I had what I could call precious thoughts last Sabbath as I was running a hose to the barrel and turning the raw water valve on. I thought, “Should I, or shouldn’t I, be doing this today?” (The barrel was low and tends to dry out and leak if not filled, but it could have waited till the next day.) But then I thought, “No, this is nothing to me; in fact, I am enjoying it on this beautiful, peaceful morning. And I don’t have to do it! It is not servile in that I am forced or find displeasure in it. And I am free to do it.”
So I got thinking about the Sabbath again and suddenly realized that almost all of the commandments are not, “I’m telling you what to do, and you better do it!” but, “I’m telling you what shall be. This is what I am doing with you; here’s where I’m going with all this – You shall love the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods. You will not be killing or committing adultery or stealing. This is what I’m doing with you, and this is where you are going and will be.” The Law of God is the “blueprint” or “manifesto,” if you will.
So then, what about the Sabbath? It says not, “You shall…,” but, “Remember that you keep….” Why? Because the purpose of our Creator is to bring us to that fulfillment where, by nature, we want to do the right thing, and we do it, like breathing, as natural as blood coursing through our veins. And that is the rest; that is the Sabbath, and we will remember, and not forget. It is a promise, as are all the commandments.
Commandments! Aren’t those things we are told to do? Yes, but when God says, “Let there be light,” there is light. So when He says, “You shall not steal,” then it will come to pass that you shall not steal, because He has commanded it. He does not command you so much as that He commands the thing itself to come to pass! Isn’t that wonderful? He will do it and is doing it and has done it! I don’t know what to say about the one other commandment (which has no, “You shall or shall not”) that says, “Honor your father and your mother,” except that it is one with promise, and in fact, it is the only one with an explicit promise built right in.
Now see why we can’t win favor with God by keeping the commandments, or why we can’t even keep them? If they are promises, then whose promises are they? If His and not ours, then how can, or even how should, we keep them, when we are not the ones who made them? If He made the promises, then they are up to Him to keep. And why would He make such promises if we already had what He was promising, the keeping of the commandments? But He promises to give or to fulfill that which we do not have, but which is needful, in order that we may have fellowship with Him.
Because God’s commandments are promises, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to try to comply with them. It only means we can’t pretend to fulfill His commandments in our own power, which is to deny His promise, His blood, His Person, and Reality. We are subject to the tutelage of the Law, because we agree with His verdicts and ways, until the time is fulfilled. We know that as we behold His face in righteousness, we will be satisfied when we awake with His likeness.
And when He keeps His Promises, it is the fulfillment of His words:
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26 MKJV).
(“I will keep My promises to you, all Ten of them, and then you will have the reality of the Fourth!”)
When the Sabbath is finally fulfilled in us, nothing will be servile to us any longer, for that would be an impossibility. We will no longer do our own pleasure, for we will be entirely His, desiring to do only His pleasure. We will have overcome to be one with Him. That is the Sabbath and the rest of God, which the Hebrews writer exhorted, indeed admonished, us to enter into:
Hebrews 4:1-11 MKJV
(1) Therefore, a promise being left to enter into His rest, let us fear lest any of you should seem to come short of it.
(2) For also we have had the gospel preached, as well as them. But the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
(3) For we who have believed do enter into the rest, as He said, “I have sworn in My wrath that they should not enter into My rest”; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
(4) For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested the seventh day from all His works.”
(5) And in this place again, “They shall not enter into My rest.”
(6) Since then it remains that some must enter into it, and since they to whom it was first preached did not enter in because of unbelief,
(7) He again marks out a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” (after so long a time). Even as it is said, “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”
(8) For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.
(9) So then there remains a rest to the people of God.
(10) For he who has entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His.
(11) Therefore let us labor to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of unbelief.
– Victor Hafichuk (October 2, 2009)