Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord , who makes you holy. – Exo. 31:13 NIV
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The Almighty God had decided to speak to Moses alone on Mount Sinai in the company of the Priests and Elders of Israel since the Israelites as a people had rejected the opportunity to hear directly form the Lord. According to them the sound of His voice was like thunder and they could not hear it – Exo. 20: 18-21. In that meeting, they he had stated the significance of erecting a Tabernacle for the sole purpose of His worship and taken time to describe to him what will be required for an acceptable Tabernacle to be built. Every minute detail was given to him and written on two tablets of stone in the hand writing of the Almighty God and the instructions included the qualifications of those that were empowered to work on the construction of the Tabernacle – Exo. 21:1-24:18.
Next was for him to be instructed on what it will take for sacrifices offered by the people to be acceptable to Him. They will need to build a Tabernacle according to the specification he gave to Moses solely for that purpose just as those to Minister not just on that Tabernacle but also those that will be involved in the construction of the Tabernacle was also specified – Exo. 25:1-31:11. Once they met this standard, they will be on that path to rendering to Him acceptable worship and sacrifices but they will need to be holy themselves for such sacrifices to be acceptable. Nothing they do could really make them holy as He is the one that will confer holiness on them. It is in this state that their sacrifices and worship will become acceptable. This He was always going to do but they had to show gratitude to Him always by observing the Sabbath day and avoid defiling it, for this conferred Grace.
In summary, they could have an acceptable Tabernacle and make the right sacrifices but still not have those sacrifices acceptable if they did not observe the divine ordinance with regards to the Sabbath. The foundation scripture for today’s Devotional specifies that they MUST observe the Sabbath as it will remain a sign between Himself and them for generations to indicate that He is the Lord that makes them Holy.
Hmmmm. So none of those acts of righteousness, spiritual or physical could make them attain the level of holiness He desires. He was the one that conferred Holiness on His people and the only way they could continue to show their gratitude to Him for this Grace that He continues to confer on them is to observe the Sabbath. This was not a choice issue neither was it the case of a specific day but a day set aside after every six days to appreciate Him for making them holy – Exo. 31:15.
On this day, the divine ordinance was for them to avoid working not just for the purpose of being able to rest like the Almighty God did on the Seventh day after Creation but a sign of gratitude to Him for making them holy despite all their acts that makes them unholy – Exo. 31:14. The significance of this is that it is this conferred grace that allows them to experience the Almighty God during their spiritual activities as they desire since as confirmed by the scriptures, it will remain impossible for them to see God without holiness – Heb. 12:14.
Non-observance of this divine ordinance was not to go unpunished. It would amount to an act of ingratitude on their part and the Almighty God would never condone such act. He made it clear that whatever soul that refuses to comply with this ordinance will by so doing be defiling the Sabbath and should be cut away from the people and be considered dead – Exo. 31:14-15. Thus such may be alive in body but to the Almighty God, such soul is no longer existing.
Likewise, Christians today who desire to worship God must observe this ordinance if they are to benefit from this special Grace given to the Israelites. They must know that they will not be able to have positive experiences associated with the worship of God if they do not attain the level of holiness expected by Him. Meanwhile no personal attempts at being righteous can make man attain the level of holiness the Almighty God desires unless He confers it on man by grace. He desires holiness in His relationship with man but He is also aware that human beings by nature will not be able to meet up with his standard for holiness hence the need to confer such on them. The Prophet Isaiah says all attempts of man to attain such level by personal acts remains filthy rags that has no appeal to a holy God – Isa. 64:6.
In addition to this spiritual filthiness due to the absence of conferred holiness is the consideration of such a soul as dead by Him. One can then understand why several Christians today live life like they are just existing and presenting the picture of a dead soul. It is not just the non-observance of the Sabbath that denies the Christian of this grace but also the defiling of the day with physical and spiritual acts that are not acceptable to Him. The Christian who desires to enjoy this grace must not only observe but must also abstain from defiling the Sabbath day just as He instructed Moses to tell the Israelites – Exo. 20:8-11. That way such will avoid being a living dead and all the acts of worship will be adequately rewarded. May God help us to live a life that will continue to honour the Sabbath day and thus make our acts of worship a rewarding one in Jesus name. Amen.