Saturday, July 21, 2018

STICKS & STONES

Sticks & Stones

As the giant Goliath saw the youth David approach him, he said to him, ‘“Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?’ And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.’ 1 Samuel 17:43. David stood there with his staff in one hand, a sling in the other, and five smooth stones in his shepherd’s pouch. ‘Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”’ 1 Samuel 17:45.
Everyone knows that David planted a stone from his sling between the eyes of Goliath, and, having no sword of his own, he cut off Goliath’s head with Goliath’s own sword. But does everyone know that these two men represented two different and opposing kingdoms, viz, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness? You see, after the prince of darkness, the devil, had utilized a serpent to cajole Adam and Eve into sinning against God, the LORD addressed the serpent in the Garden, saying, ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”’ Genesis 3:15. Whereas Goliath was of the seed of the serpent/devil, David was of the Seed of the woman.Not long before the great Flood in Noah’s day the two seed-lines started mixing, for, ‘the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all they chose.’ Genesis 6:2. Scripture says, ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?’ 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. Belial has to do with being worthless, without profit, fit for destruction (see e.g., Deut. 13:13; Judg. 19:22; 20:13; 1 Sam. 1:16; 2:12; 10:27; 25:17, 25; 30:22 KJV). Those of the Seed of the woman were not to marry the seed of Belial. At the time of Ezra and Nehemiah those of the Seed of the woman divorced their pagan wives (Nehemiah 13:23-27; Ezra 9:10-2-44). Jesus called Judas Iscariot ‘the son of destruction’ John 17:12.
Meanwhile back to David and Goliath. We don’t have to guess which of the two seed-lines was represented by whom. The Seed that was to fatally bruise the serpent’s head (while having His heel bruised) is none other than Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:16). Therefore David’s slaying of Goliath typifies Christ’s dealing the fatal blow to the devil’s head. It was a picture of the kingdom of darkness being overcome by the kingdom of light. It was the foolishness of God overcoming the wisdom of the world! As David said to Goliath before he slew him, ‘This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword or spear; for the battle is the LORD’s, and He will give you into our hands.’ 1 Samuel 17:46-47.
Like Goliath seeing David approach, the devil must have laughed derisively when he saw Jesus, ‘the son of David,’ with a stick heading up Calvary’s hill just outside the city of David’s walls. However, it was by being nailed to that tree that ‘the stone the builders rejected’ would crush the devil’s skull at Golgotha, the place of the skull. All the powers of darkness were gathered around the Light of the World in order to try to extinguish the light on the hill. Before He died darkness covered the earth for three hours as Christ hung there. But on the third day the kingdom of darkness was beaten back forever with the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Dear Christian, it may seem that at times that all we have are a few sticks and stones to fight an enemy armed with weapons of mass destruction. But remember who you are. Like David you are a soldier in the army of the LORD of hosts. You are of the Seed of the woman. Yes, there are those of the seed of the serpent who hissed at Jesus. They will hiss at us. But fear not, the One who called them ‘a brood of vipers’ is the One who by His Spirit is with us. ‘“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.’ Zechariah 4:6b.
At the sign of triumph / Satan’s legions flee / on then Christian soldiers / on to victory! / Hell’s foundations quiver / at the shout of praise / brothers, lift your voices / loud your anthem raise. (Sabine Baring-Gould).


Monday, July 16, 2018

FLEEING SHADOWS

Fleeing Shadows

‘Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away…’ Song of Solomon 4:6a. Why do shadows turn white as sheets and flee at the mere sight of light? Open up your tent-flaps and smell the morning dew on the breath of victory, for the mouth of dawn is rejoicing in the knowledge that darkness’ head has been broken. Yes, as she pulls open the curtain, morning’s husband stretches and yawns, then flexes his muscles as he looks in the mirror of God’s creation. For, ‘He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices like a strongman to run its race.’ Psalm 19:4b-5.
‘The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings…’ Malachi 4:2b. Too bright to look at, all but one star is visible at dawn while the rest pale into invisibility. And, as I lift my eyes heavenward I feel His warm breath on my face as He clothes me with His righteousness. ‘Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.’ Revelation 12:1.I once was a shooting star, also a wandering star, lost in the blackness of the night, on course for destruction. But all my sins have disappeared in the light of His face: ‘Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace.’ Luke 1:78-79.
Bread of Life, give us our daily bread. Judas betrayed the Lord of Glory with a kiss, ‘Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately. And it was night.’ John 13:30. Why should Judas remain in chains of darkness and I should be set free? Justice and grace, both of which belong to our God ‘Who cover Yourself with light as a garment, Who stretch out the heavens as a curtain.’ Psalm 104:2. Why He chose to rescue me I do not know, but, in the words of another man who was blind from birth, ‘One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.’ John 9:25b. ‘Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God alone who is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.’ 1 Timothy 1:17.
Thanks be to God, ‘Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.’ Psalm 85:10-11. Yes, ‘THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS’ kissed the earth at His incarnation, and has left it wet with early morning dew! On my early morning walk I pass friendly faces wishing me good morning. Morning walkers are far friendlier than night stalkers! As a Christian soldier without shame I march with the song of salvation in my heart, singing as ‘When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ Job 38:7. For, the LORD has said, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes in Him will by no means be put to shame.’ 1 Peter 2:6. I cry out with the man who cried out and said with tears, ‘Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!’ Mark 9:24b.
Lord, you breathed on Your disciples and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ John 20:22b. My every breath is in Your hand. I breathe because You breathe. When my eyes close for the last time and my last breath goes upward will I be drawn into Your bosom? Your sheep hear Your voice and follow You, and of them You say, ‘I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.’ John 10:28. With David, the sweet psalmist, I say, ‘As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.’ Psalm 17:15.
As High Priest He Jesus Christ offered up Himself as the perfect sacrifice. You did not leave His soul in Sheol, nor did Your Holy One see corruption. You caused the shadows to flee by raising the Light of the World from the dead, striking the darkness with a fatal blow to the head. Now the shadows have nowhere to flee. ‘Indeed the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.’ Psalm 139:12.
Dear Christian, ‘For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is the light. Therefore He says: Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’ Ephesians 5:8-14.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

THE SPIRIT OF NEWNESS

The Spirit of Newness

‘Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.’ Isaiah 32:15. A thirsty land. A shower of God. A forest of people.
‘My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.’ Psalm 143:6b. ‘Jesus stood and cried out saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.’ John 7:37b-39a. Thirsty souls. Rivers of God. Spirit-filled people.
‘Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beasts of the field will honour Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen. This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.’ Isaiah 43:19-21. Transformed deserts. A word from God. Transformed people.‘Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.’ Ezekiel 36:25-27. Cleansed souls. Blessings from God. Obedient people.
‘John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and all were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins… And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”’ Mark 1:4,5,7. Penitent souls. Poured out water. Promised Spirit.
‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.’ Acts 10:44-48a. Souls magnifying the Lord. Promise poured out. Covenant signed and sealed.
Is your soul like a shrivelled walnut? Have you withered on the vine? Is your heart dry as dust? Is your tongue of praise sticking to the roof of your mouth? Is a guilty conscience sapping away all your strength? Then hear what Jehovah-Jesus says, ‘Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without price. Why do you spend money on what is not bread, and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear to Me, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David.’ Isaiah 55:1-3.
A desert in bloom is a picture of a land renewed and a soul restored. ‘The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.’ Psalm 23:1-3. As Peter says, ‘Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.’ 2 Peter 3:13. And John says, ‘Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold! I make all things new.”’ Revelation 21:1a, 5a. Not only does the Spirit renew the individual and cause deserts to bloom, He even renews the whole cosmos!
To join with all creation in its praise of the wonderful and gracious Creator bow the knee before Jesus Christ and call on Him. ‘For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”  Romans 10:13. ‘Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.’ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

SOMETHING WORTH REMEMBERING

Something Worth Remembering

              Perhaps one of the most difficult thing things for a Christian to remember is the grace of God. For it has been said that there is a Pharisee lurking in the dark recesses of everyone’s heart. By Pharisee we mean the tendency to think that we are made right with God through our own good works instead of Jesus Christ’s good works done on our behalf. The battle in every Christian’s heart is that of self-righteousness versus Christ’s imputed righteousness. The great freedom of conscience the Christian has is in knowing that God knows that you are a sinner – that’s why He sent the Saviour! It is in knowing that God has imputed your sin to His Son who dealt with it on the cross. Therefore to know that it was for your sin that Jesus paid the death penalty, and that it was because you couldn’t, that Jesus kept God’s Law perfectly on your behalf, is great freedom indeed! This is something worth remembering! For thus the Christian can now get on with life enjoying it to the full, for Christ, our shield, our exceedingly great reward, was pierced for our transgressions. His cross is the removal of the Damocles death-sword from above your head. The Christian need not worry if he has done enough to please God, because Christ, as his representative, already has.
              When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper at the very last Passover He didn’t say, ‘Do this in remembrance of your sin.’ He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ Yet how can we not think of our sin at the Lord’s Table, for by His sacrificial death on the cross He is ‘The Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.’ John 1:29. But why does the Christian keep on remembering his own sins when Scripture says of God, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us’? Psalm 103:12. O to be more like God in Jesus Christ!
I have been a Scottish ex-pat for over forty years. Whenever I visit Scotland I look up old friends. Why does my face often redden when we reminisce about the good old days? Am I not forgiven? Have my scarlet sins not been washed as white as snow by the shed blood of Christ? Has not my heart been sprinkled from an evil conscience? Of course they have! Though the following words always tend to come to mind, ‘What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.’ Romans 6:21.
Yes, we all have things in our lives of which, when we recall them, we are ashamed! But we should keep in mind that the Lord’s Apostle goes on to speak of our Christian freedom, ‘But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ Romans 6:22-23. A slave of sin or a slave of God? I know which I’d rather be! I will serve God out of love and gratitude for His gift of salvation to me.
Now, anytime I remember my sins I, at the same time, remember the Saviour of sinners. The self-righteous Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘“Why do You eat and drink with tax-collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”’ Luke 5:30b-32. The self-righteous see no need for Jesus! But God knows our need for Jesus, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. Everlasting life means that your death will have no adverse affect on you! It is not the penalty for your sin. Therefore it is no longer to be dreaded. Its sting of punishment has been removed. This means that your death, whenever it comes, is a stage in the process of everlasting life. That’s why the Lord’s Apostle could say, ‘For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Philippians 1:21.
Some things are worth remembering. Others are not. Therefore ‘Test all things, hold fast what is good.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Hold fast the grace of God found in Jesus Christ and ‘Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…’ Hebrews 12:1.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

READY TO BATTLE FOR PEACE



Ready To Battle For Peace

              ‘Blessed be the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.’ Psalm 144:1. Upon arrival at the Royal Military College I’m assigned a room with a roommate – hope he’s not a snorer! The mortar binding Duntroon’s bricks is a long heritage mixed with strong tradition. With clock ticking, for the next thirty-two days I will rise at 0530, shower, dress and be ready to be counted on the parade ground – hope I remember to shave! After the daily head
count it’s quick march up the hill to the officer’s mess for breakfast – the grand old Duke of York and his ten thousand men constantly springs to mind! Why does every venue have to be at the top of some hill? After breakfast we are marched off each day to practice at keeping our breakfast down during an hour and a half’s physical training. Then it’s quick march to lectures on First Aid, radio use, and sundry other things. Marches to and from lunch. There is even a march to the parade ground to learn how to march properly. ‘Left, right, left, salute to the left, salute to the right, salute to the front as the rain drips off our hat rims. Also there’s weapon’s training until we’re able to dismantle and ‘remantle’ the weapon blindfolded! Busy, busy until 2020 every day. Afterward there is homework to be done, and uniforms to be washed and ironed ready for morning. At night the mind is still too active to engage in much sleeping.‘A time of war and a time of peace.’ Ecclesiastes 3:8b. Majura Military Range in Canberra is beautiful. Lichen-covered jagged rocks growing out of the ground like graveyard headstones met us on our arrival. Live ammunition target-practice is halted as a big red kangaroo bounds through the right to left of arc of fire. Viewed through telescopic sights its rhythmic springing is poetry in motion! Lord, You have made all things well! I can hear myself breathing. I can hear my heart beat as I squeeze off my shots. ‘Good grouping, padre!’
‘When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.’ Isaiah 59:19b. With full to overflowing backpacks and waist webbing loaded with blank ammo it’s off to spend some time in among the gum trees. The breath of darkness chills our bones and blinds our eyes as part of its advance attack on our Section. With boots still on no sooner am I in my sleeping bag when I hear, ‘Stand to!’ I scramble out of my frozen cocoon with rifle in hand and stumble through canister-smoke to take up my preselected position. The darkness has a weapon in its hands. The end of its gun is in flames and gives its position away as it rushes at me like a night steam train. Just as well I am firing blank rounds, as the darkness knows it has been hit over and over. The shadow goes down. Lord, could I do this for real? The wounded darkness moans. Then it’s off and running again, weapon blazing. Danger over I was to have some shuteye before taking my turn to watch the darkness. With my nose poking out of my sleeping bag and my heart rate gradually slowing, sleep was almost on my breath. Then I hear the word, ‘Halt!’ It’s out of the sleeping bag again. But it’s just a false alarm. The intruder is a huge, but thankfully unarmed, kangaroo!
‘When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.’ Psalm 63:6. No sooner am I jammed back into my sleeping bag (boots and camouflage uniform still on!) than it’s my turn for a two-hour watch. Ah, the night constellation bears silent witness to my weary soul. ‘When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You should visit him?’ Psalm 8:3-4. I thank God that He has visited us in the Person of His Son Jesus Christ. In the quietness of the night I consider the paradox of why wars need to be fought in order to keep the peace.
‘For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.’ Ephesians 6:12. As Christians our battle is spiritual. With the binoculars of God’s written Word we are able to see what’s going on behind enemy lines. Evil must be stopped. Onward! Christian soldiers, / Marching as to war / With the Cross of Jesus / Going on before. (Sabine Baring-Gould)
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’ Revelation 21:4. Christians have a glorious future.


Sunday, July 1, 2018

GARDENS & GARDENERS

Gardens & Gardeners

As creation needs a Creator so a garden needs a gardener. ‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.’ Genesis 2:7-8. As the LORD God had cultivated the ‘dust of the ground’ to form man, so man was to image the LORD God by cultivating and guarding the garden. For it is written ‘Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.’ Genesis 2:15. The ‘big picture’? ‘So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”’ Genesis 1:27-28. Francis Nigel Lee sums up man’s commission: ‘Man was created, in order to turn the whole Earth and Universe into a garden of Eden! Psalm 8:3-6.’ The progressive written revelation of God ends with the picture of man transplanted into the garden-city, i.e., the New Jerusalem. (Rev. 21&22).
What happened during the building of the great garden-city of God? Well, the Garden of Eden needed a new gardener because the first gardener had beaten his ploughshare into a sword and his pruning hook into a spear joining the devil in his rebellion against the LORD God. Thus Adam smashed the covenant God had made with him. He broke the covenant Law by eating the forbidden fruit which was ‘pleasant to the eyes’ (Gen. 3:6.) Moses echoed this years later when he reiterated to God’s people what they had done to God, saying, ‘You had turned quickly from the way which the LORD had commanded you. Then I took the two tablets and threw them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes.’ Deuteronomy 9:16b-17. Jesus, the Law of God incarnate, was  nailed through His two hands to a tree. Thus the Seed of the woman, the fruit of her womb, the Word become flesh was broken before the eyes of the world: ‘Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God and there is no other’ Isaiah 45:22.


But our eyes are withholden from recognizing Him unless He is pleased to open them for us. ‘Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had been laid. So there they laid Jesus…’ John 19:41-42a. After rising  from the dead Jesus said to Mary Magdalene who was beside His empty tomb, ‘“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” which is to say, Teacher.’ John 20:15-16.
The earth as it were went through the four seasons as the green leaves of summer became the falling leaves of autumn with the fall of man. The long dark winter followed during which the LORD God did no small amount of pruning. But spring arrived with the resurrection of the new gardener, the sweet budding rod of Aaron, who has the name above all names written on Him He was the remnant of the remnant. He was the last Man standing. Yes, a gardener was needed to replace Adam – one who would be obedient to God’s cultural mandate, one who would perfectly keep God’s covenant with man. The replacement Gardener was obedient unto death and has therefore also paid the penalty we owed to God for our disobedience.
Adam uprooted mankind from the earth with his disobedience and as members of fallen mankind we became like so much chaff and straw, fuel for the fire prepared for the devil. But the new Adam has His feet firmly planted on earth upon which, when renewed, He shall dwell forever in the midst of His redeemed. His perfect obedience to God ensures this. By His Spirit He is working in, with, and through men – transforming them. And through them is transforming the raw materials of earth into His glorious garden-city which He will unveil on the last day. Thus the whole Earth and Universe will be turned into a Garden of Eden by the new Adam.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS

Festivals/Holidays
God had festivals and holidays for us in mind from the very beginning. When He created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, He said on the fourth day of creation week, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…”’ Genesis 1:14. The Hebrew word here for ‘seasons’ not only has to do with climate, but also includes the idea of festive gatherings, or seasonal celebration. Thus, the sun, the moon and the stars are our great calendar in the sky.
If you think that this is all a bit too ‘religious’ then keep in mind that the word ‘holiday’ comes from the Old English for holy day. Like the sun, the moon and the stars, a proper understanding of the 4th Commandment will shed light upon God’s original intention for us. The words ‘day’ and ‘holy’ should now leap out at you: ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work .... For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’ Exodus 20:8-11. To sabbath is to rest. That is what a holiday is, a rest. A sabbatical is related. Noting that some Christians get entangled in red tape trying to keep the Lord’s Day, while some jettison the Fourth to leave only Nine Commandments, and others argue about which day of the week the sabbath ought to fall on, God is telling us to rest from our usual labours for one day out of every seven. He has set it apart for us. We ought to do likewise. He has given it to us as a holy day, a holiday. As the Son of Man says, ‘The Sabbath was made for man…’ Mark 2:27.
Notice that God, after He had made the ‘calendar’, as it were ‘circled’ the Sabbath day by blessing it and setting it apart: ‘Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God … rested … from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made’ Genesis 2:1-3.
Up till the time of Jesus and the subsequent demolition of the Temple at Jerusalem there were four quarterly festivals, viz, Spring, Unleavened Bread/Passover (Matthew 26:17-20), Summer, Harvest/Pentecost (Acts 2:1), Autumn, Ingathering/Tabernacles (John 7:2), and Winter, Dedication/Lights (John 10:22). All these Old Testament festivals pointed to Jesus and ended with Him. The Temple’s destruction signified this. Jesus is where we go to meet with God, not the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus says, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’ Matthew 18:20. This of course refers to His churches dotted all over the planet.
A plethora of holy days and Christian festivals have been added to the Christian calendar over the centuries, Christmas and Easter being the two main ones. But keep in mind that God wants you to have holidays. He wants you, like Adam in the Garden, once week to put down your gardening tools and leave all your other daily labours, to rest and to meet with Him. When you are lying on a beach or skiing down a slope or whatever on vacation, remember who your holidays originally came from.