Tuesday, December 20, 2016

He'll Take Care of the Rest

So, a foundation has been laid for our exploratory journey.  We have come to understand our identity as Israel.  We have seen the difference between Hebrew and Greek mindsets, and the impact this will have on our study of scripture.  We have accepted that Torah is still in effect, and is in fact central to our ability to draw near to YHVH.

This entry’s title is borrowed from Keith Green.  One of these days, I would love to devote an entry to sharing the impact his ministry had on my life.  But for now let it suffice to give him credit for the entry title, and explain why I chose it.  By the way, his name above is a link to his song with the same title.  Check it out!

Let’s just get this one important disclaimer out of the way:  There is absolutely no evidence, and no reason to believe, that Keith Green had my little interpretation in mind at all when he wrote and recorded “He’ll Take Care of the Rest.”  In fact, the lyrics themselves do not particularly lend themselves directly to my illustration, but please bear with me.

In Green’s song, “the rest” is essentially what is left when you have done what you can do.  He provides biblical examples to demonstrate how God miraculously “takes care of the rest” when we are obedient.  This is a powerful thing for us to remember as we fulfill the assignments YHVH gives us.  He will often take us beyond our current knowledge, skills, and abilities when we are doing his will.

My mind (being the way it is) put a little twist to the title phrase.  “Rest” – in English – besides meaning what is left over, can also mean “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.”  Soon after this song came out, in 1977, I had this thought about the idea of God taking care of “the rest.”  It relates to Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  In the promise from Yeshua, I realized that rest is a gift from the hand of the Father.

Now, the next car in this train of thought came many years later; about thirty years later, in fact.

Once I was taking a closer look at Torah, with Kingdom (Hebrew) eyes, one of the first questions that arose for me had to do with Sabbath.  I had spent many years – decades, actually – believing and teaching others that because of Jesus every day was Sabbath.  Our rest is in him.  This was one of the ways I explained how to “keep the Sabbath holy.”  I was also taught and believed that the first day of the week was Sabbath.  Furthermore, I thought that the “seventh-day Sabbath” was Jewish.

As I read Torah I came to a sudden realization.  It seemed sudden because it was seriously startling when several things came together as one revelation for me.  First of all, Sabbath was established in the beginning for all of creation.  B’reshit (Genesis) 2:3, “God blessed the seventh day and separated it as holy, because on that day God rested from all his work which he had created, so that it itself could produce.” Not a Jewish thing.  Not even just a humankind thing.  It is for the benefit of all creation, ordained by YHVH himself from the beginning.

Another thing that “dawned” on me was the place Sabbath holds in the Ten Commandments.  I will leave aside for the moment the whole lapse in logic that allows us to think on the one hand that Torah has been defeated by Jesus, while on the other hand still holding as sacred the Ten Commandments.  We will just take as granted that we all accept the Ten Commandments as being in force.  If that is the case, then the fourth commandment should almost make our heads explode.  Except for the fact that we have conveniently redefined “Sabbath” to something it is not, this commandment is quite clear.  “Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.”  I do not read any stuttering in this commandment.  YHVH established the seventh day as set apart and holy at creation.  The seventh day is what we should be keeping holy.

Of course, some people will want to debate whether the day most of the English-speaking world calls “Saturday” is, in fact, “the seventh day.”  The idea is that we cannot be certain that our reckoning has stayed true over the millennia, and it actually seems most unlikely to have done so.  Therefore, we cannot know that we are “keeping” the right day!  I can surely see the “common sense” of that argument.  Nevertheless, in our current way of counting days – all over the world – “Saturday” is the seventh day.  Also, those who have been keeping the seventh day holy for all these years are presently observing it on “Saturday.”  The alternatives are to choose another day you think is the real seventh day (how would you know?) or not to keep it holy at all.  I choose keeping it holy.

People may say that Yeshua did away with the need to keep the Sabbath.  Well, scripture is abundant in evidence that Yeshua himself kept the Sabbath, and that believers in the early church also kept the Sabbath.  Yeshua never instructed us to stop keeping the Sabbath.  If Yeshua is to be our chief example for how to live, then Sabbath-keeping should be included.

Keeping the Sabbath holy has nothing to do with when, where, or how we gather for corporate worship.  I have heard some folks disparage “Sunday worship” as if coming together for worship on Sunday morning is, in itself, somehow violating the commandment to keep Sabbath holy.  Scriptural instructions about Sabbath do not indicate anything at all about corporate worship.  Prayer, Bible study, and worship are things each of us should be doing daily in our walk with YHVH.  We can gather corporately any time.  The early believers apparently met every day for a while.

It is true that scriptural evidence shows that the Jews came to synagogue on Sabbath for Torah-reading and discussion.  Coming together on Sabbath is still common Jewish custom.  It is an appropriate time to get together.  It helps us all to remember.  There are many interpretations and opinions about what we should and should not do on Sabbath.  Biblical instruction is confined mostly to “do no ordinary work.”  Isaiah 58:13 gives a bit more definition, “If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.”  

There is, indeed, much more that can be said about Sabbath.  The point is, keeping Sabbath was one of the first truly tangible things we began to do in response to what we were learning.  We are still learning what it truly means, even though we have already learned much about it.  But I have to say, that once we began keeping Sabbath, it was as if the floodgates burst open.  Suddenly, we were gaining new insights almost faster than we could assimilate them.  That is how it happened for us, anyway.  How can I not encourage everyone to do the same?

I have come to understand at a whole new level that “He’ll Take Care of the REST.”  He ordained it from the Beginning.


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