Sabbath Rules

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:8-11 (day four)

The rules governing the Sabbath day were frequently a point of challenge between the Pharisees and Jesus.  The Pharisees had developed hundreds of laws of their own design that governed this holy day.  Were these extensive restrictions God’s plan for this commandment?

In Matthew 12:1-8 and Mark 2:23-28, Jesus told the Pharisees that he was Lord of the Sabbath; that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  Jesus was in direct conflict with the man-made religious systems (think cleansing of the temple) of His day.  The light of Truth penetrated the false teaching of the hypocrites that were creating an idol of worship over God’s authority.  Jesus referenced the prophet Hosea saying God values compassion rather than sacrifice.

Are there areas of your life where you have added to God’s Word and given divine authority to the devices of your own reasoning?  Repent and return to the simple commands of divine truth!

In Vain

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:7 (day four) 

At the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments, God was establishing the basis of a covenant relationship with Israel. A covenant, unlike a contract, cannot be broken or set aside just because circumstances have changed.  A covenant is a holy agreement.  Verse 7, our text, deals not only with cursing using God’s name or proclaiming God’s word without actually having it, but also making vows or promises with God and not keeping them.  We may flippantly make a promise to God or invoke His name into a promise to another, with no intention of keeping it.  We have no reverence or respect for His holy name and toss it around like a seal of approval for our own devices.

The only solution to deal with our vain statements is repentance.  To restore our relationship and receive forgiveness, we must repent!  To break a covenant will always result in consequences.  Take seriously your covenant relationship with God and avoid using His name in vain.

One God

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:4-6 (day four)

The first and second commandments are very similar…one almost an extension of the other.  Together, they define the starting point of all worldviews.  Either you believe in God or you do not.  Your worldview is then established off of these premises.  These commandments demand ultimate allegiance to God whose existence defines all reality.  Theologian James Orr said, over a century ago, “This explains the radical antagonism between the two worldviews, one believing in God and one not.  Two different starting points for all thought, two different realities—on the one hand silence, on the other hand speech; on the one hand, nihilism, on the other hand, theism, and those in the end are the only two great alternatives.”

These commands also demand exclusivity in worship.  In our politically correct society, exclusivity is not a popular thought.  Tolerance is the word of the day.  Jesus also claims to be exclusive.  Acts 4:12 says, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  God is not saying I am the best among many…He is saying no other gods, I am the only one!

Idolatry

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:3 (day four)

This is the first commandment given to Moses on Mt. Sinai…given to begin to establish a relationship between God and His people, Israel.  Even as Moses was carving #1 on the stones, the children of Israel were back in camp making a golden calf…an idol…to worship instead of God.  Needless to say, the commandments were certainly pertinent to the contemporary society of Israel.

What about today?  Is idolatry even an issue in today’s culture?  Absolutely!  Satan continues to use this powerful tool to turn us away from God.  Think time…possessions…passions!  Anything that consumes our thoughts and diverts our minds and hearts from God.  “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”  (Colossians 3:5)  God is the one, true God and we cannot divide our allegiance and trust between Him and anything else.  Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Immutable

Re:Verse passage – Exodus 20:1-17 (day four)

This week begins a 13-week study of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).  The Israelites had left Egypt as slaves and were being called out to meet the God of all creation.  Moses had led them out and brought them to the mountain of the Lord, Mt. Sinai.  Here, God met Moses and gave him the ten words.  These were the foundation of who God was…His character.  The commandments have shaped and formed cultures and societies ever since.

God spoke these words thousands of years ago…yet, they are still true and valid today.  One of God’s character qualities is immutability…He never changes.  What peace and security we have, knowing that God’s Word never changes. We can trust God in whatever He says.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  We have a God who never changes…we have a Savior who never changes…we have foundational law that never changes…we of all people are blessed!

Repentance – Post Sin Response

Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 24 (day four)

What was so bad about a census?  To our western mind, a census does not seem to be a bad idea.  In Exodus 30 though, God specifically required a ransom for each man counted in a census.  Since no reason is given in Scripture for the ransom, scholars have speculated as to the why.  Israel was considered God’s army, so when a leader counted the available soldiers, he was appearing to claim the army as his own.  In 1 Chronicles 21, we also learn that Satan had moved David to conduct the census.  That cause and effect is never good!

Regardless of the why, David had sinned against God.  It was David’s repentance after the fact that revealed David’s reputation as a man after God’s own heart.  We all sin…but it is how we deal with that sin after the fact that reveals our relationship with God.  God is ready to forgive when He sees a heart that is truly repentant!

Good vs. Evil

Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 20 (day four)

The dust has hardly settled from Absalom’s revolt and another upstart tries to do the same.  Sheba tries to take advantage of the rebellious spirit of the nation and leads a revolt against David’s throne.  Evil is never satisfied…there will always be a challenge to God’s authority…always be a new twist to an old challenge.

We see it in today’s news…no defeat of evil is enough to deter the insatiable desire for just a small victory over good.  In the second book of his Space Trilogy, Perelandra, C.S. Lewis wrote of the insidiousness of evil…anything to tarnish the pure.  Small victory or great, evil chips away at the good.  Satan will eventually meet the same end as Sheba…there will be no more evil.  Revelation 22:3-7 gives us this promise.  Until that day, we must be diligent to obey and serve God with all of our hearts.  Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Legacy

Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 18 (day four)

When King David fled Jerusalem to escape Absalom, he left out through the Kidron Valley. (15:23) He would have traveled past the Monument of Absalom.  Absalom had erected this structure as a remembrance of himself, since he had no sons to preserve his name.  The monument, or at least what scholars believe is the authentic edifice, still stands today.  Absalom desired to have history remember him.  Sadly, the legacy of Absalom is a picture of deceit, rebellion and greed.

Absalom’s father, King David, is remembered as the greatest king ever.  Absalom could have been a part of that legacy, but as a result of his rebellion, did not even get to be buried in his ‘King’s tomb.’  In Jeremiah 2, the prophet judges Israel for trading living waters for broken cisterns.  They had forsaken God.

We often settle for much less than God intends for our lives.  We may find that we have given up God’s best—living water…family legacy—and traded for broken cisterns or a rebel’s death.  Consider your paths that you are not missing what God has ordained for you!

Not As It Seems

Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 16 (day four)

Honestly, Shimei did not use very good judgment.  Here he was shouting curses at King David and throwing dirt and rocks at him and his followers.  Abishai said it well…”just let me go cut off his head, that’ll shut him up!”  Sounds like an effective solution to the problem.  David saw it otherwise.

David understood the sovereignty of God.  He understood that God could turn the hearts of people to accomplish whatever He desired.  [We’ll see later that God thwarted the counsel of Ahithophel in order to bring calamity on Absalom.]  If God had used Shimei to put a curse on David, who was he (David) to go against God?  Learning to see life through the filter of God’s eyes makes everything look different.  Can you imagine the stress and anger that could be eliminated, simply by yielding to God’s control?

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, declares the Lord, for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9.

Foxhole Religion

Re:Verse passage – 2 Samuel 15 (day four)

It never works to try to bargain with God.  It is called ‘foxhole religion’.  “Lord, if you will just get me out of this situation, I’ll serve you, forever.”  Have you ever done that?  Absalom claimed he had vowed to serve the Lord if He would bring him back to Jerusalem.  (V. 8) For Absalom, it was a ploy to get out of town without causing a stir.  For us, it may be a selfish condition we try to place on God, if He wants our obedience.

Do we really expect God to do our bidding, in order to earn our obedience?  We serve God out of love… because He is worthy…because He has already paid for our worship with the blood of His Son.  We talked about it last week…if God never did anything else, is it worth it to serve Him?  Is it worth our obedience if there is nothing else in it for us?  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)