CELEBRATE THE SABBATH TO GET THE BLESSINGS FROM THE TRIUNE GOD
Pastor Paulus Budiono
Lemah Putro, Sunday, January 13, 2019
We have just left the Christmas season behind and rung out the year 2018. Are there any cake leftovers? Any Christmas hampers left? Any “cake” of Christsmas and New Year’s Eve sermons spared to “munch on” today? Instead of being critics babbling about sermons, are we willing to be like Tychicus, proclaiming the gospel of salvation and bringing comfort to those who suffer for the sake of Christ’s name?
Let’s take a taste of “the New Year’s cake leftovers of God’s Word” that still have an awesome flavor found in Ephesians 6: 23-24: “Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.“
We finished off the “cake” of the Letter to the Ephesians (chapters 1-6) throughout the year 2018. Did we “finish it up” or just “take a bite” of it? Why is the Word of God associated with “a cake” this time? Because, according to the Tabernacle Teaching, this Epistle refers to the Table of Showbread on which two rows of loaves, 6 in a row, were placed (Leviticus 24: 5-7). The bread was not to be displayed but to be consumed.
Today we are savoring the cake leftovers of the entire Epistle, so to speak, namely, the last two verses of Ephesians 6. Without realizing it, the Church of God uses verses 23 and 24 (cf. 2 Corinthians 13: 13) to extend the Triune God’s blessing at the end of a worship.
If we take a closer look, almost every Letter in the Bible ends with a statement of blessing (Galatians 6:18; Ephesians 6:23-24; Philippians 4:23, etc.). Do we receive the whole blessing? Or, do we receive part of it because we want to rush out of the church before the pastor finishes his benediction?
Who will be more thankful? Those receiving the whole cake or the ones picking up a slice of it? Take the entire blessing of God’s Word (instead of cherry-picking verses) to fully obtain peace, love and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Who was the showbread for? Aaron and his sons (priests). They ate the bread on the sabbath (not on any other day) in a holy place, that is, the holiest site to him (Leviticus 24: 8-9). Isn’t Jesus the Word that became man (John 1: 14)? This means that every time we hear and read the Word of God, we obtain grace to celebrate the holiest blessing from the Most High in place of worldy blessings that do not last long.
If only we understand how precious the blessings of the Word are, including the benediction, we will attend the whole service without worrying what is waiting out there. In doing so, we will not miss the blessings of peace, everlasting love and strengthening faith. Following our salvation by His only Son, Jesus, through His sacrifice on the cross, we were chosen to be God’s priests (1 Peter 2: 9).
It is note worthy that Jesus is Lord of the sabbath (Matthew 12: 8), and at the same time, the Living Bread from heaven (John 6: 48-50).
In the time of Moses, God provided the Israelites with rain of manna from heaven morning after morning, except on the sabbath. Since manna melted in the sun, they had to collect it in the morning as much as they needed depending on the number of the people.
Primarily on the sixth day of the week, they had to collect it twice as much as they daily did for the provision of the seventh/the sabbath (Exodus 16: 4-5, 21-22). Simply put, manna did not fall on the sabbath. Therefore, the Israelites had to gather it twice as much on the sixth workday. It was not a one-day food supply, but rather a sabbath-day provision. Obviously, the sabbath is closely connected to food. In the same way, when we attend church on Sundays, we enjoy the blessed meal of God’s Word which has been prepared beforehand.
Why did God opt for sabbath? In the early stage of creation, God completed the creation of the heavens and the earth on the sixth day. On the seventh day, He stopped all His activities and took a rest. Then He blessed and sanctified the day (Genesis 1:31; 2:1-3). Apparently, God Himself blessed the sabbath; He Himself blesses our worship (on Sunday). And the pastor just extends His benediction to the congregation.
When did the priests eat the bread? They had to wait until the sabbath. They ate the bread when it had been replaced with the new one prepared on the sixth day. Even after a week, the showbread did not get stale but remained warm. Once it was eaten, the new warm bread was there on the table.
The Word of God we heard last week should stay warm in our memories to enjoy. The warmth of God’s Words should cling to our hearts. So, it will not quickly slip our minds right after we have left the church. Otherwise, we will miss the blessings of peace and grace every time. The Word and His love keep our hearts warm one day at a time. By contrast, the love of men grows cold over time (Matthew 24: 12).
During His earthly ministries, Jesus’disciples once got hungry and plucked the heads of grain.
Upon seeing this, the Pharisees rebuked Him because they did something forbidden on the sabbath
(Matthew 12: 1-2). Jesus replied that David and his followers entered the Temple and ate the forbidden shewbread – forbidden because the bread was holy and meant for the priests (1 Samuel 21: 4-6). In the same way, the priests broke the law of the sabbath in the Temple. Yet, they were not guilty (vv. 3-5). The priest Ahimelek gave both David and his followers 5 loaves of holy showbread (1 Samuel 21: 1-6).
In reality, hungry people go somewhere to get what they can eat without being told. We should stay alert in order not to eat the wrong “food.” A church is not a restaurant “serving the food” on the menu that we can pick at will. Should this be the case, we can walk in and out of one church after another, looking for “the meal” (the Word) that satisfies our tastes.
The showbread was intended for the priests (and us) to provide them (and us) with responsibility and courage to claim that the “bread” of God’s Word is the one and only pure food, not misleading teachings that may sound biblical. When listening to a sermon, we may not understand everything. Yet, do not give up. Do not seek any understanding out there which may lead to deception.
The Israelites ate manna for four decades without grasping its significance. Somehow, they survived under God’s care. Some may reject the Word and this happened to Jesus. Having proclaimed Himself as the Living Bread, many of His disciples turned their backs on Him (John 6: 48, 58-59, 66).
The sabbath mattered a lot to the Jewish, but they missed its significance. The sabbath was reserved to consume “spesial food” prepared the previous day. Jesus died on the fifth day of the week and was buried toward the sabbath. Jesus was prepared to be a food offering served on the sabbath. Following His resurrection from the dead (on the eighth day), He continued His journey.
By “eating” the Word of God, we, in fact, “eat” the sacrifice of Christ. Similarly, we take part in the Holy Communion to proclaim His death until His return (1 Corinthians 11: 26). Since His resurrection, the Living Bread of His Word has been distributed far and wide. Jesus died for us and rose from the dead as the Living Bread. He is the Living bread now and forever.
It is obvious that our mouths voice a holy speech, sanctifying those around us as the Word is holy.
What is going on currently, anyway? More and more people live a thoughtless life. Free sex and LGBT are on the increase triggering the practice of abortion on a large scale, not to mention the deadly HIV. We are responsible for sharing with them this Living Bread for the sake of their salvation in Jesus Christ.
David along with his followers was allowed to receive the holy bread on condition that they lived a holy married life (1 Samuel 21: 4). No sooner had the showbread been taken away than the new one was placed on the table (v. 6). It is evident that right after we have “eaten” the Word of God, the next warm, satisfying Word is always there.
Let’s attend church more seriously to get the entire blessings of the great Word, imparting peace and His eternal love. We celebrate the fully blessed sabbath service in order to enter the rest that we will otherwise miss due to our inobedience (Hebrews 4: 1, 8-11).
In reality, God provides the Sabbath in relation to food provison – the Word – to enjoy. That’s the way how God provided Adam and Eve (a married life) with all His creation at their disposal in Eden. Sadly, they messed up the Sabbat atmosphere. Consequently, they had to sweat blood without rest.
If the ever-fresh food of God’s Word has provided us with rest, let’s not keep “the nice taste” of it to ourselves. Rather, we should share the Living Bread with those who have never tasted it – the Bread of the Word that gives us eternal life and access to the true rest. Amen.