Sabbath Presentation

Looking at an invitation to present a paper at the Northwest Evangelical Theological Society meetings last Saturday, I plumbed my pile of “Ponders” and pulled out the topic of Sabbath. It’s the first practice in the Practicing the Way, a ministry I strongly support. But there are different understandings of Sabbath and its role in the Christian’s life. Some argue a 24 hour seventh day Sabbath is “baked into creation” while others see the practices as another form of legalistic works righteousness. There are many views between these poles.

I titled my presentation “To Sabbath or Not to Sabbath: A Covenantal Question”, {footnoting Shakespeare of course). I spent time in the Old Testament looking at Sabbath. The first reason given is that YHWH ceased His work of creating (the verb in Genesis 2:2 has this primary meaning, not rest as is often translataed). Exodus 20:11 says YHWH rested (different verb that Gen. 2:2). Exodus 23:12 has the full command with all three verbs: “For six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as the stranger residing with you, may refresh themselves.” [NASB2020]. When the Ten Commandments are repeated in Deuteronomy 5, the reason for Sabbath cnanges to “remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to celebrate the Sabbath day (5:15). Exodus 31:13-17 clarifies the Sabbath as a sign for the relation between YHWH and His people, so it is part of the Mosaic Covenant with blessing for keeping it and death penatly for those who profane it.

In the presentation, I led everyone in wrestling with the account of Jesus’ disciples breaking the Sabbath by harvesting (sure seems this is what happened – they are harvesting), leading to Him to declare the Son of Man as Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:23-27) – the discussion in the room got quite animated!

We concluded with Galatians 4:10; Colossians 2:16-17 and Romans 14:1-9 where both food laws (Kosher) and Sabbath are taken out of the category of “must follow” and put in the category of personal valuation. That is quite a difference from the Mosaic Covenant status of death penalty offense!

My conclusion went to Galatians 3:17-26 which teaches the limited scope of the Mosaic Covenant: it is for the people of God, i.e., Israel, from Sinai to Pentecost. Believers in Jesus, the post-Pentecost People of God, are no longer under the authority of the Mosaic Covenant but are under Abrahamic Righteousness, the moral command Jesus summed up in “love the Lord; love your neighbor”.

Thus I think the work/rest pattern may be properly praticed in many different rhythms ranging from a 24 hour period once a week to a daily/weekly/monthly/annual personally defined pattern.

Two helpful books on the subject are Paul Jewett, The Lord’s Day and the volume edited by D.A. Carson From Sabbath to Lord’s Day

Video and audio recordings of the session are here. I’d love to get your responses via comments on this post.

Remembering and Anticipating

This was me a year ago with my eyelids taped, neck brace to keep my head up and using a walker to prop myself up when I walked. I was in the 55% who have major side effects from Opdivo/Yervoy immunotherpary combination. Extremely high liver distress numbers were the invisible and much more serious problem. Thankfully all that receded by mid March and I started Opdivo (only) which has been effective treatment with no side effects. I had an infusion on Wednesday and am scheduled for three more infusions at the beginning and end of March and the final one on April 26. Then Dr. Mashru thinks I will be done with treatment.

In the meantime I work at full strength teaching Western classes, serving on the elder and preaching teams at Grace, doing a good bit of teaching/preaching in other churches (Cove Church in Anahiem last week and Capitol Church in Boise this Sunday and Alderwood Church, Saturday Feb. 11) along with pastoring pastors and checking in with grand children.

Sherry and I celebrated birthdays at Salty’s on the Columbia, our favorite celebration spot by far. After enjoying the marvelous dinner and sharing their complimentary white chocolate mousse cake, the server asked if we had a few minutes – another patron wanted to treat us to Mocktails. I had never heard of such a thing, but we found them delightful.

It is a great joy to be alive, strong and able to serve many in the years ahead.