Always, when we are teaching the Old Testament, if we want to apply it to the church today, what we teach must be in accord with the New Covenant Relationship God has with his people, for we are not under the Old Covenant.
We can’t teach Old Covenant theology to New Covenant people, in other words. But, a lot of what was under the Old Covenant is repeated for us under the New Covenant, so we would do well to understand that, too.
The other thing we need to understand, as students of the Word of God, is that the scriptures teach us that “ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
So, there is much we can still learn from the Old Testament that can be applied to our lives today, providing it agrees with the New Covenant. So, today I am going to share with you what I believe the Lord is teaching me from this Old Testament passage of scripture, but according to the New Covenant Relationship we now have with God, by faith in Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 17:19-23 ESV
Thus said the Lord to me: “Go and stand in the People’s Gate, by which the kings of Judah enter and by which they go out, and in all the gates of Jerusalem, and say: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.’”
First off, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are not under this Sabbath Law that the Jews were under. It is the only of the 10 commandments not repeated for us, the church, in the New Testament. For, our Sabbath rest is our salvation in Jesus Christ, our Lord (Hebrews 4:1-16) (1).
And, now we are the temple of God. God dwells in our hearts. The Holy of Holies is within us. And, now we worship God in spirit and in truth. And, we can come into God’s holy presence any time of the day or night no matter where we are, location wise. Amen!
So, today this would be like God instructing us to go where the people are gathering together – a place where presently we have a voice, which is not inside the institutional church, but it is on the internet. Right now, at least here in the West, we have the freedom to share our beliefs and our thoughts and opinions on the internet, but I know one day that will go away.
So, this would be like God instructing us to go on the internet or anywhere where people are gathered together and we have the freedom to share our beliefs. And, we are to go there to proclaim to them the Word of the Lord. And, all of us who are believers in Jesus Christ are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, so this is not specific to just a small hand-picked group of people (1 Pet. 2:9).
What Should We Say?
So, what are we to say to the people? “Take care for the sake of your lives.”
Wow! That sounds very important! And, how do we take care for the sake of our lives? We leave our sins behind us to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his will and to his ways. We surrender our lives to Jesus, and we make him Lord (King) of our hearts. We don’t carry the burden of sin anymore around with us, for now Jesus has lifted that burden for us when we enter into his rest, his Sabbath rest, which is our salvation from sin (Rom. 6:1-23).
We don’t bring that burden of sin with us into our relationships with Jesus Christ, i.e. into our Jerusalem. We leave them at the cross. For there we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
And, the works we are to NOT do in our Sabbath Rest are the works of the flesh. For, as followers of Jesus, we are now to walk (conduct our lives) in accord with the Spirit of God and not in accord with the flesh. And, the works of the flesh include false righteousness, human effort to gain God’s approval, as well as immorality, lying, cheating and stealing, etc.
But, our Sabbath Rest, i.e. our salvation, is not absent of works, but they are the works of the Spirit done in the power of the Spirit as the workmanship of God, and as designed by God for us to walk in them (Eph. 2:10; Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Co. 15:58; 2 Co. 9:8; Phil. 2:12-13).
And, we carry no burden with these works, because God carries that burden for us, for they are his works which he equips us to do (Matt. 11:28-30).
Keep the Sabbath Holy
And, then we are to keep the Sabbath holy. And, again, our Sabbath Rest is our salvation from sin, and that is what we are to keep holy by living holy lives pleasing to God in his power and strength at work within us.
We are to live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world, no longer conformed to the pattern of the world, but transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sinful lifestyles to now following our Lord in obedience to his commands (Rom. 12:1-2).
So, we don’t adopt the ways of this sinful world as our ways, or their way of thinking, or their attitudes and philosophies. But, we adopt the ways of the Lord for our lives (1 Jn. 1:5-9; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; Rom. 8:1-17).
But, our lives are given over to God for his will and purposes and to serve him with our lives. He is our Lord (owner-master) and we are now to be slaves of his righteousness, no longer enslaved to sin (Rom. 6:1-23).
Jeremiah 17:23-24, 27 ESV
“Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction. But if you listen to me, declares the Lord,” then… “But if you do not listen to me,” then…
Not everyone is listening to what the Lord is saying to his church right now. Not everyone who claims faith in Jesus Christ takes God and his word seriously. Not everyone believes that God will do what he said he would do.
For, not all of his promises are ones which people would want to receive. And, so they console themselves with the good promises of God which may not even apply to them, for they are conditional, while they ignore the ones they don’t like, and so they think they do not apply to them.
But, here is what the New Testament teaches us under the New Covenant Relationship God has with his church:
It says that if we walk according to the Spirit of God, in conduct, that we have eternal life with God. But, if we walk, in conduct, according to our flesh, we are going to die in our sins because we would not die to our sins (Lu. 9:23-26; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:16-21; Eph. 5:3-6; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
So, some things never change. God still has stipulations for who is going to receive eternal life with him and who is not. We are going to be judged by what we do, either in obedience or disobedience to our Lord, and not by what we profess with our lips. If we walk by the Spirit, we have eternal life with God, but if we walk by the flesh, we are going to die in our sins.
So, take the Word of the Lord seriously, because he means what he says.
Soldiers of Christ Arise
Lyrics by Charles Wesley, pub. 1741
Soldiers of Christ, arise, and put your armor on,
Strong in the strength which God supplies, through His Eternal Son.
Strong in the Lord of Hosts, and in His mighty power,
Who in the strength of Jesus trusts is more than conqueror.
Stand then in His great might, with all His strength endued,
But take, to arm you for the fight, the panoply of God;
That, having all things done, and all your conflicts passed,
Ye may o’ercome through Christ alone and stand entire at last.
Leave no unguarded place, no weakness of the soul;
Take every virtue, every grace, and fortify the whole.
From strength to strength go on; wrestle, and fight, and pray;
Tread all the powers of darkness down and win the well-fought day.
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