Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hebrews 4: Another Sabbath in the Synagogue - Of Sabbath Rest, and Sacrifice

Today is another Sabbath. As I enter the hall and take my seat with the other men, I see with delight that the gifted Moreh who preached to us has returned. We sing Psalm 95 - "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" - say the Shemah, hear our rabbi read from the sacred scrolls, and then settle in for another sermon.

He is talking about the Sabbath, and Sabbath rest. He is saying that God rested from his labors on the seventh day, and so must we, and my tired body says "amen!" The workingman next to me is snoring again, now that is really showing off, he is restinger-than-thou.

But seriously this rest of which he speaks is not a Sabbath nap. He talks of the rest Joshua brought Israel, every man neath his vine and fig tree living in peace and unafraid of the Midianites and Philistines. But even that is not the ultimate rest of God, just a foreshadowing; no, the real rest of God comes when we stop striving to please Him and accept than through Yeshua God is pleased with us because of His sacrifice. Yet this rest I do not just fall into out of exhaustion, like my friend the workingman. Getting there demands "every effort" the Moreh says, and I think my part is choosing to yield to the Word of God.

As I listen with a softened heart, like a knife through warm butter His word penetrates deep, deep into my thoughts and attitudes, nothing hidden. By grace my flesh is not frozen, clenched in resistance, stiffnecked, unyielding to the knife. Like a skilled Levite butcher in the Temple, the Word cuts through the sacrifice's joints and marrow, exposing the meat, which can then be offered on the altar of sacrifice and service of our faith. What comfort to know that the high priest who supervises this holy sacrifice of me is able to sympathize with my weaknesses, because He himself has been tempted to hardness, to withdraw from the sacrificial knife. But he did not withdraw. He Himself is the sacrifice. As always, Jesus leads the way.

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