“In those days I saw men in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day.”
The third gaping spiritual hole Nehemiah was forced to address was the desecration of the Sabbath. The Sabbath was a day set aside by God to be Holy unto Him. It was a day to gather and worship the Lord; a day to rest from the work of their hands and acknowledge the creator of the universe. It was a sign of God’s covenant relationship with His people.
However, the Israelites slowly began to allow their business interests and desires for the things of this world to ebb away at their obedience to God’s Word regarding the Sabbath. Nehemiah, once again, rebuked God’s people for their blatant disobedience:
I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this wicked thing you are doing –desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your forefathers do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity upon us and upon this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath.”
Nehemiah went as far as to lock the doors of the city and posted guards at the gates to protect the sanctity of God’s Holy day.
Unfortunately, this has become a similar breach in many of our churches today. God’s Sabbath day is being desecrated. It is a day that is Holy to God. Yet, many do not treat it that way. Holy means set apart. It is the day that we are to set apart to gather corporately (Lev. 23) and worship God. It is not a day for us to pursue our own interests and do as we please:
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as your please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord.”
Observing the Sabbath benefits those who keep it both physically and spiritually, however, regardless of how much it may benefit us, the Sabbath certainly isn’t about us. It is about Him! It is holy to Him! Likewise, it should be holy to us.
The Sabbath, of all days, should not be the day we sacrifice in order to fulfill our own interests and desires; regardless of how noble we perceive our reasons to be. It should be held in highest honor as a sign of our covenant relationship with God. Like Nehemiah, we should work hard to protect it, because it is holy!
Pastor Scott Burr