Jesus Came to Save Us from the Bible
March 5, 2014 By michaboyett
Following the Bible’s teachings on the Sabbath can be exhausting.
Seeking the freedom of scripture can lead to bondage.
Drawing near to the teachings of scripture can lead us further from God.
This is the paradox Jesus faced in the Gospels. It’s a tension that runs throughout the many stories where ordinary people, experts in the law, and religious/political leaders rejected the allegedly “heretical” teachings of Jesus in favor of their take on the Law.
They had an air-tight systematic theology that was supposed to keep them from error. They never thought that their greatest barrier between themselves and God would be their reading of Scripture itself.
The short answer is that they were devoted more to the Scriptures than to the God of the Scriptures.
The Jewish leaders had systems for interpreting and obeying Scripture, and as they tried to be faithful to the commands of God, their focus shifted from, “How can I become a devoted follower of God?” to “How can I become a devoted follower of scripture?”
The shift is subtle but unmistakable with the results it produces.
The Sabbath itself wasn’t used to find God. Following the Sabbath itself in a particular way became the means AND the end. Never mind one’s spiritual condition during the Sabbath. Never mind the healing that should take place. Never mind God’s concern for those who are broken and hurting. So long as you were resting properly, you were considered faithful.
The people existed to fulfill the Sabbath rather than the Sabbath existing to fulfill people.
In and of itself, the Sabbath did them no good if they simply obeyed the teachings of Scripture that governed it.
The Sabbath only benefits us if we use it to draw near to God. That’s the larger lesson that looms over the Gospel stories.
So many people preferred to make obeying the Bible an end in and of itself without actually seeing it as a means to find God. They weren’t able to rest in God because they were too busy arguing over what you could carry, how far you could travel, and how to prepare a meal.
They wore themselves out trying to rest “biblically.”
When I read what people write, criticizing the various Jewish leadership, or discussing the Sabbath, I often realize that the person doing the writing does not have a good grasp of the law, and what it was to live under the Mosaic covenant.
In the Mosaic covenant, the children of Israel are treated as a group, not as individuals. If the group called Israel as a nation of people, failed to keep the Mosaic law, then the entire group would experience a punishment meant to correct. That punishment might be a drought for the entire land. Now in any large group, some would obey the law, and some would not. If the leadership did not obey the law, then everyone was punished. Those who had been obedient were punished along with those who were not obedient. A drought meant crops would fail so no food, and the group would experience starvation.
Now imagine you are a member of a group of only 1000 people, all living in a small town. If the entire town followed the rules/laws, then every week a delivery truck would bring in food for the week. But, if 200 people or 300 people violated the law, and say the law was twice a day, everyone had to go for a 3 mile walk, the food would not be delivered. If no food is available for a week, people are going to be looking for a way to encourage the 200 - 300 people to remember to walk their 3 miles twice a day.
So, the Pharisees looked to find what God wanted and commanded, and how to fulfill the laws. And they looked to train the people. Not by force, because you can't make someone do something, but by encouraging, teaching etc. The Pharisees went out to every village, and made themselves available to teach.
On the Sabbath, the basic command was to stay home and rest. While it is good to pray and seek God, there is no command that one should do that on the Sabbath. There is a command to do that every day. So, to relate prayer, worship, etc, to the Sabbath, is not really biblical, as that is a daily activity, not just a Sabbath activity.
The Sabbath command is to rest. But, in a land with no cars, no buses, planes etc, the only way to get around is by foot, or by riding an animal. The number of miles one can travel in a day is limited so a person can be traveling for days or weeks. Well, if the Sabbath is a day of rest, can a person travel without breaking the Sabbath law? If the entire nation/people are dependent on rain for crops on your keeping the Sabbath, and how far you walk today could mean your family gets to go hungry for a time, I think care for people would cause you to consider the law from God.
The major issue with the article so far is a lack of understanding of the Mosaic covenant, and attempting to superimpose the New Covenant into the Mosaic covenant.
So, I have to ask, if God gave the scriptures, would it be caring about what God wants, loving Him, obeying Him, to ignore what He commanded in the scriptures?
Luke 11:42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
Jesus never said not to tithe mint, rue, and every little herb. He said to do that, but don't neglect justice and loving God. Justice is the way to treat people and loving God is the way of treating God. The greatest commandment is Loving God and the second is similar, treating neighbors how you would want to be treated. In Judaism, there are books written about the physical laws which are considered easier to keep and the laws concerning love, and how to treat others, are considered the most difficult laws to keep.
Yes, some people have a check off list and can perform their list without loving God and treating people well. Lists are easier and heart is harder. Obedience for the sake of obedience is demanded in scripture in the Mosaic covenant. If God commanded it, it was to be done, no matter how silly it seemed. Why wash in the Jordan river, rather then a better, and bigger river? Because Jesus said to wash in the Jordan river.
Finally, following the scriptures teaching for the Sabbath is not exhausting. It is a very relaxing day, and a wonderful break from the rest of the week of work.