The command to honor the Sabbath and to keep it holy has been on my heart for over a year now. As I was reading yesterday, God reminded me yet again about the importance of His command. Following the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem and the reestablishment of the temple service, Nehemiah returns to Jerusalem to find God’s people falling right back into sin. One of them is in regards to keeping the Sabbath Holy…(Nehemiah 13:15-22)
“At that time I saw people in Judah treading wine presses on the Sabbath. They were also bringing in stores of grain and loading them on donkeys, along with wine, grapes, and figs. All kinds of goods were being brought to Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. So I warned them against selling food on that day. 16The Tyrians living there were importing fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them on the Sabbath to the people of Judah in Jerusalem.
Note: The Jews were working and allowing goods to be brought to them on the Sabbath.
17I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them: “What is this evil you are doing —profaning the Sabbath day? 18Didn’t your ancestors do the same, so that our God brought all this disaster on us and on this city? And now you are rekindling His anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath!”
Note: The Jews were rekindling God’s anger against Israel by profaning the Sabbath.
Have we as a nation rekindled God’s anger because we are breaking the Sabbath?
19When shadows began to fall on the gates of Jerusalem just before the Sabbath, I gave orders that the gates be closed and not opened until after the Sabbath. I posted some of my men at the gates, so that no goods could enter during the Sabbath day.
Note: Nehemiah gave orders to close the gates at dusk and not open them until dawn.
This is a picture for us to close our gates to the outside world as well.
Also note these words from Marva J. Dawn in her book, Keeping the Sabbath Wholly:
20Once or twice the merchants and those who sell all kinds of goods camped outside Jerusalem, 21 but I warned them, “Why are you camping in front of the wall? If you do it again, I’ll use force against you.” After that they did not come again on the Sabbath.
Note: When people try to test our resolve to keep the Sabbath, we still need to stand strong.
22 Then I instructed the Levites to purify themselves and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, my God, and look on me with compassion in keeping with Your abundant, faithful love.” Nehemiah 13:15-22
Note: We, too, should be diligently purifying ourselves and guarding our gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy!!