Sermon delivered September 23, 2000 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

Sabbath: A Day of Blessing

When I was a boy Lincoln Logs were a Sabbath toy but my Gilbert Erector set was not. And neither was my Chemistry set. When our kids were growing up Lego Blocks were okay as long as we built a Sabbath project with our Lego. We consider walking as a proper Sabbath activity but people raise their eyebrows at jogging? Many people consider jogging wrong. Why? I don't know... Maybe because jogging makes us sweat?!? Maybe it's too much like work.

Today I want to broaden our possibilities of Sabbath-keeping. I want you to think of some positive things, immense blessings that God has given to you in the twenty-four hours of storehouse of what we call the Sabbath, amazing things that we can do on the Sabbath day. True Sabbath keeping is an opportunity, not a millstone. I want you to view it that way.

Let me clarify, first, why we keep the Sabbath. Do you know why I keep the Sabbath? Because I love Jesus. Is there any better reason than that? I want to tell you that Sabbath keeping is not and has never been the basis salvation for anybody from Adam and Eve until today. We are not saved by keeping the Sabbath. Nobody ever has been. We have all been saved by Grace.

Romans 4:5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Everybody who makes it to heaven will be there courtesy of Jesus. One hundred percent saved by His grace. Would you agree with that? He is our Savior. Even Adam and Eve were saved by Jesus. Now, you may say: "How could that be, Jesus had not even died yet." Are you sure? Revelation 13:8 speaks of Jesus as the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. When was He slain? He was slain way back before the creation. Adam was saved looking ahead to Calvary and we are saved by looking back to the cross. Everybody is saved by Jesus Amazing Grace.

The Gospel is the good news that somebody else lived the life that I cannot live and died the death that I deserve, that I would have had to die, and gave me eternal life. That's why we keep the Sabbath. Not that we might be saved but because we are saved by grace.

Hebrews 10:14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Clearly if we are still being made holy, then we are not perfect in our deeds and actions yet, are we.

In Indiana there used to be a Holy Place Movement. Nobody is holy yet but we will be some day. So, we are saved by grace. Not by works. Therefore, why do we keep the Sabbath if we're not saved by works? If works has nothing to do with it then why should I keep the Sabbath? Sabbath keeping is my response, it is the fruit, the relationship with Jesus. Sabbath-keeping is the result of our Deliverance. It is our response to the gift of grace.

Let us go back now to where the seventh day is first mentioned in the Bible. Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Now, was God Exhausted from His work of creation? Was He physically tired? Does God get tired? No, God never gets tired, - Isaiah 40:28. The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.

He ceased from His work. God stopped laboring. I suppose He could have kept on creating another whole week. Just imagine what else we would have had. It's a good thing He stopped when he did. We can't even see it all in one lifetime. But He stopped creating, not because He was tired, but so He could stand back like sculptor and admire His work. If you make something nice, like the wood shop you're going to make when you get to heaven, if you make some nice piece of furniture you want to stand back and admire it and that's just what God did on the first Sabbath day. He took pleasure and joy, and that's just what you want to emulate in your Sabbath-keeping. You want to take pleasure and joy in admiring what God has made. That's a true key of Sabbath-keeping.

Come over here to Exodus 31. I want to read this in the King James Version because it brings out one word that really is meaningful in this context. Exodus 31:17 (KJV). It is a sign between the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. Don't you like that? After you drink a glass of lemonade you are refreshed. That's exactly what the Sabbath should do. It should leave you refreshed. You shouldn't be asking when is sundown. The Sabbath refreshes, it revives, it restores, it rejuvenates, it re-invigorates. That's the whole purpose of the Sabbath.

True Sabbath keeping is one day delighting in what the Creator has made. What did Adam and Eve do on the first Sabbath? Do you suppose they crashed. Do you suppose they spent Sabbath in bed? No! They had just been made of Friday. They weren't even tired. They hadn't even done anything much yet. They spent their first Sabbath, not in bed, but in getting tune in with God. You can be sure that's what they did. They wanted to learn more about God. They wanted to fellowship with God. They wanted to establish a relationship with God. That's what they did. And that is still the correct agenda for Sabbath-keeping. That's what you want to do.

You want to utilize those special Sabbath hours to discover more about Jesus. Working to the point of exhaustion during the week and crashing on Sabbath is not exactly true Sabbath keeping.

Genesis 2 says God blessed the Seventh day and made it holy. Think about that. Was Thursday unholy? Did God make only one day good? No. Were the other days good? Yes. In fact He pronounced them "good." So, what did He do different about the Sabbath day? He made it holy. Were the other days holy? Was the Sabbath more perfect that the other six days? No, because the Creator called them "good." He calls the Sabbath, "holy." We humans are good at dedicating babies and buildings. This church was dedicated once we paid for it. The family center was dedicated. We're good at dedicating monuments and parks and things like that. But how do you dedicate time? Isn't that hard to do? Human beings can't do that, and yet I would submit to you that buildings and belongings and monuments and lands can be taken away from us but time can never be removed. If you think about that, the very first building that was dedicated and made holy was the tabernacle. Do we have the tabernacle with us today? It's gone, isn't it. The temple was made holy. Do we have the temple today? No, it's gone. All those things are gone, but there's one thing that stems clear back to creation that we still have that was made holy and that is the twenty- four hour period of time called the Sabbath. That can't be taken away from you. That's eternal. It's equally available to all. It cannot be quantified. It cannot be bought. It cannot be sold. Praise God for the Sabbath. I'm glad He did that.

The seventh day is the very first thing in History to be hallowed. The Sabbath, a common ordinary day of the week acquired standing that correctly belongs to God alone. We don't call our ministers "Reverend" do we? Are we holy? Nothing is holy except God and the Sabbath. He made it holy. So there are two things at least that are holy. Because God is holy he created holy time. He blessed this day. He rested on this day. He Sanctified this day. He set this day aside, not for Himself, but for you benefit. I praise Him for that.

How many words are there in the Ten Commandments? I counted them in my King James Bible, and there are two hundred ninety seven words in the Ten Commandments. Do you know what the middle word is? A hundred forty eight words on each side. I'll point it out to you as we read the fourth commandment. Let's look at the precise wording of the Sabbath commandment: Exodus 20:8-11 Remember the Sabbath day (24 hours) by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is Is is the middle word of the Ten Commandments. The seventh day IS the Sabbath. I like that. This day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. Why was the Sabbath made? For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Now I want to switch gears. That happened back at creation when God made the Sabbath. I think the fourth commandment is a record of what happened back at creation. Then when Jesus arrived in this world and was born of Mary, He did something else. He again added additional rich significance to the meaning of the Sabbath. Jesus, our Co-Creator, rested again after He finished His work of re- creation. Now, you think about this. Stick with me on this. Four thousand years after creation Jesus again rested after His finished work of re-creation. I hadn't thought about this. In fact, in Genesis 2:1 it says that when the heavens and earth were "finished" immediately God rested.

Four thousand years later in John 19:30 we read of a great parallel. When He hung on the cross, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and died. He had finished His great work. And again He rested on the Sabbath day. Can you see the parallel? It happened at creation and it happened when Jesus was on the cross. He bowed His head. He had finished His great work.

So again Jesus rested after His work of recreation. He rested during the entire twenty-four hour period of Sabbath time. He rested in the tomb during the holy Sabbath hours. With that act Jesus widened the meaning of the Sabbath. From that point on the Sabbath would not only remind us of our creation, as it had been for four thousand years but also of our redemption through Jesus Christ. Now, Jesus added significance to the Sabbath by pointing to salvation. When I celebrate the Sabbath, I don't think only of creations, but also of salvation and my Savior who saved me. And He wants to re-create me.

It is interesting that we had no part in either our creation or our re-creation. All we can do is accept them both. Jesus is both our Creator and our Re-Creator.

In the future, at the third creation I suppose, when God creates the NEW heavens and the NEW earth. So I guess there are really three creations. The first one is in Genesis 1 and 2. The second one is when Jesus creates a new heart in us. Let me read this to you in Manuscript Releases, Volume 5, p. 359. "Christ put His hand a second time to the work. He would recreate man." You see, He did it four thousand years ago and now He recreates man. "And when the fullness of time came God sent forth His Son to recreate man." So that the second creation. The third creation is when He recreates the new heavens and a new earth. You can read that in Isaiah sixty six in your Bible. Jesus recreates the entire world again after it has been cleansed by the fire called Hell. So once again, after the millennium, the significance of the Sabbath will again widen to include remembering the day when Eden was restored.

The Creation of this present Earth Genesis 1:1 - Jesus made it possible to re- create His image in us. "The Lord Jesus came to earth that he might recreate the image of God in man. He says to the repenting sinner, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." - Signs of the Times, 8-21-1893.

The 3rd Creation: the New Heavens and New Earth. Isaiah 66:22,23 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD.

Notice in Isaiah that immediately after the creation of the new heaven and the New Earth that the Bible goes right into Sabbath keeping. The same as the creation. The same as when Jesus died. And the same will again happen the third time. True Sabbath keeping will have three very unique symbols to them. It seems that right after all three creations, the Sabbath, a day of holy rest, is mentioned and kept and its significance is broadened.

There are more similarities:

Notice that just like the first Adam at the first creation was tested at a tree, Jesus at the second creation was tested at a tree (The Cross).

Both trees were located in gardens. Where was Adam's tree? In the Garden of Eden. In Jesus' time when He died on a cross, where was the cross located? John 19:41 At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. And Jesus was laid in that tomb.

Both Adam's, Adam and Jesus, had their sides opened on the sixth day. The first Adam had his side opened that he might obtain his bride, Eve. Jesus, the second Adam had His side opened that He might obtain His Bride, His Church.

There is quite a bit of similarity here. Both Adams on the sixth day just prior to the day of rest were naked at the tree. The very next day both Adams rested on the holy Sabbath day.

There is a lot of depth to think about here. But at least you can see that the Blessed Sabbath commemorates some of God's greatest gifts to us: 1-Creation, 2- Salvation, and 3- Restoration, eternity with Jesus on the Earth made new at the third creation.

For Christians, the Modern Sabbath is therefore a triple sign of God's creation, redemption, and final restoration in the earth made new.

Today the Blessed Sabbath is a time for full fellowship with Jesus our Creator and Re-Creator. Contemporary Sabbath-keeping Christians rest FROM their regular work and they rest IN the finished work of Jesus on the cross. These two gifts are two of the greatest treasures that God ever gave to the human race.

Mark 2:27,28 Then Jesus said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." That's not Sunday, is it. Bless your hearts, that's Sabbath, that's Saturday, the seventh day of the week.

Isn't the Sabbath a wonderful gift to Christians? Luke 4:16 - Jesus also personally demonstrated that regular church attendance enhances the Sabbath blessing. It's a great day for you to remember His creation, His redemption, and His coming kingdom. True Sabbath Keeping is devoting twenty-four hours a week, totally to God, in love, within the context of His creation your family and God's church and coming away uplifted, refreshed and renewed!

Are you taking advantage the potential blessings that God has stockpiled within its sacred hours? I hope you are. I hope you're not just into erector set and Lego blocks. Use this holy time to deepen your relationship with Jesus our Creator, Savior, and coming King.

Hymn of Praise: #10, Come, Christians, Join to Sing
Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11
Hymn of Response: #383,  O Day of Rest and Gladness

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