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Let’s try again, to make some simple Old Testament observations around the Sabbath day.

The first actual mention of the word rendered “Sabbath” is in Exodus, when the children of Israel were in the wilderness and God was feeding them with manna.

Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. - Exodus 16:25

On the Sabbath – there was no new manna and the manna from the day before stayed fresh. God was careful to create a culture in which it was necessary to stop the normal day to day tasks and give the day to different things.

Yesterday, we talked about God sanctifying the Sabbath, and today we see that it was, in deed, set apart from other days, because you had to have a different routine. If you had not gathered two days worth of manna on the 6th day, you would be hungry on the Sabbath.

See, the LORD has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." - Exodus 16:29

A little further down the page we read that the Sabbath was given to them. The Sabbath was a gift. I suppose there have been those through the years who have looked askance at this particular gift, but it is none the less, a gift.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. - Exodus 20:8-11

There were plenty of things that God gave to the people before He gave the law, but not all of them got into the top 10 list. The keeping of the Sabbath is the fourth commandment.

God made it holy, and Israel was commanded to keep it holy.

In his retelling of the law in Deuteronomy 5 Moses adds this bit about Egypt

You shall 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 by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. - Deuteronomy 5:15

Here we get the sense that the Lord is saying, remember the days when you were slaves, and had to work seven days a week for your masters. Now you have been rescued from those evil masters, and as an remembrance and thanks for the one who brought you out of slavery, stop your work for one day every week.

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. - Exodus 31:12-13

Next we see that the Sabbath is not only intended to be kept holy or separate from all other days, but the observance of the Sabbath was intended to be a sign between God and Israel which set it apart from all other nations.

I live in Bergen County, New Jersey, in fact the next town over is the famous Paramus, New Jersey. It is famous for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the invention of the shopping mall. I believe the Garden State Plaza was the first shopping mall in the world. But more notable is the fact that though it may well have more major shopping malls than any other town in the country, it also has the most strict blue laws in the nation.

This from Wikipedia:

Bergen County in New Jersey is notable for their blue laws banning the sale of clothing, shoes, furniture, home supplies and appliances on Sundays kept through county-wide referendum. Paramus, New Jersey has its own blue laws even more strict than the county itself, banning any type of worldly employment on Sundays except necessity items such as food and gasoline. Wikipedia: Blue Laws

So then Paramus, New Jersey is set apart from all other shopping destinations on Sunday’s. By the way, it is wonderful to drive on the State Highways in Bergen County on Sundays. Hurray for blue laws!

For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD in all your dwellings. - Leviticus 23:3

On the Sabbath there was supposed to be a convocation or meeting, assembly, or the word can even mean reading – such as a public reading of the Word of God.

Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the LORD continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. - Leviticus 24:8

God’s intention is for this sanctified day to be remembered as long as time is kept.

There is a very serious story in Numbers about a man caught breaking the Sabbath:

Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day. ... So all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. ... "It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, - Numbers 15:32, 36, 39

As we get to the prophets, and as Israel slides further and further away from Father, we have some strong words to consider:

Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. - Isaiah 1:13

God is nauseated by the celebration of Sabbath when it was polluted, and not kept holy.

If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, - Isaiah 58:13

Rather than a holy convocation, it became a day to do their own pleasure, or to continue to work and pad there pockets. [Tweet This] They did not stop and honor the God who gave them the power to be free, the power to get wealth. They simply went about their business, and tipped their hats to God on the Sabbath day, and it made God sick.

Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. - Ezekiel 22:26

I do pray Lord, that I would be found doing your pleasure, everyday, Sabbath included.

Ben NelsonI must ask you to come back tomorrow. Remember, we live in a New Covenant, and I promise there is some good news coming, but for today, this is enough.

See you tomorrow


I love this time of year. In New Jersey. It is late Spring and it's as if all of creation is calling me outside. For weeks now we have been passing from one fragrant bloom to another. As I walk around town and past each unique garden, I am drawn first by the wisteria, then the lilacs, next

Mr. Robin Announces Springtime in NJ
Mr. Robin Announces Springtime in NJ

the peoniess and roses. Now the honey suckle takes its turn reminding me of days gone by when I would ride my bicycle past miles and miles of honeysuckle in the farm land of Virginia.

The twilight lingers till after 9 PM, and only now in early June do the mosquitoes begin to pester. Long evenings laughing and loving around the picnic table as the air cools from the 80’s through the 70's to the mid 60’s and some wonderful sleeping weather.

I just love the season change.

As we come to this bit of the Song of Songs we see life has its seasons too.

My beloved responded and said to me,

‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.
For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.
The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.
The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!’ ~ Song of Songs 2:10-13

Jesus is calling to His beloved (that’s you) to come out of your warm, safe cocoon of intimacy into the beautiful spring air of partnership.

This season change in the Song is an indication of growth and maturing the our Maiden’s walk or relationship with her Shepherd King.

We will spend a bit of time talking about some of these signs of Spring, but for today I want you to hear on simple message.

At every stage in the Maiden’s walk, her Suitor calls her beautiful.

This is the third time in the Song that Shepherd King calls the Maiden beautiful. The first time was when she was in crisis about her worldliness. (1:8) Next as she first began to move into intimacy with Him. (1:15) Now as He is drawing her into ministry, into partnership with Him. (2:10, 13)

How often do we get fed up with ourselves for our failure in our Christian walk. I am talking about those of you who are trying, working at it, giving it your best effort. Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning with the full intention of doing all the best Christian stuff (quite time, witnessing, prayer, __________ fill in the blank) and find that before your coffee is brewed, or the water is hot for your tea, you have blown it?

Yep – Jesus calls you beautiful.

The truth is, as we saw early in the Song, all that trying, and striving is not helping. He is calling us to ministry, but not to simply burn up with activity, but rather to come out of the chamber and walk, run, skip through the hills and mountains with Him.

He want to TAKE us out into ministry, not SEND us out into ministry.

He does not want you to DO a bunch of Christian stuff, He wants you to walk out into the beautiful spring air and let Him lead you to ministry opportunities He has set up for you. You will be amazed to find that He has prepared you for the very things He brings before you.

You know this is true too – don’t you? Aren’t there times when you spend some wonderful time in His Word, and that day, or soon after, you find yourself comforting, or exhorting, or testifying using that very Word? I know it happens to me all the time.

Next week we will talk about some of the signs of spring.

BenSee you then.

For now, come on out and smell the roses!


Hey – Don’t forget, if you have questions about the Bible, or the Christian life, click the button on the sidebar and we can toss them around together. Or if you would rather submit them anonymously, email me here:

See you next week.

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