Sabbath Meditation #20 – The Day of Life and Wholeness
“Then he saith unto them, ‘Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? To save life, or to kill?’ But they remained silent.” (Mark 3:4)
“Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people” (Ex. 31:14).
“But if you are careful to obey me, declares the Lord, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever” (Jer. 17:24-25).
An overview of the Sabbath in the Bible provides many fascinating revelations. One will also discover powerful themes, and among them is that the Sabbath is a God-given reminder of life.
In Exodus chapter 31, God said that those who broke the Sabbath (in the Old Covenant) were to be put to death. We do not stone people today, but the severity of this punishment shows us that He takes the subject very seriously.
Unfortunately, people tend to dwell on this punishment instead of the opportunity presented to us. If the severity for breaking this commandment was so strong then the obedience to it must have an opposite, positive affect on life. For an example of this, we will briefly review Jeremiah 17:19-27.
In this chapter, we learn that the house of Judah was openly breaking the Sabbath. God offered them two options. If they continued to transgress the Sabbath, then the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. If they chose to obey Him, then the city would be spared and there would be prosperity many years into the future. This was an offer of life and blessing.
To put some context to this situation, one must understand that the nation of Judah was in outright rebellion to God. Earlier in the same book, we learn that they were worshiping other gods, bowing down to idols and committing other sins. Of all the commandments that they were transgressing, he chose the Sabbath as the gateway commandment to life.
One aspect of Christ’s first coming was to fulfill the law or show us its full intent (compare Isaiah 42:21 and Matthew 5:17-18). He described the Sabbath as a day of life and good works (Mark 3:4). In the same setting, the Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus (Mark 3:5-6). On the day of life, they wanted death. This shows that their minds were far removed from God’s mind. Despite this opposition, our Savior remained committed to life.
Jesus demonstrated this concept by purposefully praying for people to be healed on the Sabbath (in front of others). In Luke 6:10 Christ restored a man’s hand so that it was made whole. The Greek word translated as whole is hugies. It means soundness in body, restoration of health, or wholeness of health. If someone could be torn apart for breaking the Sabbath, then imagine the wholeness available to our bodies for its obedience.
As we meditate on these details, we can understand that our behavior, thoughts, and intentions on Sabbath reflect either life or death. The seventh day is an opportunity to seek life and to do good. Wholeness is available to us. It is not a day to destroy each other, tear each other down, or cause division. Our church gatherings should reflect life rather than the attitude of the Pharisees.
The Sabbath is set apart specifically and purposefully for life. It is also the day in which Christ rose from the dead into glorified life.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President www.biblesabbath.org