Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, and author of Biblical Prayer for Today's Believers: Transform Your Prayer Life (available on Amazon).
God's Basic Life Rhythm for Humanity
God’s word tells us that, from the beginning of creation, He has expected humanity (those whom He created in His own image) to follow a very specific rhythm in their lives, a very particular beat—and that beat was supposed to be the pulse of human life.
For those of you who wonder what the word rhythm is, Oxford Dictionaries tells us that it is
"a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound"
So, if you want to hear the beat of your heart, it goes something like this:
ta TUM, ta TUM, ta TUM, ta TUM
One two; one two; one two
The song we just hard had the following rhythm:
Ta ta TUM, ta ta TUM, ta ta Tum, ta ta TUM
One, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three;
Now, the rhythm God gave humanity is different — it goes like this:
ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, TUM; ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, TUM; ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, TUM;
one, two, three, four, five, six, SEVEN
one, two, three, four, five, six, SEVEN
one, two, three, four, five, six, SEVEN
But this is not a biological rhythm, like the rhythm of your heart; nor is it a musical rhythm, like the the music of the song. Instead, it is a daily rhythm and a spiritual rhythm.
Now, I know you’re probably wondering what on Earth I am talking about?
To find out, read what the Bible has to say:
“2And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 3:2-3, ESV)
God demonstrated to humanity that the right way to live is work on day one, work on day two, work on day three, work on day four, work on day five, work on day six, and rest on day seven.
Work, work, work, work, work, work, Rest; Work, work, work, work, work, work, Rest
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve rebelled against God; then Cain and his descendants rebelled against God; the all of humanity rebelled against God—so God sent the flood to judge all humanity. Then humanity rebelled again by building the tower of Babel, so God confused their languages so they would stop building the tower. And we really don’t read anything about the Sabbath again in Genesis.
God's Basic Life Rhythm for Israel
So, after God delivered Israel from Egypt, and after He brought them to Mount Sinai, God gave them a Law—some 613 commandments. Now, the preamble to the Law was the ten commandments.
The last six commandments have to do with how people should behave in regards to other people, but the first four commandments have to do with how people should behave in regards to God.
Do you remember the first four commandments?
- Have no other gods before Yahweh (Exodus 20:3)
- Do not make idols to worship (Exodus 20:4)
- Do not take God’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7)
- Remember the Sabbath to keep it Holy (Exodus 20:8)
In fact, let’s go ahead and read this commandment:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11, ESV)
So, since humanity didn’t get it the first time, God now gave Israel a very specific commandment of what this whole thing about the seventh day meant—
No one is supposed to work on the seventh day—neither you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your animals, nor the foreigners in your nation. It is a day of rest, and it is a holy day. Two important things—day of rest and holy day, day of rest and holy day, day of rest and holy day.
And in case you don’t get how important this is, God gave them an additional commandment:
"You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people." (Exodus 31:14, ESV)
Why? Why did God appoint the death penalty for anyone who failed to observe the Sabbath in Israel?
I think that part of the answer is found in Israel’s calling:
"Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exodus 19:5-6)
Israel would not be like other nations of the world, Israel was chosen for a specific role in the world—that of being priests, that of serving God. And make no mistake, serving God is a matter of life and death. It is a great privilege, but it is also a great responsibility.
I think another part of the answer is to understand the role of the Sabbath: the Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic Covenant, of God’s covenant with Israel through Moses at Sinai. The sing of the Abrahamic Covenant was circumcision, but the sing of the Mosaic Covenant was the Sabbath. If you broke the Sabbath, you pretty much broke the entire law.
Look at the verses below:
“You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. (Exodus 31:13, ESV)_
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. (Ezekiel 20:12, ESV)
"And keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God."(Ezekiel 20:20, ESV)
So basically, if you disregarded the Sabbath, you were disregarding God and his calling, you were abandoning your faith and your people. It was a serious crime before God.
By keeping the Sabbath, the people of Israel were saying: I believe that Yahweh is my God and the creator of everything that exists, and I have accepted his calling for our nation to be a kingdom of holy priests before Him.
You didn’t like the rules? Fine, then leave—go live somewhere else, or else… or else you’ll suffer the consequences.
But Israel broke God’s law, including the Sabbath:
But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness. They did not walk in my statutes but rejected my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live; and my Sabbaths they greatly profaned. (Ezekiel 20:13, ESV)
So what happened? God delivered the people into the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, and the city was destroyed, and the temple was destroyed, and the people were carried away captive to Babylon.
What Jesus Taught about The Sabbath
So, after the people returned from Babylon and rebuilt the city and the temple and the nation, they decided let’s make sure we don’t break God’s law again, especially the Sabbath—but they made yet another mistake.
They didn’t break the Sabbath, but they came up with a list of things not to do in the Sabbath are overbearing, overwhelming, and showed that they did not understand the spiritual principle behind the Sabbath.
In Mark 3:1-6, we read that Jesus performed a healing miracle on the Sabbath. Now, there is no law in the Bible that says that a prophet cannot heal a man on the Sabbath—that would be insane, because if God wants to heal someone on the Sabbath, He can. God is not bound to the law of the Sabbath—it is man who is under the Law, not God.
In John 5:17, Jesus said to them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17, ESV).
God did not stop working on the seventh day after creation—He rested from all His works of creation. But God is always working. He does not get tired, He does not slumber, He does not sleep (Psalm 121:4). God is always working, the Sabbath does not apply to God, if He wants to heal someone on Sabbath, He can—
And why wouldn’t He want to heal someone on the Sabbath? Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27)
The reason God created the Sabbath was for the benefit of humanity—so humanity could have a day to rest from working, but not only rest—but a to also be blessed by God, be spiritually fed by God, be spiritually nourished by God. So if God would tell a prophet to heal someone on the Sabbath, there was no problem with it; and certainly God had directed Jesus to heal on the Sabbath, for the man was healed. Had God not wanted Jesus to heal because it was the Sabbath, God would not have healed anyone. Look at what Jesus said:
"Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them." (John 9:16, ESV)
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 authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. (John 14:10, ESV)
Friends, God made the Sabbath for a very special reason—so that human beings can have a time to rest and focus on what is truly important in life: our relationship with God.
Unfortunately, Israel's religiuous leaders rejected Jesus and His teaching about the Sabbath.
But not all Israel failed to believe Jesus. In the Book of Acts, there were approximately 120 Jews who were waiting on the promises of the Holy Spirit as Jesus had told them to do.
And on the day of Pentecost, approximately 3,000 Jews converted to Jesus and followed Jesus instructions.
This first church actually followed the instructions of Jesus, and they understood His message. So they didn’t only keep the Sabbath, but look in Acts 2:
They met daily in the temple and in their houses (Acts 2:47). There is no way they would have gone to the temple every day of the week except the Sabbath and there is no way they would have had favor with all the people (the people of Israel) had they not been observing the Sabbath.
The church got it… the church understood the message of God through Jesus… and because they understood it, they wanted more of it—they wanted more spiritual nourishment from God, more blessings in their lives, so they met not only in the Sabbath, but every day!
Listen, as we read the book of Acts, there is no evidence that the first Christians ever gave up obeying the Sabbath. In fact, from Acts 13:42 and 13:44, the picture that we get is that those Jews and proselytes who converted appeared to continue to meet every Sabbath.
Now in Acts 15:21, it appears that the apostles and the elders of the church in Jerusalem, although they did not impose the Sabbath on the believers, they assumed that as the gentiles joined the local synagogues that followed Jesus, they would worship on the Sabbath.
God's Basic Life Rhythm for the Church
There really is no instance in the Bible when the Sabbath was switched to Sunday. The reason why we worship on Sunday, why we go to church on Sundays, is tradition—in the fourth century, Constatine turned the Sunday into a Christian Sabbath…
Perhaps to Christianize pagan Rome, which worshipped their own gods on Sundays; and perhaps to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection, which was early morning, on the first day of the week, after the Sabbath—when the women were finally able to walk to the tomb according to Jewish law to treat the body of Jesus with perfumes.
What about Psalm 118:24?
22 The stone that the builders rejected
23 This is the LORD’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
What about Psalm 118:24? Well, the New Testament never uses this passage to teach that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday; and other interpretations of the verse are possible, for example: maybe the day that the Lord has made refers to the one day when Jesus resurrected, or maybe it refers to the entire age of Christ. Maybe what it means is: accept Jesus Christ and rejoice!
But don’t freak out:
First of all, a correct interpretation of the Mosaic Law takes into account that the Law, including the ten commandments, was given to Israel, not to the gentiles and not to the church—and this includes the commandment regarding the Sabbath.
Second, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law and we are no longer under the Law.
But third, nothing of this means that we cannot learn from the principle of the commandment of the Sabbath—and what is that principle?
That we must take time from our busy schedules to rest physically and to focus on our relationship God not only as individuals, but as a community. And this we learn from Acts 2—How? Because in Acts 2 we see that God has called the church not to meet on the Sabbath, or on Sundays, but to live together as a family, and to worship the Lord as a family—and how are we going to do that if we don’t even come to church on Sundays for one hour and a half. Out of 168 hours in the week, out of approximately 112 making hours in the week, we can’t give God one and half hours of our time? If that’s the case, something is very wrong with the rhythm of our lives. The commandment of the Sabbath represents the very minimum for us to meet and worship the Lord together.
The author of Hebrews, most likely Paul, puts it this way:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)
The problem is that if we neglect to meet together as a church faithfully, we may eventually give up on our faith—and that will invite either discipline or judgment in our lives.
Israel profaned God’s sabbaths because they had idols in their hearts, and some of you have idols too—different idols: your work, your family, football, the beach, your friends, your bed, alcohol, etc. And that’s why you’re neglecting to meet faithfully and consistently with the church—and we meet twice a week, once on Sundays for the general service, and the other in the middle of the week for our connection group.
Put away your idols and come to church—Jesus wants to heal you even on the Sabbath, God wants to bless you at least once a week, the reason why the Bible teaches what it teaches about the Sabbath is because you need it in your life, you need God’s blessing, you need God to work in you, you need God to intervene in your life. It’s all for God’s glory, it’s a sign of our faith and devotion to our God, but it is also there for your good.
Do you want to be blessed by God? Do you want to live a spiritually healthy life? Then you need to stop beating at the sound of your own drum, and you need to follow God’s beat: you need to at least come to church every Sunday, and I also exhort you to attend a connection group in the middle of the week.
So today, when you go out of here, you and your family have to draft a plan for how you’re going to make this work—because if you don’t have a plan, your flesh will take over—and let me tell you, the Devil already has a plan for you.
I think we can all understand that seasons come when you have to work on Sundays, or maybe you have a vacation, or maybe your mom came from the other side of the world to visit you. But if this happens over and over and over again, you’re going to fall.
Remember what the Bible says:
"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)
How are you going to put that into practice if you aren’t even coming top church on Sundays? You wont’t. Make that plan today, rehires the plan in the middle of the week, and then put it into action every Sunday.
© 2021 Marcelo Carcach