I desire mercy, not sacrifice

Posted by admin on 31 May 2020 in Deuteronomy, Exodus, Genesis, Hosea, Leviticus, Luke, Mark, Matthew, Numbers |

Part I shows Sabbath related verses in the books of the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and Part II shows what Jesus taught about the Sabbath day (= the Sabbath).

I. Sabbath related verses written in the books of the Law in the Old Testament

God had completed His creation by the seventh day, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (1). He blessed the seventh day and made it holy.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-2)

Sabbath rest is the 4th Commandment among the Ten Commandments.

‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

12 ‘Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)

Based on Exodus 23:10-12, Sabbath rest (the 7th year and the 7th day) was particularly considered for the poor and the slaves as well as animals.

10 ‘For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unploughed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

12 ‘Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed. (Exodus 23:10–12)

Sabbath rest/celebration is a sign of ‘God’s people’ for the generation to come as a lasting covenant (for ever). The penalty to desecrate it is ‘death’.

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, 13 ‘Say to the Israelites, “You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so that you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.

14 ‘ “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it is to be put to death; those who do any work on that day must be cut off from their people. 15 For six days work is to be done, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day is to be put to death. 16 The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. 17 It will be a sign between me and the Israelites for ever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” ’

18 When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God. (Exodus 31:12–18)

It was repeatedly commanded.

21 ‘Six days you shall labour, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the ploughing season and harvest you must rest. (Exodus 34:21)

And the penalty (death) for breaking it is reconfirmed.

for six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.’ (Exodus 35:2–3)

According to Leviticus 23:1-3, sacred assembly on the Sabbath day is one of God’s appointed and anointed festivals.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.

‘ “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord. (Leviticus 23:1-3)

A man found working on the Sabbath day was stoned to death.

32 While the Israelites were in the wilderness, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.’ 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Numbers 15:32–36)

Additional offering required on the Sabbath day:

‘ “On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of one-fifth of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with olive oil. 10 This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. (Numbers 28:9–10)

Here, one-fifth of an ephah is about 3.2kg.

II. What Jesus taught about the Sabbath day

① I desire mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 12:1-14)

See Matthew 12:1-14.

At that time Jesus went through the cornfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some ears of corn and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, ‘Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.’

He answered, ‘Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread—which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. Or haven’t you read in the Law that the priests on Sabbath duty in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are innocent? I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. If you had known what these words mean, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.’

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’

11 He said to them, ‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’

13 Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. 14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. (Matthew 12:1–14)

Here Jesus pointed out that David and his companions ate the consecrated bread because they were in great hunger during the extreme difficulty after they became like vagabonds for a while. Also when the Law commands ‘Sabbath Offering’, the Law itself lets the priests ‘work’ in the temple on the Sabbath day (5). Jesus declared “Something greater than the temple is here.” (6). In Jesus who is greater than the temple, His believers (priests (1 Peter 2:9)) would be innocent for desecrating the Sabbath.

Jesus quoted “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6) to teach the point (7). And Jesus declared “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (8).

When they asked, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ (10), Jesus said to them,

‘If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? 12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ (11-12)

Jesus also said in Mark 2:27.

27 Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

② Working to Release someone from Satanic binding on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17)

See Luke 13:10-17.

10 On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, 11 and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ 13 Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

14 Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, ‘There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.’

15 The Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16 Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?’

17 When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted with all the wonderful things he was doing.

Here, Jesus pointed out their common example of untying an ox or donkey from the stall and leading it out to give it water on the Sabbath to justify releasing a woman on the Sabbath, who has kept bound to cripple for 18 long years. Therefore, we can work very hard to release someone from Satanic binding on the Sabbath.

References

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version (Anglicised Edition, 2011). (2011). (Revised and updated edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.

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