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God’s Glory: Where Strivings Cease
Exodus 31:12–18 (CSB)
12 The Lord said to Moses, 13 “Tell the Israelites: You must observe my Sabbaths, for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, so that you will know that I am the Lord who consecrates you. 14 Observe the Sabbath, for it is holy to you. Whoever profanes it must be put to death. If anyone does work on it, that person must be cut off from his people. 15 Work may be done for six days, but on the seventh day there must be a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord. Anyone who does work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. 16 The Israelites must observe the Sabbath, celebrating it throughout their generations as a permanent covenant. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the Israelites, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”
18 When he finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God.
- “The Lord said…”
- This is the 7th time this phrase is used in Exodus 25-31.
- The first 6 times all had to do with God’s instructions for building the Tabernacle.
- The 7th time was the command to Sabbath and rest.
- Where else in the Bible does God speak 6 times about creating something and then, the 7th time, declares a time of rest?
- Genesis 1, and the creation narrative.
- The creation of the tabernacle echoes the creation of the universe.
- . Just as God created everything in 6 days and rested on the 7th, now God is presenting Israel as his new creation with the tabernacle and worship at the center of that creation.
- Think about what God created:
- Sure, He created heavens, earth, animals, plants, and people.
- But far from being distant, it says that God walked with Adam in the Garden.
- At the center of the Garden of Eden, was God’s relationship with man.
- At the center of Israel’s journey was God’s presence with man.
- Very simply, worship and delighting in God was to be at the center of Israel’s life and existence.
- Just as the Tabernacle was in the middle of Israel’s camps,
- So God was to be at the center of Israel’s life and activity.
- Sabbath reminded the people who and what was most important.
- This teaching on Sabbath is located in a strategic spot.
- God had just given all the details for making the Tabernacle and the clothing for the priests.
- A project like this would be life consuming.
- Yet, right after God gives the instructions to build, he gives this commandment: Don’t forget the Sabbath!
- We must fight the temptation of being so busy doing and working that we forget that God has called all of us to pause, reflect, and worship.
- Consider this: If all of the craftsman had worked all day on the Sabbath, creating perfect objects for the worship of God, yet disobeyed God’s call to rest and worship, their work would have robbed from God’s glory.
- I’ve heard many times the phrase, “I’d rather burnout than rust out for Jesus.”
- I understand the sentiment.
- Better to do too much instead of too little.
- But here is the reality: Either way, you are out.
2. Why Sabbath mattered to Israel.
- #1 Sabbath was a sign for Israel.
- God told Moses “this is a sign between me and Israel.”
- Every week, when Israel was to Sabbath, it was a sign that they belonged to God.
- Because they belong to God, God promised to protect and provide for them.
- Weekly, Israel was reminded of the special relationship that God had for them.
- The command to Sabbath was a blessing not a curse.
- Its funny, parents make little kids take naps who do not want them.
- But as adults, there are days when all we want is to take a nap!
- Making a kid take a nap is intended for the good of the child, not to their detriment.
- God gave the command to stop, cease, and rest not as a curse but as a blessing.
- Resting was a sign for Israel of God’s presence and His love for them.
- #2. Sabbath set them apart from the rest of the world.
- Wherever Israel went, the neighbors would notice that they did not work on the Sabbath.
- Their rhythms of life was drastically different than their neighbors.
- No one else practiced a Sabbath.
- Most cultures were expected to work every day.
- Yet here Israel was expected to cease their labor one day a week.
- By doing so, they brought glory to God.
- If you are always fighting and striving to make stuff work, you aren’t bringing God glory because you don’t give God room to move.
- Have you ever been part of a work project and they had you working as part of a “team”?
- But there was one or two people who did everything and you were sitting there wondering, “why am I here?”
- Too often, we say we want God’s help but then we still do all the work.
- #3. Neglecting the Sabbath had drastic consequences for Israel.
- Two things are mentioned: Cutoff from community and death.
- Both are bad.
- The message is that God was serious.
- Just as God worked 6 days and rested/ceased on the 7th, you are to do the same thing.
- Israel was to tell the message of God’s glory and power every week when they paused on the Sabbath.
2. Why Sabbath matters to us.
- #1 Resting in Jesus is a sign for believers.
- I think every believer should have intentional days where they pause, worship, and reflect.
- But more than that, a weekly day of rest and worship points us forward to an even greater day.
- Hebrews 4 talks about believers entering a Sabbath rest.
- This rest is more than a day a week.
- It’s a rest that influences every part of our life and world.
- To enter into God’s rest for us, means we:
- We receive salvation, because we stop trying to save ourself.
- We operate in God’s power and provision instead of doing it all alone.
- To enter God’s rest is to enjoy a level of relationship and access to God that we cannot have in the midst of the hustle and bustle of normal life.
- #2. Resting in God, sets us apart from the rest of the world.
- Just as the Sabbath made Israel distinct, resting in Jesus separates us from everyone else.
- What would it look like for our friends and neighbors to look at Christians and see them full of faith, trust, and calm in the midst of this crazy world?
- Someone who is at rest in Jesus will have a calmness under pressure that is not normal or natural.
- When we have entered into this rest, our identities are more secure.
- When we have entered into this rest, our focus remains upon Jesus.
- When we have entered into this rest, people will notice that something is very different.
- #3. Neglecting this rest has consequences.
- Spiritually, Hebrews says that if believers fail to rest and trust in Jesus, and instead try to earn their own salvation, that you will fall into the same disobedience as Israel and miss out on what God has for you.
- Physically, when we neglect rest, we wear our bodies and minds down opening ourselves up to sickness and disease.
- According to Cleveland Clinic
- Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Other potential problems include obesity, depression, impairment in immunity and lower sex drive.
- What we must remember is that God created the rhythm of 6 days to work and 1 day to rest and worship BEFORE the Law, Before Moses, and Before the Old Testament.
- What this means for us is that, although we no longer have to keep Sabbath like the Jews did,
- We neglect God’s created rhythm and order to our own detriment.
3. Sabbath creates a holy place and a holy time.
- “The Sabbath was “a tabernacle in time,” as Göran Larsson calls it. It was God’s way of making sure that his people would take the time to get to know him.”
- We all need a Holy Place and a Holy time.
- “the tabernacle is holy space. The Sabbath, by contrast, is holy time. By building the tabernacle and setting apart one day in seven, God is truly recreating heaven in space and time. Weekly Sabbath worship is on holy ground in holy time.
- This issue for you and I isn’t so much about what Sabbath or the Lord’s Day should look like.
- This main issue is are you setting aside time and space for God to be in the center of your life?
- A great place to start is 1 day a week, worshipping with brothers and sisters at a local church.
- But during the week, how are you making Jesus the center?
- How are you participating in God’s glory on a daily and weekly basis?
- Next, in what areas might you be resisting the rest and space God is calling you to?
- Just like a kid fighting a much needed nap or bedtime, are there areas where you are fighting that God is saying “be still”?
- Are there doors you are determined to kick down, when God is saying let me open that for you?
- Does your disposition reflect God’s working in your life, or are you just as stressed, just as worried, and just as fearful as everyone else around you?
- I want to pray for you all this morning:
- And I specifically want to pray for those of us who are saying, “Yes I want more of God’s presence and glory at the center of my life.”
- For anyone who feels overwhelmed, I want to pray for you also.
- Not just that you will be delivered from the situation, but that you will experience the presence and peace of God in your life and situation.
- If you would stand:
- I want to pray,
- Then anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or anyone who is desiring to put God at the center of their life, I want to ask you tom come to the front and pray for you to enter into God’s rest and peace and promise.
 Together the tabernacle and the Sabbath put God at the center of Israel’s time and space. The Sabbath looked back to creation, when God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Peter Enns develops this point by showing how Exodus uses the phrase “Then the Lord said” to echo the story of creation, when God said certain things and they were so (Gen. 1). By using this phrase, the Bible is presenting Israel as God’s new creation. The words “Then the Lord said” appear seven times in Exodus 25–31. The first six times all relate to building the tabernacle (Exod. 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34; 31:1). The seventh comes in Exodus 31:12, where God tells his people to rest. So Exodus repeats the creation pattern: There are six “days” to build the tabernacle, and then it is time to rest. p 961