30 August, 2006

Verse of the Month: My Donkey in a Bind

Lu 14:5
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

I will forgive anyone who thinks that I might have picked that verse just to be obtuse. Just remember, I don't have to work at all to be obtuse. It comes real natural-like.


Numbers 15
15:32 And while the
children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
15:33 And they that
found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
15:34 And they
put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
15:35 And the
LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
15:36 And all the
congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Focus on the words, "And the Lord said..."

Dude was picking up sticks! He was not hurting children, or stealing from widows, or worshipping other gods. He was going to build a fire for someone he loved.

And it was not some legalistic Pharisee who interpreted God's law so harshly. "And the Lord said..."

God had said,
Exodus 20
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
20:10 But the
seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
20:11 For in
six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

God meant it.

The sabbath was an expression of deep meaning, and deep symbolism. God would not allow His sabbath to be corrupted. The life of a man was forfeit for trying that command.

I harass the Jews for erecting hedge laws around the sabbath, for example codifying the number of miles that a man could walk on the sabbath without sinning against the day of rest. But could I have read about a man stoned until dead for picking up firewood, and not needed hedge laws? How many hedge laws did I erect even after Christ's Blood cleansed me? How far away and how frightening was God even after His Grace was shed abroad to all, even me?

The Jews learned every law, and kept them wholly.

And Jesus would have none of it.

Jesus got in their faces to heal on the sabbath. He went out of His way to do something bigger than picking up sticks before their very eyes. He violated the sabbath before them - but He did not violate God's law.

Matthew 12
And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out ?
12:12 How
much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.

It is lawful to do well, even on the sabbath.

Let me be more clear.

It is lawful to violate the sabbath to do well.

A man was picking up sticks, and he was killed on God's own command. But, Jesus declares it divinely righteous to pick up a sheep, a donkey or even an ox on the sabbath. An ox weighs a lot more than a stick. Getting an ox out of a hole can be a whole day's work, and nothing restful about it.

Yet, Jesus doesn't even blink.

The sabbath is one of the 10 commandments. It was engraved on stone. But, Jesus places acts of love for animals above it. How much more so love for people?

How far below "love" is "law?"

I don't know, but may no law ever keep me from pulling a brother out of a pit.

(Said as a brother who knows what the bottom of a pit looks like....)


Milly said...

I don't know, but may no law ever keep me from pulling a brother out of a pit.

Amen Bro

Maeghan said...

The act of gathering sticks is not sinful, we'd all agree but his presumptuousness in doing so is. It must an act God sees as wilful and defying. The laws in those days pertaining to the keeping of Sabbath is very serious indeed and any violation would warrant death.

Maybe we can equate it to this analogy: Say someone need to start a fire. He has all the fuel he needs but deliberately burn the flag of his country in view of all people. Maybe not death but he would deserve severe punishment. It is not really a good example but I think the concept is there. Compare it to Jesus' act of healing and pulling a life out of the pit on the holy Sabbath, is like using the flag or even burning just to save someone, if it is the only means of doing so, it will surely be acceptable and he could even be hailed a national hero for using the country's flag to save a life.

I think there is a difference between the times of the exodus and the times of the Pharisees. The latter already stooped to a legalistic world that only cares for the letter of the law, and not the heart of the law. But all of us, in the times of exodus, in Jesus' time and we in our time, serve the same Lord. So if Jesus can heal the sick during the Sabbath, so can all of us, the only thing that matters is our heart - is it for God.

Good stuff, codepoke.

Kansas Bob said...

I love your thinking Kevin:

I don't know, but may no law ever keep me from pulling a brother out of a pit.

Oh that we didn't still have special days ... maybe then each day would be a true sabbath where we serve the Lord by serving each other ... even if a dirty pit is involved :)

Lynne said...

Thank you so much for this. I am so tired of legalists preaching moral and theological exactitude to broken people, setting up their own bars and then condemning those who can't jump over them. When we find ourselves needing to justify being merciful to other christians who think we're being "soft", something is hideously wrong. But it is also time to turn the searchlight of grace on the self-righteous legalist hidden in our own hearts..