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Little Books #1

THE WORD OF GOD

Scripture: Modified King James Version

 

The purpose of the Sabbath

Exodus 19, 20 & 31; Hebrews 3 & 4

[See also "Christ in the Old Testament"] OR ["The Gospel in the Old Testament"]

 

A message to those freed from the slavery of sin

Chapter 19

1 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD [Jesus Christ] called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above [or different from] all people: for all the earth is Mine: 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. [See 1 Peter 2:5.]

These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel".

7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, "All that the LORD has spoken we will do". And Moses returned the words of the people to the LORD.

A positive demonstration

9 And the LORD said to Moses, "Lo, I come to you in a thick cloud [to protect their eyes], that the people may hear when I speak with you, and believe you for ever". And Moses told the words of the people to the LORD.

Three days of preparation

And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people, and sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes, 11 And be ready against the third day, for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And you shall set bounds to the people round about, saying [to them], ‘Take heed to yourselves, that you go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it. Whosoever touches the mount [presumptuously] shall be surely put to death. 13 There shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live’. [And then Jesus said], When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come up to the mount".

14 And Moses went down from the mount to the people, and sanctified [prepared] the people; and they washed their clothes. [Comment]. 15 And he said to the people, "Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives". 16 And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that were in the camp trembled.

A frightening time

17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether [or bottom] part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. [See Hebrews 12:18-21]. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, charge [or warn] the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze [without protection], and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves [or take on His protection], lest the LORD [i.e. His holiness which is round about Him] break forth upon them [also]".

23 And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for You charged us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it". 24 And the LORD said to him, "Away, get you down [and remind them again], and you shall come [back] up, you, and Aaron with you: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest He break forth upon them". [God's holiness is dangerous to sinners]. 25 So Moses went down to the people, and spoke to them.

 

The ten promises [see also "Ten Tools"]

Chapter 20

1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 " I am the LORD your God, which have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

3 You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 You shall not make to you any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 5 You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me; 6 And showing mercy to thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments.

7 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain.

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shall you labour, and do all your work: 10 But the seventh day [Saturday] is the Sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath [rest] day, and hallowed it.

12 Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God gives you.

13 You shall not kill.

14 You shall not commit adultery.

15 You shall not steal.

16 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour.

17 You shall not covet your neighbour's house, you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is your neighbour's".

 

The people wanted an intermediary [Comment]

18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said to Moses, "Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die". 20 And Moses said to the people, "Fear not: for God is come to prove [or train] you, and that His fear [or healthy respect] may be before your faces, that you [may learn to] sin not".

21 And [yet] the people stood afar off, and Moses [alone] drew near to the thick darkness where God was. 22 And the LORD said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, You have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. 23 You shall not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall you make to you gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth you shall make to Me, and shall sacrifice thereon your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen. [Comment]. In all places where I record My name I will come to you, and I will bless you. 25 And if you will make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone: for if you lift up your tool upon it, you have polluted it. 26 Neither shall you go up by steps [or in pride] to My altar, that your nakedness be not discovered thereon….."

The Sabbath a sign

Chapter 31

12 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13 "Speak you also to the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am the LORD that sanctifies [or protects and empowers] you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy to you: every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever does any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death". [Comment].

16 "Wherefore [for this reason] the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath [as a physical rest], to observe the Sabbath [as a spiritual rest] throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed [and in like manner, so should they]". [Comment].

A record of the words

18 And He gave to Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

 

The first ‘day’ of opportunity – which was about 1500BC

Hebrews 3:7-19

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost says, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation [or test] in the wilderness: when [most of] your fathers tempted [tested] Me, proved Me, and saw My works [or Sabbath protection] forty years [and yet would not accept it]. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I swore in My wrath, They shall [or will] not enter into My [Sabbath] rest!)"

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today;" lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. [Comment]. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, while it is said, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts [and reject not the Sabbath rest], as in the provocation". For some, when they had heard, did provoke [or reject]: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness [as a result of the wages of sin]? And to whom swore He that they should not enter into His [Sabbath] rest, but to them that believed not?

It was their choice - not His!

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

Which will you choose?

Hebrews 4:1-12

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His [Sabbath] rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For to us was the gospel [of Sabbath rest] preached, as well as to them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. [Comment]. For we which have believed do enter into [Sabbath] rest, as He said, "As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest", although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, "And God did rest the seventh day from all His works". And in this place again, "If they shall [or, if they would only] enter into My [Sabbath] rest". [Comment].

 

The Spirit’s next opportunity – about 500 years later - c. 1000BC

Seeing therefore it remains [till right now] that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief, again, He limits a certain ‘day’ [or time of opportunity], saying in David [in Psalm 95], "Today, after so long a time;" as it is said, "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts". For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest [when they entered Canaan], then He would not afterward have spoken of another ‘day’ [of opportunity].

The third great opportunity – about 1,000 years later - c. 40AD

There remains therefore a [Sabbath] rest [even today] to the people of God. For he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His [for one is a picture of the other]. [Comment].

Let us labour therefore to enter into that [Sabbath] rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. [Comment]. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. [but as a group they did not enter into that rest – we are still here! [Comment].

The next great opportunity – 2,000 years later still? – 1998 [See "Time is Overdue!"]

 

Here are the words of Hebrews chapters 3 & 4 in another translation:-

We ought to take note of these words in which the Holy Spirit says:

Today if ye will hear his voice,

Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation,

Like as in the day of temptation in the wilderness

Wherewith your fathers tempted me by proving me,

And saw my works forty years.

Wherefore I was displeased with this generation,

And said, they do always err in their heart;

But they did not know my ways;

As I sware in my wrath,

They shall not enter into my rest.

You should therefore be most careful, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and deserts the cause of the living God. Help each other to stand firm in the faith every day, while it is still called "today", and beware that none of you becomes deaf and blind to God through the delusive glamour of sin. For we continue to share in all that Christ has for us so long as we steadily maintain until the end the trust with which we began. These words are still being said for our ears to hear:

Today if ye shall hear his voice,

harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

For who was it who heard the Word of God and yet provoked his indignation? Was it not all who were rescued from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses? And who was it with whom God was displeased for forty long years? Was it not those who, after all their hearing of God’s Word, fell into sin, and left their bones in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they should never enter into his rest? Was it not these very men who refused to trust him?

Yes, it is all too plain that it was refusal to trust God that prevented these men from entering his rest.

Now since the same promise of rest is offered to us today, let us be continually on our guard that none of us even looks like failing to attain it. For we too have had a gospel preached to us, as those men had. Yet the message proclaimed to them did them no good, because they only heard and did not believe as well. It is only as a result of our faith and trust that we experience that rest. For he said:

As I sware in my wrath,

They shall not enter into my rest:

not because the rest was not prepared – it had been ready since the work of creation was completed, as he says elsewhere in the scriptures, speaking of the seventh day of creation,

And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.

And in the passage above he refers to "my rest" as something already in existence. No, it is clear that some were intended to experience this rest and, since the previous hearers of the message failed to attain to it because they would not believe God, he proclaims a further opportunity when he says through David, many years later, "today", just as he had said "today" before.

Today if ye shall hear his voice

Harden not your hearts.

For if Joshua had given them the rest, we should not find God saying, at a much later date, "today". There still exists, therefore, a full and complete rest for the people of God. And he who experiences his full rest is resting from his own work as fully as God did from his. [This is called "righteousness, or sanctification, by faith"]

Let us then be eager to know this rest for ourselves, and let us beware that no one misses it through falling into the same kind of unbelief as those we have mentioned. For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart [to him]. No creature has any cover from the sight of God; everything lies naked and exposed before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

The New Testament in Modern English, J B Phillips (1960).

 

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