All Work and No Play…

Exodus 23:10-19

God has been amazingly good to his people since the very beginning. Didn’t make Adam and Eve, then turn loose in Garden to figure things out by themselves. Gave instructions before day was over: read Gen. 1:28-30 Can’t really imagine what they thought when heard God’s command… even though command to produce and reproduce described as blessing. Would have been easy for them to get wrong impression – that in Creation Mandate God had given them complete summary of life. Creation account doesn’t end there… Next thing we’re told is… God rested! read thru Gen. 2:3

Theme of rest, of refreshment one that keeps showing up all the way thru Bible. Not limited to this life either – Hebrews chapter 4 speaks at length of rest, explicitly promising “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God.” (Heb. 4:9) that awaits in next life. God does not expect his people to go without R & R until get to heaven. Doesn’t even think will have to wait until retirement. Sufficient rest according to God’s plan as close as Lord’s Day, the best way to begin a new week.

Sad but true, many think of what God’s word teaches about one day in seven as intrusion into time with family, opportunity for doing what didn’t have time for during week. Often heard coworkers talking about work schedule, refer to Sunday as “my day, do things I want”. Perhaps you have thought that way, too. Take look at Isaiah 58:13-14 – read. Even before had full revelation of Gospel, finished work of Christ to celebrate, God expected would be day filled with joy and exquisite delight. Be careful… promise comes with conditions: remember first whose day it is – “my holy day”, then treat as good gift from God and honor him, He and his Day will be a delight. When God is our delight, further promise of Psalm 37:4 – “He shall give you the desires of your heart”.

What do we need to know and do so we enjoy delight of Lord’s Day as God intended?

A. rest and be refreshed v.10-13

follow God’s schedule

six years, one (sabbatical) year – begins with bigger picture, basic agricultural cycle of yearly planting / harvest… more than simple regulations God giving to people

still camped at Sinai, Promised Land / Canaan not even on horizon, yet God talking as though already there – iow, his guarantee would bring them all the way there

six days, one (sabbath) day – narrows focus down to weekly, expects his people to devote 6 days to work – productive labor whether for employer or self

keep God’s priorities

the poor – we think allowing land to lie fallow for benefit of soil, opportunity to replace nutrients taken up by crops… not what God had in view

reinforcing idea at most basic level of love for neighbor – added to by requirement to leave some behind each harvest for gleaners… remember Ruth and Boaz

fields might not have been purposely tilled but would have been good crop of “volunteers” during fallow year, besides grapes and olives

the beasts – more evidence God cares for all of his creatures, expects his people to be good stewards of whole creation

the laborers – as God prospers, must not forget to be generous… no group of individuals exempted from enjoying day of rest

yes, are those engaged in works of necessity… yet they should not have to work every Lord’s Day – need their turn for R&R

experience God’s blessings

sow and gather – when follow God’s schedule and priorities, he blesses w/fertility – sowing not in vain, will be produce to gather

crops produced will be sufficient to meet all needs: farmer and his family, laborers, poor, strangers… God will ensure that

rest – following pattern God established at Creation: God worked 6 days, God rested the seventh… his rest not one of inactivity

God rested from “customary productive” activity of previous 6, expects us to do same; other “works” God didn’t rest from

refreshed = take a breath; LXX, ἀναψύχω, cool off, catch your breath – too many people, too many of God’s people too busy

are not biological machines, designed to run non-stop with only periodic maintenance – one day in seven God’s gracious gift

respond with loyal worship

careful to obey – must be as diligent to work well 6 days as we are to rest on seventh – neglecting either will turn out badly

attitude should be one of loving gratitude – because can work, God blesses our work, have gift of rest day, God blesses that day to us also… will serve his good purpose for us

quick to praise – worship ought to be first priority, is bi-directional: we praise God, he rests / refreshes / restores his people

reminder – cannot expect God to provide promised blessings to us unless we do our part… depending on him for all things

watch your focus – don’t even think about giving credit to someone else… remember whose day it is, what he has just promised

same goes for rest of attention for rest of day – looking for opportunities to praise God, grow in knowledge of him

B. enjoy the fruit of your labors v.14-17

keep the Feast

celebrate a holiday – not just a Baptist thing for food to be significant element of fellowship… God started it, makes a good thing

people of God should be known for joy – sure, much wrong with world and it troubles us; yet God gives daily cause for joyful celebration

anticipation – Passover – similar significance as Lord’s Table, serious time, deliverance always sufficient reason for celebrating

first harvest – Pentecost – God has kept promise, seed has produced firstfruits / early harvest… indication of what will follow

final harvest – Tabernacles – certainly time for joyful thanksgiving, plentiful harvest that God makes sufficient until next season

none shall appear empty-handed

don’t come without something – for ancient people, meant bringing particular kinds of sacrifice… but notice no amount specified – expectation is simply not to come empty-handed

two things to remember: Heb. 13:15 reminds us to “offer the sacrifice of praise ot God, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks”

when we put God first, can count on him to meet our needs as we trust him, more in a minute

don’t worry, you’ll have something – God doesn’t require his people to do the impossible, he makes it possible for his people to please him, meet his expectations (imperfectly)

don’t come alone – stated requirement for males to appear, travel to central place of worship for three annual feasts

know from later history was a family affair – Samuel’s parents to Shiloh; Jesus and his family to Jerusalem

gather the fruit

will be firstfruits – certainly times later on when wasn’t much if any harvest… were reasons for that, like serious disobedience

typical pattern: they plant, God sends rain, makes things grow, fruit begins to be fully ripe… time for celebration and thanksgiving offerings – God has indeed blessed their labor

will be harvest – like firstfruits, God declares as given there would be reward for labor to gather – could plant / tend expectantly

will be enough – would not be simply enough to call it a harvest, God would supply enough to meet their needs… more besides

remember every seventh year, harvest previous six years enough to carry through all of seventh and following year until harvest… including enough seed to plant… plus food for celebrating Feasts too

C. the first of the firstfruits are the Lord’s v.18-19

the right way

still emphasis on holiness – significant part of blood sacrifice: reminder to people of need for forgiveness, cleansing from sin

also factor in reminder that God establishes rules of engagement – people approach God on his terms, not their own

leaven = corruption = reminder of sin – they could eradicate leaven from homes, were unable to eradicate sin from self or life

hence close connection with sacrifice: keeps us humble to know are limits to what we can do for ourselves, how much we depend on God to do for us

eat hearty – like Passover meal, were expected to clean their plates – no leftovers, sharing ok but nothing kept for following day

whether we get it or not, simply following God’s instructions bring blessing – he honors obedience from loving hearts when falls short of perfection… which it always does

the first

is God who made seed produce – just like growing things, is God who blesses or hinders our labors to produce… work accomplishing our purpose not a given

has supplied the first, will supply the rest – giving back the first should be natural response of gratitude, not expecting God to manage with leftovers… cuz most of time there aren’t any

will supply enough – shows we understand principle that God will meet our need and we trust him to do so… in his own way

James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights”

the best

God is the best, deserves the best – “Q. 1. Who is the first and best of beings? A. God is the first and best of beings. Keach’s Catechism

God is good, will not withhold good – think about what he has already done… “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Rom. 8:32

for that reason alone should want to give everything back to God – often turns out the more we give to God, more he entrusts to us… because are using it well for his glory

will be adequate good seed – farmer often saves seed from first, biggest, best… so next year’s crop will be better – can safely give it to God, trust him for next year’s crop

“Ryken says, The three major Old Testament feasts were rich in their teaching about salvation. Jesus Christ is the Savior God always planned to send; so already in the Old Testament he gave his people experiences that would help them (and us) understand the meaning of their salvation. Jesus is the source of our sanctification, the firstfruits of our resurrection, the Lord of the harvest, the water of life, and the sacrifice for our sin. This is the gospel according to Moses, as recorded in Exodus 23. (Exodus, 761)”

One final thought – is “the living God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” 1 Tim. 6:17NET Let’s intentionally enjoy all God’s good gifts starting with Day he has set aside for our rest and refreshment.

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