Saturday, September 4, 2021

Sabbath Sanctuary: The Sabbath Year

I have been contemplating sabbath rest. Resting has been something of which I write often and it has been at the forefront of my existence for the last couple of years.

Though we all are aware of the sabbath commandment to rest on the seventh day, my contemplation has been focused on the year of rest that the Lord commanded the Israelites:

The Lord then spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I am going to give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its produce, but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. You shall not reap your harvest’s aftergrowth, and you shall not gather your grapes of untrimmed vines; the land shall have a sabbatical year {Lev. 25:1-5 NASB}.

As I read this passage, I thought about how hard this must have been for them. It is important to remember that this community was an agricultural one, their livelihood was tied to the land. If they could not grow their crops, they had nothing. But the Lord is always merciful, and He foresees their trouble and before they can even raise their lips to complain He answers them:

You shall therefore follow My statutes and keep My judgments so as to carry them out, so that you may live securely on the land. Then the land will yield its produce, so that you can eat your fill and live securely on it. But if you say, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we do not sow nor gather in our produce?’ then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the produce for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the produce, eating the old until the ninth year when its produce comes in {Lev. 25:18-22 NASB}.

The Lord is always faithful. If they will only but trust in Him, even during the sabbath, He will not leave them or forsake them.

I have been meditating on this for some time now because I seem to be in a sabbath of my own. Those of you who know me know that I garden every year as I am working toward being able to grow as much of my own food as possible. I also love flowers and grow them as well. I am one of those who sow her seeds early so that as soon as winter has made its last stand (and a very cold spring where I am) and the threat of frost has vanished, I plant them in the garden as soon as possible (also we have a short growing season).


Well, this year was the first year that I can remember that I have not planted any seeds and did not have a garden. While this may seem irrelevant to some it is a huge disappointment for me. Though I don’t rely on my little farm for my livelihood, Piper’s Farm brings me much joy. I love planting seeds and watching the miracle that it produces in the fruit for it is part of the creation that I love. It was not to be this year. In April, I had major foot surgery so I knew I would not be able to attend to the seeds or get them planted, and I did not want to burden the husband as he already had to pick up the slack for me in so many other areas, so I didn’t plant any. While it was something I needed to lay down, it was still very hard for me. I walk the yard often looking at the place where my garden is usually growing to see only weeds {which are screaming at me as well}.





This is where my sabbath has occupied my mind because it has spiritual implications as well. We are not the ancient Israelites, but there are some spiritual implications concerning the sabbath and the waiting periods that we often find ourselves in. This has certainly been a year of sabbath for me. In April, I found myself in the recovery room after foot surgery with very low oxygen levels. So, long story made a tad shorter, they found a nodule in my lung. The location of the nodule was very problematic and could not easily be reached. I endured two bronchoscopies in two weeks, and they were not able to retrieve a sample size of the tissue large enough to determine a diagnosis. Then a PET scan, then a diagnosis of adenocarcinoma. Then, three weeks ago, they removed the nodule by removing half of my right lung, and thankfully, it is not cancer—the goodness of God displayed. I am recovering, and will be fine, but I feel as though I have lived in a state of recovery for most of this year {also part of why I have been absent from this space}. Though I was still in school working on my Ph.D. in the spring, I have had to postpone school until later in October. This was very hard for me to do; I wrestled with the decision for weeks. I also had to step down from my editing work at my church where I was employed. It feels like everything I am and everything I do is gone. A sabbath rest, though mine is not in obedience, mine seems like I had no choice.

There are seasons where we will feel as though we have been emptied of everything and we have no choice but to trust the Lord in the season of sabbath. I cannot fully convey the frustration in my life right now as I struggle with everything being stripped away. I have to rest in order to recover, I have no choice. I don’t have the strength to do much.

I imagine this is how the Israelites may have felt in that sabbath year. But God is so faithful to us. Just as He was with them and blessed them in the sixth year so that the sabbath year would not be a strain for them, He is with us. He is with me. When we are faithful to be in His Word and walk with Him daily, we are strengthened to walk through these times. The Lord promised us that we will not be alone, He has sent the Comforter to keep us:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, so that He may be with you forever; the Helper is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him; but you know Him because He remains with you and will be in you {Jn. 14: 16-17 NASB}.

He will not leave us, and He is faithful to walk through them with us. The Apostle Paul was told that God’s grace was sufficient for him when he cried out to God during one of his struggles {2 Cor. 12:9}, His grace is sufficient to help us do what we cannot do for ourselves.

During this time, I have had to completely deconstruct who I am and what I am doing or should be doing for Him on this earth and have had to rebuild from the foundation up. Though this is a hard thing to walk through, He is faithful in the waiting—in this sabbath. He is working towards my good when I rest in Him. I have no choice but to wait on Him and then He works in me to form me into His image; to make me more Christlike, which is always for my good:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” {Rom. 8: 28-30 NASB}.

So, I will wait. I will take this sabbath rest and trust and wait on Him to bring forth His purpose in my life, because He has given me enough spiritual riches in abundance to endure this sabbath, as frustrating as it can be at times, and to live under His sovereign hand.

 

If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my relief comes” {Job. 14:14 NASB}.


Rest in God this beautiful Sabbath weekend.....




Sunday, May 23, 2021

A Prayer For Pentecost

“Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds.


Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without your Spirit we could never raise our voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord.”


Author Unknown



God’s Appointed Times: Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks

Today is Pentecost Sunday the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. Pentecost is also referred to in the Bible as the Feast of Weeks, Feast of Harvest, and the Day of Firstfruits {Ex. 23:16Num. 28}. Pentecost falls on the fiftieth day from Passover. It was a one-day feast and celebration {Ex. 23:1634:22Lev. 23:15,22Num. 28}. 


The liturgy for the feast is found in Deuteronomy,

“You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord. You shall bring in from your dwelling places two loaves of bread as a wave offering, made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of fine flour, baked with leaven as first fruits to the Lord. Along with the bread you shall present seven one-year-old male lambs without defect, and a bull of the herd and two rams; they are to be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the Lord. You shall also offer one male goat as a sin offering, and two male lambs one year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. The priest shall then wave them with the bread of the first fruits as a wave offering with two lambs before the Lord; they are to be holy to the Lord for the priest. On this very day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be a permanent statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations” {Lev. 23:15-21}.

The Feast of Passover was the beginning of the barley harvest and Pentecost was celebrated during the wheat harvest. The feast was a wave offering to the Lord. It consisted of two loaves baked with leaven. It was made with fine flour that was sifted in order to separate the chaff from the wheat. The wave offering was a way for the Hebrews to exhibit their dependence on God, not only for the harvest but also for their daily bread, an offering of thanksgiving.

This is of course the first Pentecost, a foreshadow of the Pentecost in the New Testament. God gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai written on tablets of stone. Yet there was a promise from the Lord of a future time when the law would be written on the tablets of the heart {Jer. 31:31–34}. For thousands of years, people journeyed to Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost awaiting the promise of God. 


The Feast of Pentecost was fulfilled in Jesus when He was glorified in the resurrection and seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father. He sent the promised Helper, the Holy Spirit in the upper room to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost which was the fulfillment of God’s promise. Through the Holy Spirit, the Father wrote His precepts on the hearts of all who placed their faith in Christ. He does this still today for all who come to faith in Christ.

 

In John’s gospel account Jesus speaks and reveals how He fulfills this feast: “But Jesus answered them by saying, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’” {Jn. 12:23–24}. Jesus is the seed of grain that died for our sin. He is the Bread from Heaven made with fine flour; perfect righteousness. 

The feast of Pentecost marked the fifty days between Passover  and Pentecost, the New Testament Pentecost was fifty days from Jesus’ resurrection to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the one hundred and twenty in the upper room. 

There is so much more to say concerning the symbolism, types, and fulfillment in Christ concerning the Feast of Pentecost, but this is sufficient for now. I will write more in the future concerning God’s Appointed Times because they so beautifully speak to the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus our precious Savior.  






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