The Purposes Of The Sabbath – Part One

Reposted from Edge Induced Cohesion

Written by Nathan Albright

I apologize to you all in advance. I did not have the time to make a short message this week, so I will make a long one. Why is the Sabbath important to God, and why is important to those of us who are baptized believers of God? How well do we understand what the Sabbath of the Bible means and why it remains important to Christians today? What does the Sabbath point to in history, and what does it point to in the future? How does the Sabbath stand as a sign of resistance against the corrupt practices of this present world? Can we answer these basic questions about a basic and fundamental aspect of God’s covenant with believers?

It is my purpose to answer all of these questions, but it will take some time to do so. This message is the first part of a several-part message that will answer some of the basic questions we might have of the Sabbath, so that we can have a better vision of the importance of the Sabbath to God. Perhaps the most fundamental question is one I have not asked yet, though. What is the Sabbath to God? What sort of observances are part of the larger commandment to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy? Do you know what they are? [Asks audience.]

The Five Parts Of The Sabbath Commandment

According to the Bible, there are five parts of the Sabbath commandment. Four of them are explained in the same part of Leviticus. Few Christians understand the whole context of what God considers as part of His Sabbath, and without understanding what God says about the Sabbath we cannot properly remember the Sabbath and keep it holy as we ought to do. Therefore, let us look today at the five parts of the Sabbath Commandment, and then explain them in a little bit more detail. Once we understand what the Sabbath is, then we can understand what it means.

Let us introduce our subject by looking at Colossians 2:16-17. We will have much to say about this passage later on in our series, but I would like to introduce the subject of the Sabbath by looking at what Paul mentions as part of the Sabbath here. Colossians 2:16-17 reads: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a feast day or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body of Christ.” Many ungodly and wicked unbelievers twist this verse to speak out against the Sabbath, but what it says is fairly straightforward. No one is to condemn a believer for eating and drinking and enjoying the Sabbath, the new moon, or the annual holy days. Here we see three of the five parts of the Sabbath. The other two parts of the Sabbath are the Sabbath year and the Jubilee, both of which we will discuss shortly.

Why does this matter? Even in the first century of Christianity there were anti-Jewish elements that later become predominant in most of Christianity that thought that the seventh day Sabbath was too Jewish, and so they did not think it was proper for Christians to observe . All of the parts of the Sabbath point toward Creation and freedom, but not a kind of freedom that Gnostic “Christians” opposed to God’s law and God’s authority wanted. We will talk much about this freedom later on, but for today I would just like to focus briefly on what sort of practices God commands for the various parts of the Sabbath.

Part One: The Weekly Sabbath

The most obvious part of the Sabbath commandment is the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath commandment is listed at least three times in the Law. Today, let us look at what is said about the Sabbath in Leviticus 23:1-3. Leviticus 23:1-3 begins the first of two chapters in Leviticus about the Sabbath, and it reads: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” “

There are several parts of this commandment that are worthy of mention today. First, it is a common misconception among many people who falsely call themselves Christian that the Sabbath was a Sabbath of the Jews. To be fair, the Jews themselves throughout history have thought the Sabbath was a special gift to them and to them alone. They were wrong. The Sabbaths belong to the Eternal, and are a sign of the covenantal relationship between Him and the Israel of God, whether physical or spiritual. They are not only for Jews, and they are not only for the land of Israel, but they apply wherever God’s people happen to be in all their dwellings.

Let us also look at what is required in this commandment for the Sabbath day. First, there is rest for everyone, man and beast. No one is to go out in their fields and businesses and work as do the heathen on the Sabbath day. Nor is anyone to force one’s servants or even one’s animals to do work for you. The Sabbath is a day for rest. In addition, it is a holy convocation, where believers are commanded to assemble for worship so long as we are healthy and able to do so. This commandment still applies to Christians today. Let us turn to Hebrews 10:24-25. Hebrews 10:24-25 shows this commandment to assemble with believers for Christians: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

What this means is that the Sabbath is more than simply a day for private reflection with God, but it is a day for worship as part of a body of believers. In fact, it is a day for both. We have a personal relationship with God that we must keep up through fasting and Bible study and prayer, and we ought not to neglect that because of social obligations or a pressure to spend all of one’s time serving the brethren, because we are commanded to rest. But at the same time, we are commanded to assemble with our brethren as part of a unified body of Christ. So, the Sabbath commandment given in Leviticus 23, and reaffirmed in Hebrews, tells us to balance our need for personal rest after a busy week with the need to fellowship and commune with our brethren and fellow believers on the Sabbath day. We are commanded to do both.

Part Two: The New Moon

The second part of the Sabbath commandment is the New Moon. Less is known from the Bible about this part of the Sabbath than about any of the other parts, and its practice is the most rare even within the Church of God. Nonetheless, it would be wrong to neglect it or to ignore what the Bible does say about the New Moon. After all, Paul thought it worthy of mention in Colossians 2, and there were special sacrifices devoted to it in Numbers 28, and so God clearly thought the New Moon of much more importance than most Christians do today. Therefore, let us examine what the Bible says about it and comment a little bit about why God thinks it important.

1 Samuel 20:5-6 tells us a little about what happened on the New Moon. 1 Samuel 20:5-6 reads: “And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’ ” Here we see that the New Moon during biblical times was a time of feasting and fellowship, as well as family sacrifices. It is a shame that we have not adopted this biblical aspect of Sabbath practice as more feasting is always acceptable to me.

We also learn from the Bible that there was no business conducted on both the Sabbath or the New Moon according to the practice of biblical times, according to the first part of Amos 8:5. The first part of Amos 8:5 reads: “Saying: “When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat?” From this passage we learn that no buying or selling was allowed during the time of Amos in Israel during either the New Moon or the weekly Sabbath, which is to be expected if the New Moon is counted as part of the Sabbath commandment.

We also learn from Isaiah 66:23 that the New Moon will be kept in the future Kingdom of God. Isaiah 66:23 reads: “”And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,” says the Lord.” Here we see clearly that in God’s kingdom the New Moon will be a commanded assembly of God. The fact that both Colossians 2 and Isaiah 66 (along with Amos 8 and Numbers 28) place the New Moon within the context of the Sabbath commandment ought to cause us to reflect upon our own practices concerning commemorating the New Moon for ourselves, to see whether we meet the biblical standard of Sabbath observance.

Part Three: The Annual Holy Days

There is far more information given to the annual holy days than to the New Moon, and so their observance is far more common. In fact, several chapters of the Bible are devoted to the observance of these days. Today, let us only look at a small portion of these scriptures and focus our attention on the seven annual festivals in Leviticus chapter 23. Here we find seven festivals listed, though they are not all very familiar even to those who profess to keep them.

The first two festivals, after the Sabbath is listed, are Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, mentioned in Leviticus 23:4-8. Leviticus 23:4-8 reads: “These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.”

Here we see that while Passover is a festival of God, it is not a commanded assembly. This is because in the Passover of the Mosaic Covenant circumcision was required to participate in the Passover ceremony, while baptism is required to participate in the New Covenant Passover established on the night Jesus was arrested. This limitation to only those who are in a covenantal relationship with God means they are not for the general multitude to participate fully. In addition, we see here that there are two commanded assemblies, on the First and Last days of Unleavened Bread, as well as the fact that eating unleavened bread for seven days is commanded for believers.

Next, in Leviticus 23:9-14, we read about the Feast of the Firstfruits, which took place on the first day of the week during the Days of Unleavened Bread, one of only two times where there is a festival of God on the first day of the week (the other is the Feast of Weeks, which we will talk about next). The Feast of the Firstfruits is the first day of the fifty days of the Feast of Weeks. Leviticus 23:9-14 reads: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

Even though this festival is often forgotten or neglected by believers, and it should be noted that like the Passover it is not a commanded assembly, it is important to Christians for at least two reasons. First, John 20:17 implies that Jesus Christ Himself waited until the time of this ceremony in the Gospels before quickly ascending to God. John 20:17 reads: “Jesus said to her , “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “I am ascending to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God.” This means that the obscure Festival of the Firstfruits is a commanded festival to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and his brief ascension on the first day of the week, some hours after being resurrected late on the previous Sabbath day, to serve as the first of the firstfruits of the kingdom of God. In addition, we are prohibited, in any of our dwellings around the world, from eating grain or making bread from it until we have given the firstfruits to God. This is a serious matter, even if it is often forgotten.

After this comes the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, which is coming soon for us. The Feast of Weeks is the only commanded assembly of God, and the only festival other than the Festival of the Firstfruits, to take place on the first day of the week. The fifty days of the Feast of Weeks seem to share a pattern with the Jubilee years, in addition, in that the first day of the week that the Feast of Weeks is celebrated on is similar to the first year of the next seven year cycle after seven seven year cycles being a Jubilee year. We find out about Pentecost in Leviticus 23:15-22. Leviticus 23:15-22 reads: “And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath [the Festival of the Firstfruits], from that day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord. Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering. The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the lord for the priest. And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger; I am the Lord your God.”

This particular passage says a lot, but I would like to focus on three parts. For one, the Feast of Weeks is the only time there is a commanded assembly on the first day of the week. Normally, to attend church on the first day of the week is to pay homage to false gods and false worship practices, except on a day when God commands it. Like the Jubilee year follows the seventh Sabbath year, so the Feast of Weeks follows a normal weekly Sabbath. We are supposed to think about how the different parts of the Sabbath are all connected to each other. Second, we have to remember that we a large part of the symbolism of the Feast of Weeks. Leavened bread could not be offered on the altar, and so none of us as believers are fit to serve as a burnt offering, because we are blemished by sin. But, through the offering of Jesus Christ we have a new beginning, are cleansed of our sins, and are acceptable in the eyes of God. Finally, let us note briefly that the Feast of Weeks was also a festival that required generosity to the poor, by giving them a chance to glean or harvest the corners of fields for their food, since they owned no land. We will talk more about this in a future part of this message but we ought to recognize for now that having a right relationship with God means caring about the practical needs of one’s neighbors and relatives. Additionally, let us also remember that God gave both the Ten Commandments to ancient Israel and the Holy Spirit to the Church of God on the Feast of Weeks, making this a day of great gifts from God to mankind.

Next, we read about the Feast of Trumpets in Leviticus 23:23-25. Leviticus 23:23-25 reads: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ “ This festival is not spoken of very much in the Bible, but it is the only holy day to occur on a new moon. It is also symbolic of both the first coming and second coming of Jesus Christ. Based on our knowledge of the priestly tables in 1 Chronicles 24 and the account of Luke 1, John the Baptist was conceived in mid-summer, a few weeks or so after the Feast of Weeks. Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit six months later, at the beginning of winter, and was born nine months later, right around the Feast of Trumpets. Likewise, the trumpet symbolism of Revelation suggests that the Feast of Trumpets is also symbolic of the seventh trumpet, when Jesus Christ will return to reign on the earth and enforce biblical law, including the Sabbaths, on the inhabitants of the earth.

Next, Leviticus 23:26-32 tells us about the Day of Atonement, the next festival of God. Leviticus 23:26-32 reads: “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout all your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbath.”

Here we see that the Day of Atonement is a day for the reconciliation of mankind with God. This requires prayer and fasting, since we all have much to repent of. The Day of Atonement is the only commanded fast in the entire year, and it was on this day that the Jubilee year began. It was also the only day in a year where the high priest was permitted, after he had offered a sacrifice for his sins and those of his family, to enter into the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat and ark of the covenant were located. Even today the Jews consider it the holiest day of the year. God says here that if a believer fails to afflict their souls by fasting, that they will be cut off and removed from Israel. This is serious business.

Finally, to close this very lengthy section on the annual holy days, we come to the Feast of Tabernacles, which are mentioned in Leviticus 23:33-44. Leviticus 23:33-44 reads: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it. These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day—besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord. Also, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a Sabbath-rest and on the eighth day a Sabbath rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.”

Here we see at least three interesting aspects about the Feast of Tabernacles. For one, it was designed to be a feast to enjoy the fruits of the land that one had gathered in. More than any other festival of God, the Feast of Tabernacles is associated with feasting and eating and drinking and fun. Next, let us note that unlike the Days of Unleavened Bread, the second holy day is located on the eighth day. This eighth day is mysterious and has significant meaning. Many so-called Christians keep Sunday because they falsely believe we are already in this eighth day, symbolized by the new heavens and new earth. They are wrong, but the Eighth Day symbolizes something beyond the physical creation, even if the Bible does not speak about it in very much detail. Finally, let us also note that this passage is very insistent that brethren dwell in booths, temporary dwellings, as a reminder that our body is a tent, and that God made Israel dwell in the wilderness in tents before bringing them into the promised rest.

Part Four: The Sabbath Year

The fourth part of the Sabbath commandment is the Sabbath year. It may come as a surprise to some of you, but we keep this Sabbath year here at Legacy. Achan Abigail has kept a record of when planting has started in a given plot of farmland so that the Sabbath year of rest for land can be kept. But few Christians know of this part of the Sabbath commandment, or recognize that Sabbaths are not only weekly, but also yearly in nature. Unsurprisingly, God speaks of the Sabbath year in very similar terms as the Sabbath day.

We find the law of the Sabbath year in Leviticus 25:1-7. Leviticus 25 is the other Sabbath chapter, one that is less well known among believers than Leviticus 23. Leviticus 25:1-7 reads: “And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the Sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.”

Here we see that the Bible commands rest not only for people and animals but also for the land. One of the worst problems in food production is that constant farming of the land wears out of the soil and leaves it unproductive, forcing farmers either to attempt to use expensive fertilizers to put nutrients back into the land or find other land to farm or accept lower yields of produce from the land. God’s way provides a way for sustainable farming, but it requires obedience to His laws, including having the faith to let the land rest and trust in God to provide food to last through the year where there is no farming or reaping done. This law has never been obeyed to any great degree among God’s people, because such faith has been lacking among those who call themselves believers.

There is one other curious custom for the Sabbath year, the forgiveness of debts. Let us turn to Deuteronomy 15:1-6, which tells us about this other custom during the Sabbath year. Deuteronomy 15:1-6 reads: “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release. Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, except when there may be no poor among you; for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance-only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you.”

There is much that could be said about this passage, but we lack the time to go over it in detail at this time. Let us comment on a few things, though. For one, the forgiveness of the debts of the people every seven years is connected by God to economic blessings for an entire nation. A nation that seeks to oppress its poor by refusing to forgive debts can expect similar treatment from its own creditors. Debt is an oppressive burden, and part of the freedom of the Sabbath is a commanded freedom from debts. Those who are owed debts are commanded to let them go and to trust that God will repay them for their generosity. Unsurprisingly, this law has never been obeyed to any great degree throughout the oppressive history of mankind, but it remains valid for believers today as part of God’s Sabbath commandment.

Part Five: The Jubilee

Finally, the fifth and final part of the Sabbath commandment is the Jubilee, a Sabbath of Sabbath years that occurred on the first year of every 49 year cycle. There are two significant aspects to the Jubilee year which parallel the two important elements of the Sabbath year for both the land and freedom for individuals. Again, I must mention that despite the fact that the Jubilee year is an integral part of God’s Sabbath commandment that this law has never been obeyed by any organized group of believers that we have any record of.

The first important element of the Jubilee year is that land was returned to its original landowning families on the Day of Atonement of the 50th year. We find this out in Leviticus 25:8-17. Leviticus 25:8-17 reads as follows: “And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field. In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of crops he shall sell to you. According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops. Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.”

Here we see that the people of Israel did not really own the land. God was the owner of the land, and He wanted to prevent the establishment of a permanent class of wealthy who took advantage of the poverty of their neighbors to hoard wealth and land for themselves generation after generation and kick the small farmers off of their land. This law was designed to give a new start every 49 years to those who had been unable to keep their ancestral lands, to prevent families from losing their tie to the land completely. The land belonged to God and God wanted to preserve an egalitarian status where Israelites were all in a position of equality, without there being a few wealthy and many poor. Sadly, the world has largely ignored this lesson, and the wicked among us think themselves to be the owners of this world instead of merely renters from God.

There is also a lesson in the Jubilee for freedom for slaves. We read of this in our last scripture for today, Leviticus 25:39-43. Leviticus 25:39-43 reads: “And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought from the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God.”

Here we see that even the poorest among the Israelites could not be treated as the property of someone else. God is our owner, and if we are in a covenant relationship with Him, we can neither be the property of someone else nor consider other believers to be our property. We are to respect others, even those who are servants because of their poverty, as human beings created in the image of God, and to treat them kindly in the knowledge that but for the grace of God we could be in the same situation ourselves. The Jubilee year is a Sabbath of liberty for the land and for its people, to ensure that there is no permanent class of aristocrats who lord it over society, nor any permanent class of slaves and exploited poor. Every family has the chance for a new start, freed from the mistakes of the past to start again anew.

Conclusion

This has been a very long message so I will try to summarize it briefly for you. The Sabbath is very important to God. Far from just being a weekly Sabbath, the Sabbath commandment includes the new moons, the annual holy days, the Sabbath year, and the Jubilee year. These various parts of the Sabbath all have different purposes, which we will discuss in greater detail in the next couple of messages. God designed these various Sabbaths to provide an opportunity for brethren to fellowship together as part of His family and a community of believers, to give rest to themselves, their animals, and their land, to be free and to free others of the burdens of debt and past failures, and to rely on God to provide for us and not on our own efforts alone. All of these aspects of the Sabbath remain valid for us today as Christians. Far from being a burden itself, the Sabbath is a sign of freedom from oppression and exploitation. We therefore ought to remember the Sabbath, all parts of the Sabbath, and keep them holy, rather than exchanging the freedom and joy of God’s Sabbath for the pale imitations of the false worship practices of the heathen, like Sunday worship and pagan festivals, that seek to bring mankind into slavery to sin and evil.

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