May 12 - Encouragement to Be With God

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 
Praise God.
Praise God that he is our God, the Lord of Hosts, and the God of Jacob, and that he rules over all, and yet he is with us personally. Praise God that he is our refuge, strength, and fortress, and when he speaks, the earth melts, and yet he cares for us intimately. Psalm 46, Psalm 91, Psalm 23.
 
Acknowledge sin.
Confess the sin of having too low a view of God’s being and power. Confess the sin of our disbelieving God’s love, and provision for us. Ask God to give you a desire to know him as he truly is, and to understand the reality of his love for you in Christ.

 

Let us "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.
Pray that the Lord would use this time in the lives of those in our families who are currently without God, and without hope in their lives, to draw them to cry out to him for mercy. 
 

 

Let's read Luke 6:1-5.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
Just to keep something of the chronological order floating around in the back of our heads. While Luke brings us to an event that occurred on a Sabbath day, it didn't happen immediately after what we considered yesterday. What did take place was that, while Jesus was responding to the question about fasting, a man called Jairus, one of the synagogue rulers, approached him and pleaded with him to come to his home and raise his daughter, who had just died. Matthew 9:18. Luke records this, as we shall see in due course, in 8:41. Luke now skips ahead to an event that actually took place after the appointment of the twelve disciples. Matthew 12:1ff. To be honest, I need to do more work to try and find out why he took this approach. I know I've said previously, and I believe rightly so, that he was profiling the authority and power of Jesus, hence his focus on Jesus’ teaching and healing, but I would like to find out more on this. If you have any ideas on this, I would be glad to hear them.
 
The correct use of the Sabbath day.
The issue in this passage is the correct use of what day of the week? The Jewish Sabbath was the day we call Saturday. It was the last day of the created week. The day which God set aside as one of his creation ordinances, and subsequently codified in his Law, as a day of rest and worship. Of course, it did not mean that nothing else could be done on that day. Those works that were permitted were determined by their nature, i.e., either a work of necessity or mercy. Since the resurrection of Christ, the church has observed the first day of the created week, variously referred to as; Sunday, the Lord's Day, the Christian Sabbath, as the day which is to be observed as God requires. In the past couple of centuries, views on how the day should be observed have become more divergent, to the point where many Christians now see this creation ordinance as no longer applying to God's people. God willing, in the next few months, I am going to write something for the church on this subject; when I do, I will no doubt be returning to this passage, but for now we will consider what we have before us today.
 
Speaking in general of the relationship between Jesus and the Jewish authorities, all four gospels make it clear that the right keeping of the Sabbath was a significant point of conflict between them. It was something that the Pharisees clashed with Jesus on a lot. Why? Because of the importance the Jewish rabbis placed on keeping the Sabbath. They had developed numerous, elaborate and reprehensive, laws to make sure that if you were a Jew, you would keep it. For them, the idea of a Jew not keeping the Sabbath was untenable. The fact that a rabbi would not only permit flagrant acts of Sabbath-breaking by his disciples but advocate it, could not go unchallenged. Hence, the reason for the Pharisees’ constant aggression towards Jesus on this issue.
 
V2. The disciples’ crime, according to the Pharisees.
What do the Pharisees see Jesus' disciples doing, which leads to this particular confrontation with Jesus? For some reason, Jesus is leading his disciples along a path, either between two cornfields, or through one field. Quite naturally, as they run their hands through the heads of corn, they pluck some and eat some of it. This was permitted, see Deuteronomy 23:25. Obviously, the corn grain is ripe enough to be eaten. One of the commentators I am using, to prepare this Daily Encouragement, dates it to April, a year before Jesus' death.  
 
The issue is not the plucking and eating of the corn, it's the day on which it is being done. The Pharisees see in the disciples’ action a contravention of one of their Sabbath 'fence' laws. Those laws which had been written over generations for the purpose of setting a 'fence' around God's Law, so that there was no way the Jew could even reach God's Law to break it. Of course, as I have said before, the breaking of God's Law begins in the heart long before it reaches the mind; and then the hands, feet, ears, etc. In their simple act of taking and eating a few grains of corn, the disciples probably contravened a few of these ‘fence’ laws; reaping, threshing, and winnowing, before finally being guilty of preparing food. All you had to do was reap and grind a dried fig's worth of corn to be guilty. 
 
V3,4. Jesus takes them to the Old Testament to address the issue. 
How does Jesus respond? Where does he direct them to? What was the bread of Presence which David and his men ate, 1 Samuel 21:3-6? It was the bread that had been prepared in a prescribed manner and meant for use only in the Temple. Leviticus 24:5-9. We can tend to think it was a few wafers, a couple of pieces of shortbread; actually, it was quite a lot of bread. There were twelve of these shewbreads (showbreads / Bread of Presence). Each one was made from six and a quarter pounds of flour, and each Sabbath they were set out in two rows on a gold-covered table in the Holy Place or Sanctuary of the Tabernacle, as an offering to God. When they were removed, they were to be eaten by the priests. Leviticus 24:5-9. Note, David and his men did not take the hot bread that was on the Table, i.e., that which was being offered to God.  He and his men were given the bread that had been offered to God and was now with the priests for their consumption. It is important to note that Jesus, in recounting what took place, does not attribute blame to Ahimelech, the priest, who responded to David's request. As far as Jesus was concerned, it was David who took the bread. 
 
Jesus' point is a simple one. The Pharisees would not dispute the fact that David and his men had breached the Law, something which Jesus neither condones nor excuses as he states that David did so out of hunger. However, the reason for their failure to find fault with David was not merely because he needed to eat, but primarily because his act of eating did not involve any reaping, threshing, winnowing or preparation. So, the real problem, which Jesus so adeptly places his finger on, is not the actions of his disciples; it is the fact that the Pharisees are putting the stringent observance of their rabbinical laws above what God requires in terms of the keeping of his Law. In doing so, they are missing the entire point of the Sabbath day. Had they understood it correctly, they would have encouraged acts of necessity and mercy, which are not merely permitted, but required. John 7:23ff. 
 
When a person begins to put secondary things, in any sphere of the Christian's life, walk and testimony, first, it speaks to an issue with the soul. When there is a prioritizing of something, which may be of some benefit, above that which God has commanded, then there is a problem. Especially so, when secondary matters are being used to measure whether another professing believer is a Christian or not. The moment we begin to place anything before and above what God has commanded, we are in danger of becoming like the thorough-going Pharisees, as the accusers of Jesus' disciples.
 
Another thought which J.C. Ryle focuses on is the protection Jesus afforded his disciples. He writes of how Jesus, "did not leave His disciples to fight their battle alone. He came to their rescue and spoke for them." And then he makes the point that, here we have, "a cheering illustration of the work that Jesus is ever doing on behalf of His people. There is one, we read in the Bible, who is called "the accuser of the brethren, who accuses them day and night" — even Satan, the prince of this world. (Revelation 12:10, …). But let us thank God that believers 'have an Advocate with the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous,' who is ever maintaining the cause of His people in Heaven, and continually making intercession for them.”
 
V5. The Son of Man is the lord of the Sabbath. 
Jesus ends the exchange with the Pharisees with a statement that must have rocked them back on their heels. It's a staggering claim, given the fact that the Sabbath is a creation ordinance, Genesis 2 :3, and a divine institution, Exodus 20:8-11. What is Jesus saying? That he doesn't need to keep the Sabbath? That those who are associated with him don't need to keep the Sabbath? In Matthew 5:17, in the first great sermon which he preached (incidentally, prior to this event), Jesus had made it clear that he had come not to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them. Jesus is declaring the opposite of that. Jesus lived his life under the Law, Galatians 4:4, so that he would fulfill it on our behalf. In doing so, he would 'earn', through his obedience, the righteousness that would be imputed to us. That righteousness, which along with the paying of the penalty due to us for our sin, would open the way for us to go to Heaven. Jesus observed the Law of God perfectly for the duration of his entire life, fourth commandment and all. Therefore, the idea that Jesus is giving, either those with him or himself, a pass on keeping the Sabbath holy, is clearly wide of the mark. Jesus is the lord of the Sabbath, by virtue of his living under it, his keeping of it, and his calling of us to follow him in doing likewise.

 

 

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 32A. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.

 

 

Memory Verse. 
Keep memorizing it will do your heart good.
Psalm 121C v1-3, 
1. Unto the hills I lift my longing eyes; whence comes my aid? 
The Lord's my help, the heavens and earth by him were made. 
Your foot from stumbling he will always keep; 
the One who guards your life will never sleep. 
2. He who keeps Israel slumbers not nor sleeps By night or day.
The Lord keeps you, a shade on your right hand The Lord will stay.
Throughout the day the sun will never smite,
Nor will the moon afflict you in the night
3. You will be safe, protected by the Lord, By his control.
For every evil that may come your way He'll keep your soul.
While you go daily out and in your door
 
 
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 32 - What benefits in this life are shared by those who are effectually called?
Answer - In this life, those who are effectually called share in justification, adoption and sanctification, and the further benefits in this life which accompany or flow from them.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc 
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God for Jesus’ keeping of the Sabbath day holy, which placed him in a position to impute to us his righteousness which, along with the atonement made, will see us, by God's grace, enter into Heaven. 
Thank God that he has created us to work six days, and rest and worship him on one day.
Give thanks for the privilege and blessings that come from worship and rest on the Lord’s day. 
 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley