Rest For the Weary Part 2: Sabbath & The Culture of Now
Amen. How is everybody doing? Good to see everybody. I am Pastor Chip and I am so glad you are here and, again, thanks for all of our new visitors. We are really glad to have you. There is anything we can do, please let me know. And, at the end of service, I always go out and greet everybody, so please make sure that you come and say, hi to me and get the gift that we are going to give to you all.
All that being said, I know the slide said today was the start of our new series. That was a lie. Actually, we started it last week but that's okay. We are actually in a second week of a series and if you are new, you can go online and you can see the fact that you can go back and watch last week's message and, hopefully, you will enjoy it. But we are talking about "Rest for the Weary" is the series that we are in. And I want to just get right into it because I am so excited about this series. There is a lot of chatter online. A lot of people on Facebook seem to really enjoy what I had to say last week. I think, this week is going to even flesh that out even more and I think, as we go through the series, it's really going to be life transformational for many of us. At least, that is my hope and prayer.
I had an interesting experience on Monday. Normally, Monday, I go to work but I got to come up to the church on Monday and the beautiful thing about coming to church on Monday is our staff is given off Monday and so nobody was here. So it was like me and nobody else. So it was sort of fun. I got to run to the hallways and yell fire and see if anybody would run out and stuff like that. I am just kidding. I didn't do that.
But I was working on some stuff for some classes that I teach and some syllabuses and some notes for college and seminary and it gave me a chance to come into the sanctuary and actually spend a little time and pray. I know some of you are thinking, "Isn't that what pastors do?" If only. But I came in here and spend a little time praying and the thing that kept, just sort of bouncing off in my head over and over again was this phrase. It was the phrase, "To dance like Miriam, we have to come out of Egypt." And you may say, "I don't know what that means. I have never heard that before."
Well let me explain what that means, so can understand why maybe I was thinking that in my head. In Exodus, Chapter 15, it says, when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and the horsemen went into the sea, this is when, in the book of Exodus, the children of Israel and Egypt and they come out of Egypt and they are up against this Red Sea and Pharaoh's army's behind them and they are coming to kill them. And so they have this Red Sea that they can't get through. God parts the Red Sea and they start going through the Red Sea on dry ground and Pharaoh and his army starts to come in after them.
So it says, when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea-- We are still not working. I don't know. Could we just pause for a minute? You want to bring me back two AA batteries down here and let's just try that.
Y'all, church doesn't always go perfect, okay. And for those of you all who are watching via the internet, this is just called real life. This is the way it works. It doesn't always work perfectly. Let's see here. Hold on to. Here we go. Okay. Let's see if this works. Everybody pray for me. In the New Testament, Jesus would send the demons into swine. I think they go into the electronics today. So, let's see here, if this works. Not really good. So it wasn't batteries. We are still struggling. It's right.
The horses of Pharaohs, his chariots and the horsemen into the sea, I am going to have to do this without the slides today. So is that okay? We are just going to do it without the slides. So, can I just be cool? Can I just do that? Is that okay? It's just the way it is. It's all good. So the beautiful part of all of this is I am going to have to remember everything here on the spot. But we'll do the best that we can and Daniel, what you could do for me, if you want, you could forward them for me and then what I can do is maybe go through it. Is that sound like a thing?
So, when the horses of Pharaoh and chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, that would be the cue of next. The Lord brought back water of sea upon them but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. So, here is what you got going on. You got Israel's going through. You can imagine. Can you imagine being there? This is at night. And so they have gone down into the waters at night, following Moses and they are going down to the Red Sea. There is water on both sides.
So this is a dangerous situation and the Egyptians are following them and you don't know if they are going to get you or not. And so they come up out of the sea and it goes on here to say, the next slide, then Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.
Let me just pause for a minute here, too. For some of you women, because you know that I am very pro-woman as a pastor, notice that women are usually the ones that know what's going on in the Bible. We sort of don't notice it but it's the women here that noticed that have gone through. It's the women that throw the Holy Ghost Hoedown party. You know, they know what's going on.
So Miriam, the prophetess, and she is also a prophetess which is really hard to explain. How do you be a prophetess and not speak. We like to muzzle women. It's just crazy stuff that we do. So Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took this tambourine in her hand and all the women went after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them, "Sing to the lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider, he is thrown into the sea."
So what we have got here is Miriam is on this side of the Red Sea. They have come from this side of the Red Sea to the other side of the Red Sea and they are having a moment of singing and dancing because Miriam realizes that God has delivered them from Egypt. And all of the horses and all of the chariots and Pharaoh himself have been drowned.
And what I would tell you is that, for the majority of us, we live our life moving from one side of the Red Sea to the other, on a regular basis. Oftentimes, we are on this side and we are sitting there going, "Oh, my gosh. It's terrible. It's no good." We are restless, we are anxious. Pharaoh's after us, chariots are after us and then every once in a while, we have that moment of victory. We are on the other side of the Red Sea and we've got the tambourine and we are singing and we are dancing and we are excited. But the fact of the matter is, to dance and to sing like Miriam, you got to get out of Egypt. In the Old Testament is a story, the whole Old Testament is the story of coming out of Egypt, learning to rest in God, which is why we are talking about "Rest for the Weary." This idea of Sabbath is the idea that God wants to give you and me life.
Here is the problem, though. We easily forget and fall back into restlessness and anxiety. We go from this side of the Red Sea back to this side and we are restless and anxious. And we learn that because they go through the Red Sea, they go through all these stuff. They come to Sinai and Moses goes up on the mountain for 40 days and what happens while he is gone for a little bit of time? You know what happens? They make an idol. And not only make an idol, when Aaron brings out this golden calf, he says, "This is Yahweh." In Hebrew, he calls him Yahweh. "This is Yahweh that took you out of Egypt."
Let me say this to you because it's important that you get this. Most of our idols, most of our Gods are formed when we are restless and when we are anxious. That's where addictions come from. That's where issues come from. That's where problems come from. We are looking for a solution and what we do is we start creating these other things in the place of God.
That's why, on the Ten Commandments, God says, "Listen, no other Gods can come before me, at all. And you can't bring me into your culture by making graven images. You can't bring me down to you. And if you are going to follow me, if you are going to take my name, don't take it in vain. Don't call yourself, a follower a Yahweh." That third command is not a cuss word, by the way. It is taking the name of the lord in vain is taking his name like Mindy took my name, Bennett. It's taking God's name and then not living up to what it means. And so, you got the first three deal with God. Then we got this bridge, which is to rest and to Sabbath and then the last six deal with how we treat humanity.
And so what we have got here is, it's easy to fall back, it's easy to get back into restlessness and anxiousness. And so what happens is, is the Old Testament becomes stages of remembrance. And so, every time God starts talking about the Sabbath, he adds something to it, because he is teaching us that the Sabbath is far more, and we are going to see this as we go through this today, is far more than a day. It's far more than just taking a moment to rest. Sabbath becomes, as we go through the Old Testament, it continues to progressively move and move and move to where it takes on more and more meaning as we work through the Old Testament and even into the New Testament.
So here in Exodus, after Moses has come down and thrown the Ten Commandments down and he has gone off and he has interceded for Israel and just so to understand, some motifs here. Somebody else interceded for people in John 17, did he not? And then he went to a tomb and on the third day, he was resurrected, right. So does it make sense to you that Moses would intercede for the children of Israel? And then Moses would be hid in the cleft of a rock and, when he came out, he was radiating with glory? See the resurrection motifs. They are all there.
They come after the Red Sea, three days after they come to the Red Sea. They come to the waters of Mora. Remember the Waters of Mora, they are bitter. Okay and what does God do? He says, "Moses, look at the tree." Look at a tree. Actually, the Hebrew word to point, it says he pointed to a tree. It's the word we get our word Torah from. Okay, Torah is to lead or to guide. So Moses is torahed to a tree. The Torah points him to a tree. Does the Torah point us to a tree? He throws the tree in the waters and the waters that were bitter become sweet. Is there any tree in your life that has taken the water's bitterness and made them sweet? Of course and when did it happen? On the third day.
So the Old Testament, as we continue to work through this, all kinds of Jesus stuff, all kinds of cool stuff, but the Sabbath idea is pervasive. So here is what happens. This is the second re-upping of the Sabbath and God adds another clause. Look here. Six days, you shall work but on the seventh day, you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest, you shall rest. Now, we get this little addition, in plowing time and in harvest.
Now, I am not a farmer. Maybe some of you all have been on a farm. I grew up in Kentucky. I got to see some farming but I can tell you one thing. When you are farming, the last time you rest is when you are plowing and when you are harvesting. You don't plow a little bit and then go take a break, go swim, plow a little bit more, then go hang out, go out to a movie. Plow, a little bit. You got to stay on that plowing. And when you harvest, you got to make sure that you are on that harvest and make sure that you are working and doing stuff because there is a fine line between when you can harvest and when the crop goes bad. So you've got to be paying attention to what's going on.
So the Promise Land, God realizes, the reason he puts that in there, this idea of don't stop resting when you plow and don't stop resting when you harvest is because he knows the Promise Land that they are going into is going to be a very fertile land. And what's the temptation when life is going great, when everything is going fantastic? Nobody ever comes to the church and goes, "You won't believe this, man. Life is fantastic, life is awesome. Life is incredible." And they want to meet with the pastor for an hour to tell you that. They never do that.
You know when they want to meet with the pastor, when everybody wants to meet with the pastor? It's when life is going tough. Anybody had those white knuckle moments on your steering wheel, where you are praying to God because life is so tough and you don't know what's going on go on? Anybody ever had one of those? How about the moments in the shower where you are crying, when you are crying out to God, "God, I need help" and nobody can really tell you are crying because the shower is sort of hitting you? And that's about time your kid comes around the shower and goes, "What's up, daddy?" "Don't worry, I am having a moment with Jesus." All those things.
But what happens is, when we are successful, we start to think that we are the ones who do it. God says, "Listen, I want you to stop for a minute and rest. I want you to have a moment of Sabbath in your plowing time and in your harvesting time because what's going to happen is you are going to get into the Promised Land and you are going to think that you can do it on your own, because prosperity breeds amnesia." It does. It's what it does. So easy to not think of God when you are doing well. People get real spiritual when things are going bad.
Ever notice that? I mean, even an atheist, I don't believe in God at all man. At all. Somebody hits somebody in their family with a car and the first thing they are doing is, "Oh, God." It's like, "Where'd that come from? I thought you didn't believe in God." We all sort of do, don't we? We all sort of have this inkling that there is something more. We go to funerals and, we go, "I wonder what happens when you die." "Well, duh! They put you in a coffin and lower you in the ground. That's what happens." That doesn't do it for us. We're still asking the question, I want to know what happens when we die.
For such empirically verified people or people who need empirical verification, that isn't good enough for us. There is something that says inside of us, there is something more. But happens is, when things are going well and life is going fantastic, there is this really nasty thing that we do. We take God and we use him. And what happens is, life is great, crops are going, everything is going successful and so God now becomes the God that we start going, "Hey God, could you send us rain when we need rain? Could you bless my crops? Could you make sure that my life goes well?" And now all of the sudden, God is no longer a God. He is someone that we use, in our prosperity, to get what we want.
And God says, "That's why you have to Sabbath. That's why you have to pause for a moment and realize that no other Gods can come before me and you can't bring me into your culture and you have to follow my ways to truly not take my name in vain." There has to be a moment of pause and, on top of that, as we go through here, the more Israel has, the better and safer it feels. The more it starts walking around going, sky is the limit. Because, you see, when everything is going fantastic, everybody is like this is going to go on forever. Remember the housing marketing that we had here in Sarasota? Anybody ever lose anything like I did? Amen. If you didn't, praise God but we bought at the top of the market and then the house went in half. You know, it was like, "Whoa. Well, all right. There it goes, it's gone." And what did they all told me? They are like, "Don't worry. It's going to go on forever." Shame on you, realtors.
It's not going on forever. It's not going on forever. What happens is, when things are going well, we think they are going to continue well. We feel safe. We feel like things are going to go more and more and more and, as we do more and more and more things are going better, we start to use God in the way that we want him and we use our neighbor as competition. It's what neighbors become. They either become a help to what we are doing, so we use them, or they become an obstacle to what we are doing and we want to get rid of them.
And the Bible doesn't tell us to compete with each other. It tells us to complete each other. That's why there is a body. But what happens is when you are successful and you are doing well and life is good, you tend to use God for your purposes and you tend to not treat people with dignity and value. You say you do, you convince yourself that you do, but you don't. And so this plowing and harvesting stuff is huge because what God is saying is, I need you to stop and realize, it's not your production that gets you what you have. It's not what you are doing that gets you what you have. I am the one who ultimately gives you what you have got and to take a moment in Sabbath and remember me and remember relationships with neighbors is what I need you to pause and doing.
Have you ever noticed this in your life? That when you have animosity with other people, your wife, children, family, jobs, you are not living life. You are struggling. You are going through, it's constantly wearing at you. It's constantly getting at you. And Jesus is saying to us, God is saying to us, "I want you to have life. I want you to live a life but you are never going to be able, I am never going to be able to live a life that's full and meaningful and abundant if I can't get God in the place he needs to be". And when I get God in the place that he needs to be, then and only then am I able to treat people in the way they are supposed to be treated, and only then am I going to have full life. But to do that, I have got to learn to rest.
That's why, in the Old Testament, you see this. When you and I are defined by our production and consumption, we destroy neighborliness at the cost of maintaining culture. Think about it for a minute. And listen, I am not trying to step on anybody's toes. I am not trying to offend anybody. I am not trying to offend anybody who is watching via the internet. This is not my point. But we had a big uproar here in the last month or so about a lion that got shot. Everybody knows about Cecil and all that good stuff.
Let me ask you a question. Everybody is outraged, everybody is mad, everybody is upset at this. But here is the deal. There is about like, I think it's between two and three thousand babies that are aborted every, single day. And yet, we are upset about a lion. Because see what happens is, we get so inundated with our culture. Our culture blinds us to things that we don't see because, what happens is, when you are doing your thing and life is all about now and life is all about production and life is all about getting what you want, God, if you have a relationship with God, become someone you try to use to get on your train to do what you are doing.
And then you use people to do what you need to do. And then the people that you are using, your neighbors, you tend to look down upon them. You tend to push them away. You tend to think they are not as good or you are better and Sabbath is this great reset button that says, "That's not the way I want you to live. You can't live a full life looking down at other people and treating people with contempt in your busyness, in your production, in your consumption." You destroy neighborliness and when you have no neighborliness, you have no life.
God himself, in his essence, is community, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He exists in relationship and we can't have full life outside of relationships. That's why, in the Old Testament, the land is always referred to, when God talks to Israel, as an inheritance. It's never their possession, ever. It's an inheritance. And inheritance is to be shared amongst the family, amongst all. When you have a possession, you tend to keep it to yourself.
So the Old Testament is telling us, here as we do the stages of remembrance. God brings about Sabbath and he adds something. He is going to do it again now. And Deuteronomy, which comes from the two Greek words deuteros and nomos, which is the second law, the giving of the law, here is what he says. Sounds familiar, sounds like no big deal. Observe the Sabbath day, keep it holy, as the Lord, your God, commanded you. Six days, you will labor and do your work but on the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not work, you or your son or your daughter.
Notice here that your sons and daughters are given equality. They're the same thing. We're starting now to move into an area where Sabbath is getting some addition, too, and here we go, listen. "Or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or your livestock or the sojourner within your gates." Check this out for a minute. Listen to what he says here. He says, "Your male servants, your female servants." He says, "You are going to rest with them." Now, you and I can't even begin to imagine how low on the totem pole a servant was in the ancient Near East. You can't even imagine.
God says, now here is what we are going to do. We are going to Sabbath and we've talked about the plowing and harvesting. Now what we are going to do is add a little bit more to it and we are going to rest. Your female servant, your male servant is going to rest as well as you do. And notice there too, what he also said. He said the sojourner, you hear that is. That's an alien. That somebody that's coming through your land, that doesn't live in your land, that's on their way through your land. He says everybody in town is going to take a moment and rest because Sabbath is vindication of everybody's worth and dignity. Nobody is better.
And see, the problem is, is in a now society, we applaud productiveness, quotas, effectiveness, performance and what it does is it leads to haves and have nots. That's what it does. It always leads there. It always leads to people who have and people who have not, because when it's all about production, somebody is going to produce more and it doesn't mean they are better. Because if you were back in Egypt, let's say, you had Joe and Sam. Joe had to build bricks for Pharaoh and so did Sam. But when Sam went to get his straw, the area where he went to get his straw, there was more straw. He had access to something that Joe didn't. Joe didn't have as much straw. So every day, Sam looks like the hero but Joe is actually the one that's working harder, but in a production society and an effective society, Sam is the one who gets the kudos.
And so Sabbath becomes this moment where everybody, slaves, aliens, people, sons, daughters everybody, everybody pauses for a moment and Sabbath says, "Stop. You don't have to sell more to be of value. You don't have to outdo others to be value. You don't have to control more to be of value. You don't have to know more to be of value. For you women, you have to be prettier or have better make up or better clothes or your children going to the right school. None of that is what's going on, none. None of this." Sabbath says "Stop."
Here is what he says, as he's just given you two verses. Here is the third tie in verse out of Deuteronomy 5. He says, "Because you will remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. When you pause for Sabbath, you will remember those days when you felt of no dignity and no worth. You will remember when you tried but you didn't perform. You will remember when somebody else had access to what you didn't have access to and you felt like a failure. You'll remember when you didn't meet that quota. You'll remember when you didn't meet that stuff. You'll remember what it feels like to be a commodity. You'll remember."
And the word remember is the word that is used all through the book of Deuteronomy. Remember, the word. Underline it when you read Deuteronomy. Everything is about remembering. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. Do you remember those days? Do you remember what it felt like, what it tasted like, what it looked like? Because if you can do that and you can remember, you can now pause for a moment and realize that God is the one that brought you out of Egypt and he delivered you, with his mighty hand and out stretched arm and when you focus on that and realize that you didn't deserve it, you didn't earn it, you didn't do anything. He did it for you. If you will remember that, then you can also return the favor to people in your life and what this is all about. This is all about you and me, living lives that are full of life and you see the church.
We see the statistics. You've seen people that try to redo the statistics and act like the statistics aren't as bad as they are. All you've got to do is do survey. Go into a church and ask people about their life and you will see that the church basically mirrors the imagery of the world in just about everything that we do. It's unfortunate, it's the way it is and we just wonder why. We sit around. Christians sit around all the time. I want to have life, I want to have joy. I want to have all these things the Bible says that I can have but I never feel like I am getting it. I never feel like I am doing it. And I am saying to you, as a pastor here, it's because we don't know how to Sabbath. We don't know how to stop for a moment.
In our production, in our busyness and in go, go, go, we can't stop and say, God is my God and I am not letting any other God come before him and I am not letting any of my culture influence the way I see God. I'm going to see him for who he is and I am not going to take his name in vain and then I am going to turn and I am going to see society, my neighbors, I am not going to do these things and not do these things and not do these things, because I am going to treat them with the same respect that he has treated me. And you start living that life and you start employing that life in your life and you will see something. Things change, because the things that normally drag us down are frayed relationships with others. It drags us all down. Hear it all the time. People are like this wrong, this wrong.
Last night, I had a lady look at me with tears in her eyes and she said, "I am calling my sister that I have not talked to in years and I am asking her forgiveness, based on what I heard last night." See, that's when life starts happening. When we stop for a minute, just pause and say, "God, you are God and people matter and Sabbath is the big reset button here in Deuteronomy 5 that says everybody has to stop for a minute and realize we all have value and worth."
But Sabbath doesn't end here. See if this was it, if this is all that Sabbath was, then we could go, that's fantastic, that's awesome, but it doesn't end here. It continues on. Here is what happens. The Sabbath day ended a six day week and there was a seventh day of rest. Doesn't stop there because Sabbath is not about a day. Sabbath is about something greater than that. The Sabbatical year that we learn about in Deuteronomy 15 ended a week of six years. So six years would go by. On year seven, you know what you do? Listen to what you'd do. This is just crazy. Your slaves that you had, you know what you'd do on year seven? You'd let them go. You say, "Whoa. No, no, now we are getting too much here into my culture, because now you are talking about letting people go that I control and I don't like that."
But here's even better. You know what you did with your slave on year seven? You went into momma's jewelry box and you got the best jewelry and you went into your cash box and got the Christmas bills. You went into your closet and got some nice clothes. You know what you did? You gave them your first fruits. You go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why in the world would I be giving all that stuff to somebody on year seven?" Because God says, "Do you remember when you left Egypt, I had them giving you their jewelry, their clothing and their money. You are going to do that when you release your slaves because you're going to remember that you were a slave in Egypt."
And then the radical deal, and they didn't do this, by the way, by and large. You can imagine, most people go, "I am not doing that. That doesn't seem fair. That doesn't seem right." Only until it comes to us, when we go thank you God for delivering me and for forgiving my sins. As long as you do it for me, that's great but I am not going to do it for anybody else, right. That's the whole point of Sabbath, is that if you really understand what God has done for you, you return the favor to others and we go, "Yeah, but let me reinterpret some of these passages. Surely can't mean this. Surely can't."
Well, here is the big one. This is the big one. The Jubilee is where they would take seven years of seven years, which is 49 years. On year 50, here is the way it worked. I have a piece of land that I own. Well, I am a dummy. Some of you are like going, thank God, he is finally admitting it. So I am a dummy and so, I go out and squander everything, get myself in debt to where I have to get rid of my property and go into servanthood to somebody else who now owns my property. Then, maybe year 20, that person did the same thing and they had to do it to someone else. So, now there is two people on a piece of property where somebody else is the owner.
On year 50, the lord said the property goes back to Chip. You go, "Whoa, that doesn't sound American to me." Yeah, the Bible is not written to Americans. Okay. That's not what it was written to. Says, "This is what you are going to do. You are going to reset that. It's going to go back. And we go, "Whoa, hold on. Can you imagine? Can you imagine what it will be like if Discover Card or American Express or Visa, whoever called you and said, "Mr. Bennett, we know that there is a $12,000 debt on your card but today, we are just absolutely, we are just letting that go." You would be like, "Man, amen, hallelujah." You would be like, "Heck, yeah, this is awesome." Well, on Jubilee, they didn't do it.
You understand why they didn't do it and there's laws in the Old Testament where, because God is smart, he knows what we are thinking. He says, "Okay, so if somebody goes, well it's year 48. That means I'm only going to get this for two years. Why am I going to buy this and help somebody else for two years when I know it's going to be a big reset button?" God's like, "You stop it. You are not the owner of your life. You are not the owner of your money and you are not the owner of the land. I am. Do what you are supposed to do and, in two years, give it back."
Because this is all leading us to something. This is all leading us and teaching us that Sabbath is this huge reset button that says all the stuff drowned in Egypt, all the stuff under the water, all the sins and all the problems and all the debts that you have done, God says, "Forgiven. Done, erased." And we can't even buy that. We don't even know what to do with that. Because we go, but I've got to work. I've got to do something. And how can you give me my land back when I totally abused it? God says because you don't understand what unconditional love is. Unconditional love is not based on your performance. It's based on the fact that I choose to love you and I chose to set you free.
So you can see here, Sabbath isn't a pause to refresh. It's not just some day that you hang out and watch TV and don't go to work. Sabbath is a way to re-imagine society, where true, genuine neighborliness was the new norm. And if you understand the Old Testament, then you surely can understand why Jesus says you love your enemies. Because it's all pointing to that. It's all pointing to a society that can love people as if God loved them and here is the take away. Can you imagine if, in the church, rather than gossiping and bickering and telling everybody how bad everybody is and how hurt we are because of this and how everything else is, can you imagine if we put ourselves second and said, you know what, if something is happening in my life, God is trying to teach me a lesson. As James says, if there is a trial in my life, I need to count it joy because God is doing something in my life and I need to have faith and not be double-minded and unstable. I need to trust God. We don't want to do that though. I don't want to do that.
But yet, we want true life and to get it, we've got to do what God says. We've got to follow what he says. And so many of us are saying, I want to have life. But we're not willing to do what God has asked us to do. We don't Sabbath. And even when we read our devotions, we just blow through them. Even when we spend time in prayer, we just blow through them. It's like check mark, check mark. It's not a time where we stop and really pause and say, man, God, look at what you have done in my life. Let me return the favor.
So this is where it all goes big time. Next slide here. Luke 4. Listen to this. I'm just going to read it to you, because they didn't put it up on the screen, because you need to hear this. Listen. He came to Nazareth where we have been brought up as was his custom. He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and he stood up to read. And the book of the Prophet Isaiah was handed to him and he opened the book and he found the place where it was written. Listen to what he says. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he anointed me to preach the gospel, the good news to the poor. He sent me to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." That's the Jubilee.
Jesus says, "Jubilee's here." They're all going, "Yeah, we don't do that. We don't practice that. Jubilee's here, what does he mean?" He says, "He closed the book and he gave it back to the attendant and he sat down." And Luke tells us what we should be anticipating, if we know anything about the Old Testament. "And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him." And here is what he says. "Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Not 2000 years, today. Those poor, not spiritually poor, the poor. The captives, not spiritually captive, the captives. The oppressed because of debt and in slavery, those people. He says, "I have come to set them free."
They didn't know what to do and of course it doesn't, you don't have to read too much further. You know what the end result of this whole passage is? They want to kill him. They want to get rid of him. So if all this that I am saying to you makes sense, then we should find here and I picked an obscure passage here to close with just an old passage out of the Old Testament.
I'm going to show you how to read a little bit of the Old Testament but I also want you to hear something today that will set you free. It says the sons of the prophets said to Elijah, Elijah had a school. He taught people how to be prophets. That's what he did. He says, "See the place where we dwell under your charge is too small for us." Go back there, because this is important. They understood church growth. They understood when they were in too small of a place. Okay so, just some of y'all need to hear that.
He says, "We need to go build some more log cabins for the school. So let us go to Jordan and each of us get their log and let us make a place for us to dwell there." And he said, "go." He said, "That sounds like a fantastic plan." So one of them said, "We'll be pleased to go with you servants," and he said, I'll go. He wanted Elijah to go, thought that was a good thing and Elijah said, "Sure, I will go with you."
So he went with them and when they came to the Jordan, they cut down trees. But as one was felling a log, his axe head fell into the water. Can you imagine, you're sitting there swinging your axe and all of a sudden, whoop, there goes the axe head into the water? Back then, they didn't had scuba tanks and snorkels and goggles and, when it went into the Jordan, it was gone. Okay. It falls in the water and he says, "Uh-oh, we got a problem." Thank God for the guy that asked Elijah to go, too, because had this guy not asked Elijah to go, this guy would have been in problem.
Sometimes, you might be asking people to go to something and you don't even know why you have asked them to go to something, but it might be good if they are there. So just anyway, it falls into the thing and he says, "Listen," He said, my axe was borrowed. It was somebody's else's." You all may not know this but an old iron axe head, back in ancient Near East, was worth some money. It was important.
So the man of God says, "Where did it fall?" He showed him the place and he cuts off a stick and throws it in there and the iron floats, comes up out of the water. And he said, "Take it up. Pick it up." Hebrew, it's arise it up. It's almost resurrection in its imagery. So he reached out his hand and he took it.
Now, I have told you and I have sat here for two weeks now and told you that the way the Old Testament is written is through the lens of this Egyptian release and getting out of slavery, getting out of oppression, all of this and coming to a place of learning to rest, to where God gives the ten words at Mount Sinai, to where society can truly be society and have life.
So let's look at this. Let's look at this passage. First point, he delivers this man. You may not even think about this when you read these passages but you should. He delivers this man from his indebtedness. This man is going to owe somebody for this axe head. Now, you may not know this or not, but when they were in the school of the prophets, they didn't have any money, which means this guy can't repay for the axe head. And because we don't live in this culture, we don't understand this. When you can't repay someone for their axe head, you become their slave. Elijah has just delivered this man from his indebtedness and his potential slavery by what he has done.
Again, what the Bible is constantly telling you and me is God wants to get us out of our indebtedness and our slavery and get us to a place of freedom. Not only that but the second point, and this one is awesome. The axe head is delivered through the waters of the Jordan via a piece of wood. Cuts off a stick from a tree and throws it in the water to where the axe head is and the axe head starts to float. I'll just let you marinate on that one.
Third, through the resurrection of the axe head, through the water via piece of wood, what was lost was restored. You may wonder why you came here today. God wants to restore. He is a God of restoration. Some of you have lost things in your life. Some of you have lost joy in your life. Some of you have lost peace in your life. Some of you have lost family relationships in your life and God says, "If you just would trust me, if you wouldn't do what the way that seems right to a man is, if you wouldn't follow your own intuition and your own way and say but I don't want to do this and I don't want to be humble and I would lose my ego and I might have to be a doormat and I might have to do this." He says, "If you put all that stuff aside, and you put me first and you will start working with other people, what you will find is that I can restore things that you never thought could have been restored in your life."
You can clap, this good stuff. I am wondering when you guys are like going to. One day, we are going to have a church that actually claps when it's good preaching, because I usually do preach better than you all led on. That's okay. I am just kidding. I love you guys. You know how it is.
But I want you to believe this. I want you to believe that God is a God of restoration, that when you read the Old Testament stories, they tell you over and over again what someone may lose, God gives them double on the back side. When everything is going wrong, he puts them as leaders of the whole world. That God takes people who, it looks like a bad situation, and we can't get that as Christians. We get something bad in our life and all we do is tell everybody. Oh, this went wrong, did me wrong, this was horrible, instead of going, you know what? Man, all right. If God's got some junk going on in my life, that means some deliverance and some restoration is on its way.
Then, all of a sudden, you are positive and you got a great attitude and people go whoa, what's different with you? And you go, because I have learnt to be a person of rest. I have learned to be a person of Sabbath. I see God for who he is and I love God for who he is and I have relationship with God for who he is and it changes the way I view people. It changes everything about the way I view people. And now I can even love those that have done me wrong. And here is the great one.
So Deuteronomy 19, probably wouldn't know this was in the Bible but good Old Testament people, they knew their Old Testament. Hope you all agree with me. We really need to learn our Old Testament because it really changes the way you read the New Testament. You know, like in Matthew, where Jesus is like the new Moses. Herod is killing the kids two years and younger, that's because Pharaoh killed the kids two years and younger in the book of Exodus. He goes through the waters, he goes into the wilderness, he goes up on the mountain, gives the new law. It's all Moses again and what does he say in Matthew 11? He says that, "Come to me you who are weary. Come to me that are down and out."
This is the language of Egypt because, in Matthew, Herod is the new Pharaoh and Jerusalem is the new Egypt. Just let that percolate. And the snakes that come out in the wilderness and bite everybody and John, when Jesus says the son of man has to be lifted up like the bronze serpent. He is saying that all the religion that's going on in Jerusalem is biting people and poisoning people and they need deliverance.
This is what happens in Deuteronomy. Just listen to this. It has some good stuff. You all listen to this. "When a man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood," they would know this. You've got to understand this. When they read an axe and cutting wood, they would remember this passage. "Man goes into the forest with his friend to cut wood. And his hand swings the axe cut down the tree and the iron head slips off the handle and it strikes a friend, when it comes flying off." It hits the person, he dies.
Well, nobody was there to see it, so that guy who died, his friends and family are going to want to kill this guy because they are going to assume that he did something wrong. They are not going to believe the story that it was an accident. And so the writer of Deuteronomy tells us that he needs to go flee to what is called a city of refuge, which the New Testament says Jesus is our city of refuge, but here is the cool thing.
If you understand the story and the axe head has gone off and it's flown and hit somebody and killed them, when Elijah pulls the reset back and everything goes back, sort of like slow motion, you should be also envisioning, and you can go to the forth one now, that this resurrected axe head that flies off and then is returned is also an imagery of restoring life to someone who has been hurt, even inadvertently, which means this whole little [inaudible 00:43:30] that I just read to you, when you understand it through the lens of Sabbath, through the lens of rest, through the lens of Egypt, what you do here is you have a perfect restoration of just this crazy scene of an axe head that is showing you something deeper, that God is into restoring and God is to getting you out of slavery and he is also into restoring damaged relationships, which is a perfect image of Sabbath.
God wants to restore you and me to a place with him. But he also wants to restore you and me and humanity to a place of community. And you know where that should happen first and foremost? Right here. Somebody does you wrong, what are you going to do? I am going to tell 14 people about it. Well, you can do that. You are not helping the cause. And what we do is we lie to ourselves because we have such a culture thing. I love it. I hear it all the time, people go. Now listen, I am not trying to say anything bad about you. Yeah, you are. Shut up. That's the way they do it. I am not trying to say anything bad. When you catch yourself doing that, just zip it because everything you are getting ready to say is vindicating you. Because it really is all about us, at that point. It's all about me when I say that.
And God is like it isn't about you. It isn't about what you think. It's about what I think and that's why we like Jesus to be our savior but not our Lord. It's our Lord. This is what I want you to do. It's real simple. One, I want to you love God. Two, I want you to love your neighbor as yourself. And everything is fulfilled in that. Everything is fulfilled in Sabbath. Love God, love your neighbor.
So what I would ask you this morning is take it up. Reach down and take it. God has giving you rest. God has giving you peace. He's given you holiness. He's given you righteousness. He's given you everything that pertains to life and Godliness. Everything you need, everything I need. Take it up. Reach down and take it up, because the world is not in need of another politician. The world is not in need of something different in Washington. The world is in need of the church being a church that lives out the Sabbath, that puts God first and puts people first. That's the answer to humanity. That is the answer to it all.
So take it up and here is your rest axiom. Somebody made fun of me, said how can you have a rest to do list? Now I said, okay, good. So this is the rest axiom. I am sure somebody will find a way of works out of this one too, but anyway, the rest axiom. Here is what I want you to do today. I want you to learn the word remember. Remember what God has done for you. Take moments during the day. Take moments during the week and remember that he is God. He is first. He is the God and then I am going to give you a story here that will drive this home and we will get out of here.
It is gratitude that prompted an old man to visit an old broken pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night, until his death in 1973, he would return, walking slowly and slightly stooped over with a large bucket of shrimp. The seagulls would flock to this old man and he would feed them from his bucket.
Many years before, October 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas McArthur in New Guinea but there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life. Somewhere over the South Pacific, the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low. So the men ditched their plane in the ocean. For nearly a month, Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather, the scorching sun.
They spent many sleepless nights recoiling as giant sharks would ram their rafts and, just by the way of envisioning this, the largest raft they had was nine feet by five feet. The largest shark was ten feet. But of all their enemies at sea, there was one that proved the most formidable and that was starvation. Eight days out into this month long journey, their rations were long gone. It would take a miracle to sustain them.
In Captain Eddie's own words, he said, "Cherry, "and that was the B17 pilot, Captain William Cherry. "He said Cherry read the service that afternoon in the raft and we finished with a prayer for deliverance and a hymn of praise. There was some talk but it tapered off into the oppressive heat and, with my hat pulled down over my eyes to keep out some of the glare, I dozed off."
Captain Rickenbacker felt something. "Something landed on my head and I knew it was a seagull. I don't know how I knew, I just knew, and everybody knew too." No one said a word, but peering out from under his brim without moving his head, he said, I could see the expression on their faces. They were staring at that gull, because the gull meant food if I could catch it."
And the rest, as they say, is history. Captain Eddie caught the gull. Its flesh was eaten, its intestines were used to use for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone seagull, uncharacteristically hundreds of miles from land, offered itself as a sacrifice that day. We all know that Captain Eddie made it, but now you know something about him. He never forgot because every Friday evening, about sunset, on a lonely stretch along eastern Florida, you could see an old man walking, white haired, bushy eyebrow, slightly bent, his bucket filled with shrimp to feed the seagulls to remember that one which, on a day long past, gave itself without struggle, like mana in the wilderness.
What God is asking you and me to do is to remember, remember what he has done for us. Remember we too were slaves in Egypt. Remember, for those of you who are successful, when you worked for that boss that treated you bad, that told you were no good. And then one day, you had your own and you find yourself doing the same. As Christians, we're to remember. We are to remember that that's not the way we do with people, because that's not the way God does with us. What we need to do is become church that can truly remember, which is what Sabbath is all about, to pause for a moment and let God be God and learn how to treat our neighbors.
Let us pray. Dear heavenly father, I come to you this morning and I ask that you would help us to be a church that remembers. Lord, I pray that everybody here at their seat would make their seat an alter for just a moment, to remember. That Lord, the fragmented relationships that we have, the difficulties that we have, the problems that we have, that if we would do what you ask us to do and believe you in faith, you are a God that still pulls off the miraculous. You can restore relationships, families, finances, health, all of those things, if we would just believe you and what we need to do is stop and remember. We need to be people of Sabbath. Help us to be that, in Jesus name. And everybody said, amen.
Next week, I give you my word that what we have been studying, the biggest light bulb is going to go off. I told you when I started this series that it was like a math book. You wouldn't understand chapter three without what we have done here. I guarantee you, this coming weekend, the light bulb is going to go off, because we are going to go back to the original creation and talk about what rest is. It's going to blow your mind, now that you have had some of this ground work laid.
Please be here, because it will change your life and then after that, we are going to send several weeks on real, practical things on how then do I apply this rest that I have learnt about into my life. And I believe, ultimately, we'll be better as people and a church for doing that. I only have one announcement. Men's get together tonight, from a seven to nine. That's rain or shine. No matter what, we are going to be there and we would love to see you there. So if you're a man and you want to go heave, you can.
So, if y'all would stand with me, let's get out of here. Daniel, thank you. Servant of the most high Lord. I feel a new clicker coming on. Get behind me, clicker. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that, as we walk out of here today, I pray that we walk out of here renewed but I also pray that we walk out of here challenged. I want to pray that we would really stop and think about what it means to be people of the Sabbath and what that would look like in our life and, Lord, give us the faith to believe it and do it. So, Lord, as we walk out of here, lead, guide and direct us, help us to be the lights that you have created us to and bring us back safely to when we meet again. In Jesus name and everybody said, amen. See you shortly.