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Keep the Holy Things Holy

Rev. Enoch Thompson | December 30, 2023 | Nehemiah 10:31


"When the neighbouring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts. Nehemiah 10:31 (NIV)



The second commitment that the reforming Jews made was to avoid doing business on the Sabbath or other holy days as prescribed in the law of Moses. They were also going to keep the part of the Mosaic law which required that, “³For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Lev 25:3-4, (NIV). The people were to keep a weekly Sabbath on which they rested, and on which the land rested too. They were also to ensure that every seventh year the land rested for the whole year from being worked, a sabbath to the LORD.


Note that the seventy years of captivity were intended by God to give the land the rest that the Israelites had failed to give it over the years. This realization called for this resolution, so that never again will the burden of the land place a burden on their nation.


When God places a title of holiness on any event, item, or person, we do well to accord that set-apart status to that event, item, or person. As Christians, we do not keep the Sabbath as a Saturday requirement of the LORD. However, we observe the spirit of the Sabbath by setting aside time to rest from our labours so that our bodies which are the temples of the LORD will find rest. We do not set apart the seventh year and the seventieth years as was demanded of Israel, but our annual leaves and the sabbatical year, in the context of university and church ministry contexts (that seventh year that is given for such workers to travel or rest) must be honoured as an act of worship to God. Marriage is to be hallowed and honoured, life must be kept free from the love of money (Heb. 13:4-5), etc.


Christians in Corinth found themselves in sicknesses and weaknesses, and some had even died because of their lack of reverence for the Holy Communion. Ananias and Saphira were killed by the Lord because they treated their giving to the Church as a favour, they were doing God, without realising that our acts of giving to God are holy acts that must be done in sincerity, worshipfully and as acts of privilege by which we accept as holy what God has called holy. Whatever God prescribes as holy, we must celebrate as holy so that we do not incur the wrath of God.



As the year comes to a close, look back and assess how you have fared in some of the issues mentioned in the message above. Thank God where you have held Him and all that relates to Him as Holy. On the other hand, ask for forgiveness where you have not fared so well. God is merciful, and He is faithful to forgive us and give us a new start.



Dear Lord, the holy God, thank you for your word to me today, a reminder of my obligation to live respectfully before you in honouring you in all that you call holy. Please forgive me in the matters in which I have profaned your holiness by dishonouring your standards of holiness. Please give me a new strength to start afresh, to be holy and honour the holy things. I ask for this through Him who was holy through and through, Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.





DAILY word study: SABBATH In the Hebrew text, the word used is "Shabbat" (שַׁבָּת) is translated as "ceasing" or "resting, It signifies a day of complete rest, a cessation of work and worldly pursuits. This wasn't just a physical break; it was a time dedicated to God, a chance to reconnect with the divine source of creation and ourselves. The concept of Sabbath stretches back to the very beginning. In Genesis, God rested on the seventh day after creating the world, setting a pattern for humanity. It's a reminder that even the Almighty took time to pause, to appreciate His work, and to invite us to do the same. Throughout the Bible, the Sabbath is woven into the fabric of Jewish life. The Israelites were commanded to observe it in the wilderness, a tangible reminder of their dependence on God. Nehemiah's people, returning to a devastated Jerusalem, made the Sabbath a cornerstone of their rebuilding efforts, recognizing its importance for spiritual and physical restoration. In this context, the people commit not to engage in commerce on the Sabbath. This adherence is not only a religious observance but also a social and economic practice, emphasizing the importance of rest for all, including servants and animals. The observance of the Sabbath is often considered a sign of the covenant between God and His people. It serves as a reminder of God's creative and redemptive work, and by keeping the Sabbath, the community acknowledges God as the ultimate provider The commitment to refrain from business transactions on the Sabbath invites reflection on the significance of intentional rest and worship. It calls for a pause in the regular routines of life to focus on spiritual and communal aspects. Reflections: How do you currently observe a "Sabbath" in your life? Do you allow yourself time for true rest and spiritual renewal? What practical steps can you take to incorporate this powerful practice into your own journey, creating space for God and yourself in the midst of your busy world?

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