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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

December 4, 2015

The commanded assembly

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

One important aspect of God's Sabbath commandment is the special "holy convocation" God provides for His people. Leviticus 23:3 says, "Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings."

A convocation is an assembly called together by authority. It is not like a group get-together, a club meeting or some social event. People are summoned to a convocation much in the way a summons is issued to a court of law. A summons is not an invitation, it is an order from the authorities. The fact that this is a "holy" convocation shows that the authority doing the summoning is God. God would certainly want us to eagerly assemble before Him and with His other children, but whether we're eager or not, He summons us to appear. Other scriptures show us we should not attend when we are ill with some potentially communicable disease, and acknowledge that once in a great while, there may be an "ox in the ditch" situation that prevents our attendance.

In years past, many made considerable sacrifices to be able to attend Sabbath services regularly. At times we may have been overzealous in our efforts. There may have been times when we could have been more balanced in our approach. But have we now gone to the other extreme where seemingly trivial matters may cause us to ignore God's summons?

It seems that some routinely skip services because "I worked so hard this week, I was just too tired to come." Other times events make it so it isn't convenient to come to services. We're not talking about sudden, unexpected, uncontrollable events or important family occasions beyond our control. However, there are many other matters we could anticipate and plan for or cut short. If we fail to do so, are we really remembering the Sabbath day to keep it holy in the way God intended?

There is no substitute for weekly Sabbath services. Although beneficial, listening to a sermon on some other day is not the same. God has blessed and hallowed the Sabbath day in a spiritual way, not like any other day. The strength we derive from fellowshipping with God's people cannot be duplicated by some other activity. God blesses us with that opportunity only once each week. If we fail to anticipate and plan in such a way that we can take advantage of that opportunity when it comes, then we are not remembering the Sabbath day in the way God intends.

Remember the encouragement to gather in worship and fellowship recorded in Hebrews 10:24-25: "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

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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