Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #2

Saturday, September 7, 2013

“But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:7,8 KJV).

What did our Lord mean in today’s Scripture?

The Sabbath day first appears in Scripture in Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Notice that creation and the Sabbath day are connected. God has just created the heavens and the earth. After six days of working, He rests—not because He is tired, but because His work is finished. From this point onward to Moses and the Law, the Bible makes no reference to man keeping the Sabbath.

Through the Mosaic Law, the LORD commanded Israel in Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Again, see how Sabbath-day observance and the creation week are related. When God instructed Israel to keep the Sabbath day, they were not to do any work (just like God ceased from His work in Genesis chapter 2): instead, on the Sabbath, Israel was to take the time to remember God’s original plan in creation and their role in it.

This background information will now help us better understand today’s Scripture….