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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

July 31, 2015

Appearance and reality

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

In six weeks we will be keeping the Feast of Trumpets as the first of the fall Holy Days this year. Soon afterwards we will be observing the Feast of Tabernacles with our brethren. Most of us have kept God's feast days for many years, along with the weekly Sabbath. Have these days become a ritual for us?

God chastised the Israelites for just this reason:

"Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them" (Isaiah 1:13-14).

Some think that the prophet Isaiah was talking about alternate feasts that the Israelites were keeping instead of the biblical festivals. However, Isaiah's message was directed primarily to Judah and Jerusalem (verse 1) – the house of Judah. The house of Judah continued keeping the Sabbath and Holy Days after the rebellion of the ten tribes in the north of Israel. In addition, the word "Sabbath" in the Bible is never used to mean Sunday or another weekday as a day of rest and worship.

So what was the problem? Isaiah makes it pretty clear: "I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting."

The Israelites were observing the Sabbath and festivals, but they were just going through the motions. They offered sacrifices in the same way. They gave the appearance of sincere worship, but the reality in their personal lives was different – iniquity:

"When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow" (verses 15-17).

Going through the motions of obeying God by attending services on His Holy days – Sabbath and festivals – with a heart filled with envy, lust, bitterness, jealousy, etc. is hypocritical. Being a Christian is more than just attending commanded worship services. It involves our entire life, whether people see us or not.

A modern example: What good is the hunt for bread crumbs in the kitchen prior to the days of unleavened bread when one's personal collection of videos includes films from Hollywood that are full of violence and sex scenes?

When we spread out our hands to pray, God wants to hear us. He assures us of that in His word. We can do our part to ensure that He will not hide His eyes from us by making sure that appearance and reality are one and the same in our life.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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