Num 15:32                            Gathering Sticks on the Sabbath                                   4/6/2014

·         How Severe Is God’s Law? (Num 15:32-36)

 

 

 

 

 

#1.       The Sabbath of Rest (Lev 23:1-5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

·         Our Deliverance (Deut 5:15, Rom 10:17, 3:11-12, 10:4, Phil 2:13, Rom 4:8)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       Is There Salvation Through Sabbath Observance? (Mal 3:6, Jer 17:19-27, Eph 2:8-9,

Mark 4:33-34, Mat 13:34, 12:8, Mark 2:27)

 

 

 

 

 

·         The Man Who Gathered Sticks (1Kings 2:13-25)

 

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Prophecy of Numbers, Num 15:32 (2X). This event took place when the children of Israel walked out of their slavery in Egypt, and now they were walking through the wilderness. In the spiritual picture their bondage in Egypt was a picture of our bondage to sin and Satan before we were saved, and being saved actually means we are “Born Again.” Their delivery from Egypt was a picture of the moment of our salvation, when God declared that we are not guilty, for all our sins were paid by Christ on the cross. Their walk for 40 years through the wilderness was a picture of our walk through this world until the Lord takes us into His holy heaven, or until the Lord ends our earthly life in some other way.

·         How Severe Is God’s Law? (Num 15:32-36)

We have here the story of a man who picked up some sticks, which means some kindling wood, presumably to light a fire. And it happened to be a Sabbath Day. What is a Sabbath Day? We will see that later, but first we should read about the event as described in Num 15:32-36.

Num 15:32  And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath day.

Num 15:33  And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

Num 15:34  And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

Num 15:35  And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

Num 15:36  And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

This is a very strange story, and it apparently conveys the message that God is an unmerciful God who condemns people to eternal condemnation for apparently a misdemeanor. But this is only apparently so. And thus, the remainder of this sermon deals with setting the matter straight on what God has done. Here was a man who was collecting some kindling for cooking his breakfast. What is so bad about that? He was not doing something evil. He was not stealing; he was not killing anyone; he was not committing adultery; he was not fighting; he was not bearing false witness against his neighbor; he was not embezzling people out of their portion of kindling wood. He did none of those things. He was quietly minding his own business, just collecting some wood that was laying on the ground. Then the people who saw him grabbed him and brought him to Moses and Aaron. Moses put him in jail until he received an answer from the Lord what should be done with this man. And the Lord said to Moses: “Stone him so that he dies.” And the whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him, and he died. This death sentence from the Lord was an indication that this man was condemned to eternal condemnation. This man was cursed forever. And this happened to be a Sabbath Day. This man had desecrated the Sabbath Day. Please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Leviticus, Lev 23:1 (2X). This entire chapter of Lev 23 deals with the feast days of the Lord. And God is listing these feast days beginning with the most important ones first. And so, we understand that these feast days belong to the ceremonial law. One of the Ten Commandments belongs to the Ceremonial Law, and each commandment in the Ceremonial Law is a picture of Christ or a picture of the atonement of Christ for the church. Let us now read about the Sabbath of Rest.

#1.       The Sabbath of Rest (Lev 23:1-5)

Lev 23:1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Lev 23:2  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

Lev 23:3  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of Rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Lev 23:4  These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Lev 23:5  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S Passover.

And so, what is the most important feast day of the Lord? Verse 3 says it is the Seventh Day “Sabbath of Rest.” The word Sabbath already means Rest. And thus the title of this feast day is “The Rest of the Rest,” which sounds strange, but that is how the Lord defines it. Then God gave a listing of all the other feast days of the Lord, beginning with the Lord’s Passover. We knew that Passover would be among the top of the feast days of the Lord, for during the Passover the Passover Lamb was slain. The Lamb is one of the most important symbols in the Bible, for the Lamb represents the Lord Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation the Lamb as a picture of Christ is prominently in view. And when the children of Israel were freed from their bondage in Egypt their victory song was: “The Blood of the Lamb Shall Make You Free.” Symbolically the entire nation of Israel was liberated because the blood of the Lamb had protected them from the Angel of Death. But now we need to ask ourselves, “What is so special about the Seventh Day Sabbath of Rest?” We can begin to see that when we turn a few pages forward to Deut 5:12-15, and there we read,

Deut 5:12  Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

Deut 5:13  Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:

Deut 5:14  But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.

Deut 5:15  And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.

Two things are emphasized in this passage: #1, No work by us. #2, Remember your deliverance.

In other words, the Sabbath of Rest is characterized by a total Rest from everything by us, especially no work done by us, and this we do to sanctify the Sabbath of Rest. To sanctify means to make it holy, to set it apart for the Lord, to dedicate it to Him out of our love for Him. And you must do it in such a way that your manservant and your maidservant will also have the opportunity to sanctify their Sabbath of Rest. This sounds like a contradiction for the manservant and the maidservant. And thus we can see that the Lord is leading us in a direction where the symbolism of the Sabbath of Rest will play a greater part than the literal understanding of doing no work on the Sabbath. It is amazing that the church of today will fall into the same error that Old Testament Israel fell into. God gave Israel certain signs and activities that we now recognize as the Ceremonial Law, and these were signs and shadows of Christ and of His atonement for our sins. But national Israel did not see them as signs and shadows of things to come. National Israel considered them as an end in itself. And so they began to obey these ceremonial laws to the letter of the law, rather than seeing these as symbols of Christ, and worship Christ through these signs and shadows. Is God pleased with ceremonial hoopla? No! God is not at all pleased with ceremonial hoopla. We can see that throughout the Old Testament. For example, God says in Isa 1:10-15,

Isa 1:10  Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

Isa 1:11  To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

Isa 1:12  When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

Isa 1:13  Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

Isa 1:14  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

Isa 1:15  And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

God calls the people of Israel by the name of Sodom and Gomorrah. He tells them, and He tells us, that their lives manifest no repentance, for their hands are full of blood. It does not mean that everyone in the nation of Israel has been on a murdering spree, so that their hands are full of blood. But it means that they have been deceiving many people, and have been deceiving their children, so that those who have been deceived are on the way to Hell. Spiritually they have been murdered, and their condition leads others to be murdered as well. Now, here is an example that God is not pleased with ceremonial hoopla, because the god whom they are worshipping does not exist. They were engaging in idolatry with a theology that came out of their own mind. It is amazing that the pastors of today have not learned the lessons that Old Testament Israel went through. The pastors of today still refuse to see the spiritual meaning of the words God laid down in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. They are afraid to see the spiritual meaning, because they do not have the guidance of God the Holy Spirit. And so, they try the literal meaning, and are led into false gospels, just like Old Testament Israel fell into. What are those false gospels? Let me give you here an example.

When we read Eph 2:8-9 we read two verses that you probably have already memorized.

Eph 2:8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Eph 2:9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

This is the true Gospel; no question about it. It is by God’s unmerited favor that we are saved, and are given faith as a gift from God. And there is nothing that we did, or any qualifications that we had, which gave God any guidance to whom He should save and whom He should not save. Christ alone shall save us. This is the true Gospel. But when we interpret a passage and we come to a conclusion which is contrary to this statement of the true Gospel, we know that we have not interpreted that passage truthfully. Our interpretation is garbage. And this should be our guide. Any time that we arrive at two different interpretations of the Gospel, we have declared God a liar, and thus one of the two interpretations, or perhaps both interpretations have to go. We should not be afraid of spiritual interpretations, for God the Holy Spirit will guide us how we should proceed.

·         Our Deliverance (Deut 5:15, Rom 10:17, 3:11-12, 10:4, Phil 2:13, Rom 4:8)

Let us also remember our deliverance. God said in Deut 5:15, “therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.” What does that mean? It means that the Sabbath Day was a reminder “that the LORD thy God brought thee out of our bondage to Egypt through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm.” The Sabbath Day was a reminder of Christ buying us out of our bondage to Sin and Satan. What does that mean? It means that our deliverance out of our bondage to sin and Satan was worked out by Christ on the cross of Calvary. This is what Deut 5:15 teaches us and this is indeed what the whole Bible teaches us. We cannot save ourselves. The Lord Jesus Christ has to do it, and He will communicate this act of God to us and we will believe it.

Rom 10:17, “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the (spoken) word of God.” God speaks, and new life enters a dead soul, and it comes alive. This gift will be given to us by grace, which means it is given by God’s unmerited favor, it is given as a free gift from God. We may not believe that our obedience to the fourth commandment will earn our salvation, for that is a salvation by works. We also may not believe that God has promised salvation to us when we obey the fourth commandment, for that is also a salvation by works gospel. That is the false gospel of Jacob Arminius, a theology professor from Leiden in the Netherlands. People who are following the theology of Jacob Arminius are called Arminians. Arminians do not believe the God of the Bible; they believe another god who is more like themselves. They believe in a god who is a responsive god, not a proactive God. Let me explain this in another way.

When we enter the workplace somewhere in our industry and we are given a job, some people will do exactly what their job requires. They are called “responsive” workers. If they have a shortsighted manager, this manager will be very happy with their work, for he will receive exactly what he asked for. However, in this world of competing industries there is always a drive to deliver products that are not the same products as last year, but are better than last year’s products. You cannot accomplish this with “responsive” workers, who are driven by managers who know only last year’s products. You must hire “proactive” workers who will take initiatives in their own hand without asking for approval from their superiors. Our industries which are run by responsive managers and responsive workers will be outperformed by their competitors which are run by proactive managers and proactive workers who are bringing up all the new ideas. The God of the Bible is not a responsive god, but He is a Proactive God. In other words, our God is not a god who waits around until people ask Him to save them. If our God would be doing that, then nobody will be saved. Do we believe this? The Bible says in Rom 3:11, “There is NONE that seeketh after God,” and seeking after God is certainly something that could be characterized as “doing something good.” But the Bible says in Rom 3:12,

Rom 3:12, “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, NO, NOT ONE.” And so, if God would be waiting until someone is seeking Him, then He would still be waiting until now for the first person to come to Him. Therefore God will take matters of salvation into His own hand, and He will save someone so that this person will be seeking Him. And so, we have a proactive God. Arminians believe in a responsive god who cannot save them. Therefore Arminians remain unsaved until they finally abandon this wicked idolatry. For to believe in a god who waits to take action until someone of mankind points out a problem to Him and asks Him to do something about it, is idolatry. Such a god does not exist, and to pray to such a god is idolatry. We must be careful that we are not barking up the wrong tree.

Let us now return to the man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath day. What is God teaching us here? According to Deut 5:15 the Sabbath day is pointing to Christ. The fact that the Sabbath is in the Ceremonial Law is also pointing to Christ. When we are saved the Lord Jesus Christ is our Rest. Since He is the One who has created the Rest in our souls, our faith, or our trust, does not begin or end with our trust in our Sabbath observance, for that is the Law, and Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom 10:4). What do we mean by the phrase, “Christ is the end of the Law”? It does not mean that Christ has fulfilled the Law, and now the Law can be done away. We know that it cannot mean that, for “Thou shalt not kill, and Thou shalt not commit adultery, and Thou shalt not steal, and Thou shalt not covet,” are commands from God that are still valid. God says in Rom 7:12, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” And I find in Rom 7:22, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” It is not I who is doing that, but it is Christ who is doing it for me and in me. (Phil 2:13) And when we say that “Christ is the end of the Law,” it means that Christ is the end goal of the Law. The Law is not done away for all those who remain unsaved. Remember that there are two kinds of people in the world: the Elect and the Reprobate. The Elect have died to the Law of God when Christ died, and have been raised from the dead when Christ was raised. Therefore the penalty of the Law does not apply to them any more. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Rom 4:8). But for the Reprobate the Law still stands, and the penalty of the Law still holds for them, for God has not extended His grace to them. Likewise the end of the Sabbath is Christ, for loving Christ is the end goal of the Sabbaths.

#2.       Is There Salvation Through Sabbath Observance? (Mal 3:6, Jer 17:19-27, Eph 2:8-9,

Mark 4:33-34, Mat 13:34, 12:8, Mark 2:27)

We should think of this when we encounter the Sabbath and the Sabbath observance in the Bible that it is Christ who is in view. For example, please turn in your Bibles to the Prophecy of Jeremiah, Jer 17:19 (2X). We have here a long passage which seems to convey the message that there is spiritual virtue in keeping the Sabbath. We should not eliminate this passage by saying that it refers to the Old Testament, and thus it can be done away. Our God says “I change not.” (Mal 3:6). God’s way of salvation has always been “By grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9) Let us see how this applies in Jer 17:19-27,

Jer 17:19  Thus said the LORD unto me; Go and stand in the gate of the children of the people, whereby the kings of Judah come in, and by the which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem;

Jer 17:20  And say unto them, Hear ye the word of the LORD, ye kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, that enter in by these gates:

Jer 17:21  Thus saith the LORD; Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem;

Jer 17:22  Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but hallow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.

Jer 17:23  But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.

Jer 17:24  And it shall come to pass, if ye diligently hearken unto me, saith the LORD, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein;

Jer 17:25  Then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever.

Jer 17:26  And they shall come from the cities of Judah, and from the places about Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountains, and from the south, bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD.

Jer 17:27  But if ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.

Think of it now. Can we interpret this passage literally like most churches do today? What message does this passage convey to us? We can look at the individual trees of this passage, like the city of Jerusalem, and the gates thereof, and the people are quiet and resting on the seventh day of the week, and no burdens are carried through the gates on the seventh day of the week. The only exceptions will be that the people round about Jerusalem will be bringing burnt offerings, and sacrifices, and meat offerings, and incense, and bringing sacrifices of praise, unto the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. This is how most churches interpret this passage today. Is this pleasing to God? Let us think about this. What is the purpose of the Bible? The purpose of the Bible is to bring the message of salvation to the people of the world so that God will save people when they hear the message. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” And so, will a study of the individual trees of this forest bring salvation to people when they read this? The answer is; NO! God wants us to bring the overall message of the entire forest. And so, what is the gist of the message that this entire forest conveys? It is the message of Christ crucified as a payment for our sins. And where is that message hidden? It is hidden in the representation of Christ in the Sabbath of Rest. I know that this is a parabolic interpretation of this passage in Jer 17, but there is nothing wrong with that statement. Christ spoke in parables, and without a parable did He not speak unto the people (Mark 4:33-34, Mat 13:34). If we try to interpret Jer 17:19-27 in a literal way and apply it to our days we arrive at this conclusion: God commands us to hold on to obedience of the seventh day Sabbath, much like the people of the Seventh Day Adventist church are teaching today. This is a legalistic and strict adherence to the Seventh Day Sabbath. Leave your brains at the door, for you will arrive at a salvation by works, in direct contradiction to Eph 2:8-9, and this is totally unacceptable to God. You can see this clearly. Either we adopt a spiritual interpretation of Jer 17:19-27, or if we insist on a literal interpretation we will arrive at a salvation by works. This just one example of being forced to adopt a spiritual interpretation of the Word of God. And so, what did we arrive at? We arrived at:

Christ is represented by the Sabbath of Rest. Christ did all the work to give us Rest. Christ is the end goal of the Sabbath laws, for the Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath Day (Mat 12:8). He is our Sabbath Rest. We rest in Christ, because He is the ultimate place of rest for our souls.

But when we read, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” (Mark 2:27) we should not interpret this as if Christ was made for man. The Sabbath was made for man, so that man could have a perfect Rest in Christ. But when you have a parabolic interpretation do not carry your definitions unchanged from one sentence to another. Every interpretation is defined by its context. This is a little hard for people who like to catch me and make me look stupid, but that is part of the job. I do not mind this at all. There are many people who like to ask me questions, but their questions do not have the goal of learning something; their questions have the goal of tricking me into saying something which proves that I was wrong. Well, to prove that I was wrong is no great accomplishment. I am not perfect, and thus there are ample opportunities to show that I was wrong here and there. When I consider the individual trees, I know that I am not 100% correct. But it is my goal to show to you the forest that I am flying over, and to show you what the overall message is from God, or what the gist is of a certain chapter or a certain passage. In this I would like to be accurate, by God’s help, if it pleases Him to give me wisdom.

·         The Man Who Gathered Sticks (1Kings 2:13-25)

Let us now come back to where we started from 45 minutes ago. The man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath was stoned to death. Did he deserve that? We do not know if this man actually knew that the Sabbath was representing Christ. But what he was doing was to add his works to the works of Christ. This is not a far-fetched idea. We can read about a similar situation in 1King 2:13-25. Please turn in your Bibles to 1Kings 2:13 (2X). We have a very wise God who gave Solomon his wisdom.

1Kings 2:13  And Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably.

1Kings 2:14  He said moreover, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And she said, Say on.

1Kings 2:15  And he said, Thou knowest that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel set their faces on me, that I should reign: howbeit the kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother’s: for it was his from the LORD.

1Kings 2:16  And now I ask one petition of thee, deny me not. And she said unto him, Say on.

1Kings 2:17  And he said, Speak, I pray thee, unto Solomon the king, (for he will not say thee nay,) that he give me Abishag the Shunammite to wife.

1Kings 2:18  And Bathsheba said, Well; I will speak for thee unto the king.

1Kings 2:19  Bathsheba therefore went unto king Solomon, to speak unto him for Adonijah. And the king rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a seat to be set for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right hand.

1Kings 2:20  Then she said, I desire one small petition of thee; I pray thee, say me not nay. And the king said unto her, Ask on, my mother: for I will not say thee nay.

1Kings 2:21  And she said, Let Abishag the Shunammite be given to Adonijah thy brother to wife.

1Kings 2:22  And king Solomon answered and said unto his mother, And why dost thou ask Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? ask for him the kingdom also; for he is mine elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah.

1Kings 2:23  Then king Solomon sware by the LORD, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if Adonijah have not spoken this word against his own life.

1Kings 2:24  Now therefore, as the LORD liveth, which hath established me, and set me on the throne of David my father, and who hath made me an house, as he promised, Adonijah shall be put to death this day.

1Kings 2:25  And king Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he fell upon him that he died.

You must know that Abishag the Shunammite was the last woman to sleep with king David before he died. By right of inheritance Abishag was the queen. Adonijah, the brother of Solomon, desired to be king. And now he is asking the queen to be his wife. It was his first step to acquire the kingdom for himself. But Solomon was very wise. Solomon saw through this plot, and condemned his brother to death. Similarly, the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath was adding his works to the work of Christ, and for this he was stoned to death. If God would have allowed him to live he would have perpetuated a works-gospel, where people could be saved by adding their works to the work of Christ. You can see that this possibility is ruled out at the core. Can people be saved by asking Christ to be their Savior? Is this additional work on the part of people acceptable to Christ? The answer is a 100% NO! Salvation is given entirely by the grace of God, and there is not one thing we can do to make this happen. In fact, if we do ask Him to be our Savior, it is a death wish. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace, and it must remain that way.

And so, the man who picked up some sticks was asking if his works may be added to the work of Christ on the cross. The answer is a definite NO! Salvation is a definite work of God’s grace, and nothing may interfere with that principle.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.