International Ministerial Congress

We’ve just returned from the International Ministerial Congress, of the Church of God (Seventh Day), hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Represented by 100 delegates from 45 countries, the congress met to continue it’s Christ-led mandate of sharing “The Whole Word for the Whole World”.

What a wonderful time of inspiring worship, powerful preaching, great fellowship amidst the business of the Congress.

Thus, since we’ve returned, we’ve been busy editing and uploading a series of videos, not only in time for the IMC’s annual Sabbath on Nov 5th, but also with a bigger vision of utilising media for the sake of the gospel.

The above short clip was spontaneously filmed by Jamin Trujillo, promoting the annual IMC Sabbath event.

The Sabbath Rest

 

Scientists predict that in approximately four billion years’ time, the sun will run out of the hydrogen that fuels it. As a result of the enormous gravitational pull inward, it will begin to collapse in on itself. The sun will then reach a point of critical mass, whereupon it will expand to become a red giant, and in doing so destroy not only the earth but the entire solar system.

The Bible also predicts that one day the earth will be destroyed by fire. God says that beyond that there will be a new heaven and new earth.

What does this have to do with the Sabbath? It’s all about time.

The weekly Sabbath rest is more than just a reminder that as physical humans we’re bound by constraints of space and time. It’s about holiness, it’s about REST, and it’s about being at one with God.

When this earth, as we know it, no longer exists, neither will the current parameters of days and nights, weeks, months or the years that help govern our passage through time.

At the beginning of the known era of humanity, there are two things that are intriguing in the Genesis account of creation.

Firstly, mankind was created after God’s own “image and likeness”. Thus, we were made with a capacity for relationships, were made to be creative, to have hopes and dreams. In other words, we have a mind that compares to nothing else in the known created world.

And, secondly, the creation week was concluded by the Great God (who doesn’t weary) by resting from all the work He had done. He set the seventh day apart, and made it holy. Later, Jesus Christ would give greater insight into why this was.

One of the things we learn from the creation week is that we’re moulded after the Godkind. One particular and obvious difference, however, is that, unlike God, we’re bound by the constraints of time and space, and as God told Adam and Eve, they would one day “surely die”. It was God who instituted a seven-day cyclic pattern at the beginning of the “human era” to assist, it seems, in marking the passing of time. But with that passing of time God included an “escape clause” picturing rest, for God told Adam (and Eve in similar manner after they had sinned) that his life would be characterised by labour — by the sweat of the brow, and further depicted by “thorns and thistles” (Gen. 3:17-19).

This was fascinating material and a road of discovery for a young boy growing up in one of the Churches of God. The passing of time, as marked by the weekly, seventh day Sabbath rest, was celebrated in our family home by a special Friday-night mealtime. Mum would cook a special dinner, using shiny cutlery and our finest crockery. Sometimes she would place a small vase with some fresh flowers from her extensive garden. Dad would offer us children a small glass of wine. He also rehearsed a point that Jesus had made: that “the Sabbath was made for man” (and not just for the Jews). (Mark 2:27)

Thus each passing week the Sabbath would be a natural reminder that God had created everything, and that along with our toil He promises us rest. When the Ten Commandments were given to ancient Israel, God again reminded his people about the creation of the Sabbath at the beginning of the human era. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” God said. Then God elaborated: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:11)

Despite the toil in our often mundane routine of earning a living, God wanted mankind to taste, to appreciate and to value the concept of rest. Jesus’ compelling words ring out for all time when He exemplified the Sabbath rest by saying: “Come to me all ye who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

In time, I also learned what God accomplished through the coming of Jesus Christ. I learned about the spiritual rest found only in Jesus. I learned that all things have their fulfillment in Him. And as a result I benefitted enormously from the anticipated weekly time of rest, worship and fellowship. The Sabbath became recognised in our family not as some kind of legalistic old covenant appendage, but as a treasured gift of the Lord, breaking the yoke of slavery. The words “Thy Kingdom come…” often fittingly featured in Sabbath evening prayer. There was a yearning in our hearts for the passing of time, when the ultimate rest for all mankind would be fulfilled.

Then it was with interest that I read of Jesus’ encounters with the misled Pharasaical application of the law. The Jews in their zeal had turned a day of rest into a burdensome day, thus missing the point of what true rest was all about. Today, we live with the opposite extreme in our western society: there is little demarcation between the holy and the profane. (But that’s another subject altogether).

Jesus chose the Sabbath on several occasions to confront the Jewish religious leaders. He said that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (Matthew 12:8), and that it is “lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” He used their own limited understanding of law to chastise their hard-heartedness and blindness.

The Pharisees reasoned that He could have chosen any other day of the week to heal; on one occasion we read where He asked those (critically) watching Him whether “it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath.” Jesus chose to heal, to bring rest to those “in bondage,” within the framework of the Sabbath. In one reference to healing on the Sabbath day, He said: “My Father is working, and I must do the will of Him who sent me.”

The Sabbath rest as exprienced in the Churches of God today is all about Jesus Christ and His work. It was made by Him, it foreshadowed Him, it represents Him, and it exemplifies His work and will. The Sabbath can be an expression of Christ-centredness. In today’s frenetic, secular lifestyle, it can also be a dynamic part of discipleship: being prepared to forego all and follow Christ, whatever the cost, whether it be social life, weekend sports, or work. It’s a recognition that enjoying an extra special Friday-night meal as an expression of God’s love to your family amidst the fine food, laughter, learning, and the rehearsed hope of a better world.

The Sabbath rest is a gift of the Lord. It’s a gift to man. It marks the passing of time, but more than that, it points us to a time yet future when holiness will transcend all, and all will find rest.

Regarding the future of the cyclic hours and days, months and seasons, which include the weekly Sabbath, Jesus Himself tells us that one day there will be no night, with no need for the sun or moon, for the old (current) earth and heaven will have ceased to be (Revelation 21).  We gain a glimpse that there will be a new earth and a new heaven where God Himself will be the light. The old sun and the solar system of which the earth is now a part will have long been forgotten. At that time the physical Sabbath rest will have finally served its purpose, and we gain a glimpse of this time from the writings of a prophet of old on this subject:

“As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. (Isaiah 66:22-23 NIV)

Written by John T Klassek