THE SIMPLE SABBATH TEST
Heavenly Father, Jesus gave his all so that I could have all. Love so amazing demands my all.
Read JEREMIAH 17
“Judah’s sin is engraved with an iron tool,
inscribed with a flint point,
on the tablets of their hearts
and on the horns of their altars.
2 Even their children remember
their altars and Asherah poles[a]
beside the spreading trees
and on the high hills.
3 My mountain in the land
and your[b] wealth and all your treasures
I will give away as plunder,
together with your high places,
because of sin throughout your country.
4 Through your own fault you will lose
the inheritance I gave you.
I will enslave you to your enemies
in a land you do not know,
for you have kindled my anger,
and it will burn forever.”
5 This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
9 The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”
11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay
are those who gain riches by unjust means.
When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them,
and in the end they will prove to be fools.
12 A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning,
is the place of our sanctuary.
13 Lord, you are the hope of Israel;
all who forsake you will be put to shame.
Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord,
the spring of living water.
14 Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
save me and I will be saved,
for you are the one I praise.
15 They keep saying to me,
“Where is the word of the Lord?
Let it now be fulfilled!”
16 I have not run away from being your shepherd;
you know I have not desired the day of despair.
What passes my lips is open before you.
17 Do not be a terror to me;
you are my refuge in the day of disaster.
18 Let my persecutors be put to shame,
but keep me from shame;
let them be terrified,
but keep me from terror.
Bring on them the day of disaster;
destroy them with double destruction.
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy
19 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand at the Gate of the People,[c] through which the kings of Judah go in and out; stand also at all the other gates of Jerusalem. 20 Say to them, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and all people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem who come through these gates. 21 This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. 22 Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors. 23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline. 24 But if you are careful to obey me, declares the Lord, and bring no load through the gates of this city on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy by not doing any work on it, 25 then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this city with their officials. They and their officials will come riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by the men of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, and this city will be inhabited forever. 26 People will come from the towns of Judah and the villages around Jerusalem, from the territory of Benjamin and the western foothills, from the hill country and the Negev, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices, grain offerings and incense, and bringing thank offerings to the house of the Lord. 27 But if you do not obey me to keep the Sabbath day holy by not carrying any load as you come through the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume her fortresses.’”
- Jeremiah 17:2 That is, wooden symbols of the goddess Asherah
- Jeremiah 17:3 Or hills / 3 and the mountains of the land. / Your
- Jeremiah 17:19 Or Army
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Thank God for the challenge of his Word, both intellectual and spiritual.
It’s been a rough road that we’ve traveled with Jeremiah. There have often been dark clouds overhead and signs of the impending storm. Only occasionally have there been glimpses of blue sky. Maybe, like me, you’ve come to admire the grace and courage of the prophet, his honest attempts to convey the words God has given him, despite disdain and open opposition. Sometimes I’ve empathized with him. Today’s final day on the road gives us, first, an image that sums up the central issue (vs 5–8) and ends with a simple, practical test.
To flourish, a tree needs water. Similarly, to flourish, men and women need to trust in God. The shrub (barely worth calling a tree) in the parched land survives, but only just. The tree planted near the water source flourishes, even when conditions are hard. Jesus uses the same image,1 with the living water of the Spirit not only flowing into us but also out to others, like fruit at harvest time.2 The choice given to the kingdom of Judah is clear: where do you place your obedient trust, in yourselves or in God? Are you a flourishing fruit tree or a withered shrub?
A practical task is a reasonable way to test good intentions. So God asks the whole nation to comply with the requirements he gave regarding the Sabbath: on the one hand, to take a day off from work; on the other hand, to use the time to worship a holy God.3 It’s the simple choice that he’s given throughout these chapters: is the nation for him or against him? Sadly, we suspect what the answer will be: a failed test and the inevitable judgment that will follow.
Give yourself the Sabbath test (the Sunday test in Christian terms): Do you rest? What do you take a break from? How do you make it holy to God?
Merciful Lord, you give rest to the weary and hope to the despondent. Grant me your rest and fill me with hope as I follow you today.
1 John 4:13,14; 7:37–39 2 Gal 5:22,23 3 Exod 20:8–11
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