I had two interesting takeaways from Jeremiah 17. The first was about mankind’s deceitful hearts which society repeatedly denies. The second is on the importance of the Sabbath. During the ministry of Jesus, we see the Pharisees add to God’s instruction to keep the Sabbath. Now this practice probably began as a way to help people navigate the Sabbath but became increasingly corrupted as went the Pharisees themselves. The takeaway from Jesus should not be to not keep the Sabbath, for Christians believe in an unchanging God. In the latter half of Jeremiah 17, we see just how much forgoing the Sabbath is an affront to God.
19Thus the Lord said to me, “Go and stand in the public gate, through which the kings of Judah come in and go out, as well as in all the gates of Jerusalem; 20and say to them, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord, kings of Judah, and all Judah and all inhabitants of Jerusalem who come in through these gates: 21Thus says the Lord, “Take heed for yourselves, and do not carry any load on the sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. 22You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers. 23Yet they did not listen or incline their ears, but stiffened their necks in order not to listen or take correction.
24“But it will come about, if you listen attentively to Me,” declares the Lord, “to bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it, 25then there will come in through the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. 26They will come in from the cities of Judah and from the environs of Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the lowland, from the hill country and from the Negev, bringing burnt offerings, sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing sacrifices of thanksgiving to the house of the Lord. 27But if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I will kindle a fire in its gates and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched.” ’ ”
The rejection of the Sabbath by the people of Israel was an extension of their rejection of God. For several chapters in Jeremiah, we hear how the people of Judea reject God, forsake his commandments to worship other gods. And so God has promised his wrath against them. This is a very specific grievance God has with his people in regards to the Sabbath.
Along with grossly misinterpreting the New Testament, it frustrates me when people speak as though Christians should not keep a Sabbath. I do not offer any specifics on how to keep a Sabbath, for what is work depends on the individual, however, teachers like Larry Osborne and especially Andy Stanley who teach against the Sabbath view the Sabbath as a fulfilled commandment in that no longer is applicable have overstepped their bounds.
The Sabbath is God’s gift for man, so in keeping a Sabbath we are accepting God’s gift to us. In rejecting this gift, it is tantamount to a rejection of God. We as Christians should not reject God’s gifts.
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