June 03, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit



Gospel Lesson; Mark 2:23-28        

Epistle Lesson; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

Sermon Text; Deuteronomy 5:12-15


The portion of God's Word that we focus on is taken from Deuteronomy, chapter five, looking at verses twelve through fifteen.  Here is God's Word.


Observe the Sabbath Day by setting it apart as holy, just as the LORD your God commanded you.  Six days you are to serve and perform all of your regular work, but the seventh day is a sabbath rest to the LORD your God.  You are not to do any regular work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock or the alien who resides inside your gates, in order that your male servant and your female servant may rest like you.  Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm.  Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the day of rest.


This is God's Word.


So, Jesus in our Gospel Lesson said,

“The Sabbath was made for man...” 

In our text we are focusing on for today it says,

“Observe the Sabbath Day...”  

So, what does this mean?  What does the word 'sabbath' mean?  The Hebrew word, 'sabbath' 'shabat' means 'to cease', or 'to stop', or 'to rest'.  In The Old Testament, God was commanding His people 'to stop', 'to cease', and 'to rest' from their physical labors, and 'to stop and find rest in Him'.

A great example of God laying this out brings us all of the way back to the book of Genesis, in creation.  In Genesis, chapter one, and Genesis, chapter two, God created the world in six, twenty-four hour days.  What did He do on the seventh day?  God rested.  The Bible says,

“God saw all He had made and behold,

it was very good.” 

God rested from His labors.  Even though He is God, even though He is almighty, and all powerful, and He doesn't need to rest, He did rest on the seventh day. 

So, as Moses is giving these instructions to the Children of Israel, he tells them where they were.  Near the end of our text, he puts it this way.  He says,

“Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt...”  

Just recall the time frame here.  From the time of Joseph, until the time of Moses, the Children of Israel were in Egypt, and they were slaves in Egypt.  They were forced into hard labor.  They were forced into hard toil.  Early on, in the book of Exodus, it says they needed to make bricks.  Later on, they needed to make bricks, without straw.  Their quota of bricks could not be reduced.  They needed to make the same number of bricks, and they needed to go out, and find their own straw.  Scripture says they did that each and every day.  There was not a day to rest.  For seven days a week they were to work, and they were to toil.  But, now that was going to change.  Now that was going to change, because God wanted Moses to remind the people now the LORD your God has brought you out from Egypt.  

Just a little reminder of where we are, on the Children of Israel's journey.  Our text for today is the second time God's people had heard God's Law.  That is actually what the word 'Deuteronomy'  means.  It means 'second law'.  The first time God had given The Law was to Moses on stone tablets on Mt. Sinai.  It was right after they came out of Egypt.  Forty years had now gone by, and the 'old guard' the old generation had died, because of their disobedience.  Now, the new generation was getting ready to enter into The Promised Land.  God wanted Moses to reiterate The Law to the people a second time, and to give them The Law including at what we are looking at today,

“Observe the Sabbath Day”. 

And, just as God rested on the seventh day from His six day's work of creation, so here God wanted His people to rest on the seventh day.  They could work the first six days of the week, but now the seventh day of the week, they were to cease.  They were to stop.  They were to rest, and they were to worship.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute.  Today is not Saturday.  What are we doing?  If God commanded His people to worship on the Sabbath, which was Saturday, what are we doing here this morning? (which is Sunday)” 

Some of you might say for this nine o'clock service, “It's too early”.  Some of you, for a nine o'clock service, may say, “This is too late”.  But, what are we doing here on Sunday, if God says we should worship on Saturday?  Well, that was done away with, with Jesus' death on the cross.  There is a passage in The New Testament that says,

Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”


So, I oftentimes look at Good Friday, when Jesus died on the cross, and at 3:00 in the afternoon, when He said,

“It is finished”.

The curtain ripped in two from top to bottom.  And, observing the Sabbath rest on Saturday was done away with.  We can gather together to worship any time we want to.  The New Testament Church chose Sunday.  Primarily the reason they chose Sunday were for these three reasons. 

-God finished His work of creation on the seventh day, but what day of the week did He begin?  He began on Sunday. 

-What day was it that Jesus rose from the grave, showing He had paid for our sin?  It was the first day of the week.  It was Sunday. 

-And, what day was it that the Holy Spirit came?  Just two weeks ago, we celebrated Pentecost.  What day of the week was it?  It was Sunday. 

So, because of those reasons, The New Testament Church said, “Let's gather together on the Lord's Day.  Let's gather together on Sunday, as a day to worship.”  Again, it is not the only day we can worship on, but here God, in this commandment, is telling us to set aside time on a regular, weekly basis to worship Him. 

As we gather together for worship, God wants us to hear a twofold message.  I am going to change two phrases from our Old Testament Lesson for this morning, to make it implacable to us today.  The way it is written is this:  “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt...”

But, one of the messages God wants us to hear is:  “Remember you were slaves, because of your sin, because of our sin.” 

A number of years ago, the Chicago Tribune had asked over a hundred executives “Give me excuses.  Give us excuses that employees give to you, why they don't show up for work on time, or why they don't finish the work you ask them to do.” 

The Chicago Tribune collated those answers, and here are the top nine answers the executives had given.

The first number one excuse is:  “It's not my fault.”

The second one, which was very close:  “It's somebody else's fault.”

The third:  “Something else came up.”

Another:  “I didn't have time.”

“We have never done it that way before.”

“No one told me to do it.”

Seventh:  “No one showed me how to do it.”
“I had too many interruptions.”

Number nine, “I will get to it later.”

Maybe you are sitting here this morning, and you are an executive, you are a boss, you are a teacher, you are a parent.  I saw the smiles on your faces, as you heard those excuses.  Those are excuses given to executives at work, but really those excuses are used oftentimes with teachers, with parents, and with those who are in authority over us.

Really, those excuses fall into what we are talking about today, with observing The Sabbath Day.  In our Catechism, when we come to The Third Commandment, one of the questions that is asked is:

“How do we despise God's Word and preaching?” 

The answer The Catechism gives is this:  “We despise God's Word, and preaching by not rightly using God's Word in Baptism, and The Lord's Supper, or by neglecting combined worship for such reasons as laziness, amusement, and unnecessary work.”

Well, just as excuses aren't acceptable to executives, excuses are not acceptable to God, either.  Now, you have heard me say this before.  It is worth mentioning again.  I am not talking exclusively, but I am talking primarily.  Primarily, where do we find God's Word?  Primarily, where do we find Baptism?  And, primarily, where do we find The Lord's Supper?  Now, not exclusively, but primarily, where do you find those things?  We find those things in church.  So, the very place we find those things, that is the place we want to be, so that the Holy Spirit can go to work, and can strengthen our faith in Jesus, as our Savior.  Really, our text for today is getting us to evaluate the question, “Where is our priority?” 

Now the second portion, the second teaching in God's Word that He wants us to hear is to remind us that Jesus has fulfilled even this law, even this command for us.  What was Jesus' priority?  Well, Jesus didn't give excuses to His Heavenly Father.  Jesus didn't say, “That is going to be too hard.”  Jesus didn't say, “I don't know if they are worth it.”  Jesus didn't say, “The cross is going to be too heavy.”

But rather, Jesus said, “I love them.”  Jesus said, “I love you.  This is something I want to do, so I can win salvation for them.”  (For you and for me.)  Here Jesus fulfilled this command, as it says in our text, “The Lord brought you out of Egypt.”  For us, “The Lord brought you out from your sin.” 

How did Jesus do that?  Jesus fulfilled this with His life.  You heard me share with the youth this morning that when Jesus was twelve years old, and His parents went back to Nazareth, Jesus was not with them.  So, they went back to Jerusalem to look for Him.  Where did they find Jesus?  They found Jesus in the temple.  Jesus said,

“Didn't you know I needed to be in my Father's House?” 

Near the beginning of Jesus' ministry, scripture tells us

“Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath,

as was His custom”. 

In Jesus' life, He was fulfilling this command for you, and for me.  But, not only did Jesus fulfill this with His life, but Jesus also fulfilled this with His death. 

-What day of the week was it that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins?  It was Friday, the day we call “Good”. 

-What day of the week was it that Jesus rose from the grave, having won salvation, and buying us back from sin, death, and the power of the devil?  It was Sunday.  It was the first day of the week.

-What day is in between those two days, between Friday and Sunday?  That day is Saturday.  So, even in His death, Jesus was fulfilling the Sabbath.  He was ceasing.  He was stopping.  He was resting from His work, as He was resting in the grave, knowing that the very next day, God the Father would accept the payment He made for our sin, and we would be bought back from sin, from death, and from the power of the devil.

Who did Jesus do that for?  Jesus did that for you, and for me.

As we get to the end of our text for today, which is the very last sentence in our text, it says,   

“Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to

keep the day of rest.”


We recognize, and we realize this is not just talking about physical rest, but it is also talking about spiritual rest.  Look at what Jesus has done for me.  Look at what Jesus has done for you.  He fulfilled all of The Law for us.  He suffered and died, as our substitute, so that with the forgiveness of sin, we have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.

I conclude for today by reading a few verses from the book of Hebrews that ties in the rest that Jesus, our Savior, has won for us, when it says,

“Therefore since the promise of entering God's rest still stands, let us be careful that none of us be found to have fallen short of it.  For somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in these words:  On the seventh day God rested from all of His work.  There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  For anyone who enters God's rest, also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.  Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.”

May God grant that to us, for Jesus, our Savior's sake.