sabbath of the Lord is laid the responsibility of doing a work of mercy and benevolence. Medical missionary work is to be bound up with the message, and sealed with the seal of God."--Manuscript 22, 1901.  (Ev 516.4)

As we see in the multitude of Sabbath healings that Christ performed, the love of God is revealed in practical acts of benevolence. In Isaiah 58 we find that the Loud Cry includes a rebuke for God's people who do not yet have the religious experience of the indwelling Christ - that which the Sabbath is to provide.
"Cry aloud, spare not;
Lift up your voice like a trumpet;
Tell My people their transgression,
And the house of Jacob their sins.

"Yet they seek Me daily,
And delight to know My ways,
As a nation that did righteousness,
And did not forsake the ordinance of their God.
They ask of Me the ordinances of justice;
They take delight in approaching God." Is 58:1,2.

The extent to which we fail to see the truth of the righteousness of Christ as the indwelling power given as a gift to humanity in the presence of Christ is the extent to which our religious experience will fall short of true religion and remain self focused, as we see in verses 3-6.  Breaking the yoke (vs 6) includes correcting the wrongs of resisting the spirit of God.

Just as surely as we believe in Jesus Christ and do His will, not exalting self, but walking in all humility of mind, just so sure will the Lord be with us. But He despises your fierce spirit. He is grieved with the hardness of your hearts. Pray Him to give you a heart of flesh, that can always feel and be touched with human woe; a heart that will not turn a deaf ear to the widow or to the fatherless; that has bowels of mercy for the poor, the infirm, and the oppressed; that loves justice and hates robbery; that will not make a difference in your favor but will consider the needy. Then the promises revealed in Isaiah 58 will be experienced by you.

But you will need to make straight paths for your feet, lest the lame be turned out of the way. We are surrounded by the lame and halting in faith. Then help them, not by halting yourselves, but by standing like men--firm, tried, proved men--firm as a rock for principle. I know that a work must be done for the people or many will not receive the light of the angel which is sent from heaven to fill the whole earth with his glory.  

"Do not think that when the latter rain comes you will be a vessel unto honor to receive the showers of blessing--even the glory of God--when you have been lifting up your souls unto vanity, speaking perverse things, secretly cherishing the roots of bitterness you brought to Minneapolis, which you have carefully cultivated and watered ever since. The frown of God will surely be upon every soul who manifests a spirit so unlike the spirit and mind of Christ. There is work to do in your own individual hearts, else you will sow tares. When the Lord touches your lips with a live coal from off His altar, then the trumpet of every true watchman will give a certain sound--very different from that which we have heard." (1888 Materials, p. 946)

It is these works of relieving those burdened down by the lies of Satan in regard to the character of God that are needed, along with genuine medical missionary work in relieving the physical needs of others. In the revival of medical missionary work that we are witnessing today, we must have the healing balm of the 1888 message!

"Then [after they do these works of mercy and necessity] shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward" (Isaiah 58:8).  {1SM 99.3}  
"We are to put into practice the precepts of the law, and thus have righteousness before us; the rearward will be God's glory. The light of the righteousness of Christ will be our front guard, and the glory of the Lord will be our rearward. Let us thank the Lord for this assurance. Let us constantly stand in a position where the Lord God of heaven can favor us. Let us consider that it is our high privilege to be in connection with God--to be His helping hand."  (1SM 99.4)

Explore the rest of Isaiah 58 and see how this week's lesson comes alive for your Sabbath School class!
-Todd Guthrie

For Further reading:

December 10, 1900

"The Sabbath and Salvation" The Bible Echo 15, 50.

God is the Creator of all things. That fact constitutes His right to rule. "Know ye that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, and we are His." Ps. 100:3. "The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God." Ps. 95:3-7. The last proclamation of the everlasting Gospel which is to be preached just before the end, "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people" as a witness to all nations, the announcement the fulness of which is to make ready a people prepared for the coming of Christ, is this: "Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come; and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." Rev. 14:7. But this knowledge is just that which the Sabbath is designed to keep in our mind. "He hath made a memorial for His wonderful works." Through His work we have salvation; in the works of His hands we triumph; therefore the Sabbath, which makes known to us the wonderful, finished works of the Lord, is that which reveals to us to the full the sanctifying power of God. Thus it is the seal of God, which the Holy Spirit will put upon all true believers who live till the coming of the Lord. And as the forgiveness of sins, when fully appreciated, brings with it the healing of all diseases, and the healing of the body is the outward, visible sign of Christ's power to cleanse from sin, it was most fitting that some of the most wonderful works of healing should take place on the Sabbath day. It was to show that the Sabbath brings God's perfect root to both soul and body.   Whatever God blesses He makes a means of blessing. "God blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." He sent it forth on its mission of carrying blessing to mankind. It is a truth that God has poured out His blessings freely on all men; the very possession of life is the blessing of the Creator; but it is the Sabbath that makes known to mankind the fulness of God's blessing. It brings with it to all who accept it for just what it is, the knowledge of such a blessing as they never before dreamed of, no matter how long they have had experience as Christians. It was given in Eden, and pertains to Eden, and brings the joy of Eden with it. It is, in fact, a remnant of Eden left in this sin-cursed world, to win us to Eden restored. In it we find the power of the world to come. "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath," says the Lord, "from doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father [and that heritage is Christ]; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isa. 58:13, 14. Oh then, "taste, and see that the Lord is good." Accept His perfect rest,-His Sabbath,-and keep it, and know now the joy of the Lord. -E. J. WAGGONER. (December 10, 1900 EJW, BEST 795-6.)

"My heart rejoiced as I heard the people acknowledge that they were obtaining an education in faith which they had never had before, and that Jesus was precious to their souls. They said that they had never before known by an experimental knowledge what the love of God was, but now they had heard, they had believed, and they would go forth to preach as they had never before preached the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. They felt that indeed they had had a new conversion. Their souls were free, their sins forgiven, the love of Jesus was in their hearts. The tenderness of heart, the contrition of spirit that makes evident the work of the Holy Spirit and grace of Christ in the soul. The Sabbath came to us as a joy, a blessing. We hailed the Sabbath with grateful hearts as the best Sabbath we had ever enjoyed. The half-past five meeting commenced where the evening meeting closed. Every heart seemed to respond to the love of God, and souls were burdened to express the precious love they had found."  (1888 286.3)  

"The third angel's message calls for the presentation of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, and this truth must be brought before the world; but the great Center of attraction, Jesus Christ, must not be left out of the third angel's message. By many who have been engaged in the work for this time, Christ has been made secondary, and theories and arguments have had the first place. The glory of God that was revealed to Moses in regard to the divine character has not been made prominent. The Lord said to Moses, 'I will make all my goodness pass before thee.' 'And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.'"  (1888 1225.1)  

"The Sabbath meetings, the morning and evening worship in the home, the services held in the chapel, -- all should be vitalized by the Spirit of Christ. Each member of the sanitarium family should confess Christ openly and with gladness, expressing
the joy and comfort and hope that is written in the song. Christ is to be set forth as the Chiefest among ten thousand, and the One altogether lovely. He is to be set forth as the Giver of every good and perfect gift, the One in whom our hopes of eternal life are centered. If we would do this, all narrowness must be set aside, and we must call into exercise the love of Christ. The joy we experience in this love will be a blessing to others."  (LLM 245.6)

"Don't tell them the Sabbath the first thing, but let them see Christ, and then they will ask about the Sabbath. Let them see the Bible in the lives about them. Let them lead out and ask you questions and they will see that the Lord is working, and in this way God will manifest Himself through His people."  (PCO 134.1)

Raul Diaz