Mercy and Not Sacrifice? #4

Monday, September 9, 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?

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, and Hebrews 4:3-11 explain how the Sabbath day (the day of God’s “rest”) was the sign of God’s earthly kingdom (God’s “rest”). Psalm 132:5,8,13,14, the words of King David, enlighten: “Until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob…. Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength…. For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”

The Sabbath-day rest reminded Israel of God’s original purpose in creation, and her role in His plan to reclaim the earth. Had Adam not sinned, God’s earthly kingdom would have been established 6,000 years ago with Adam and Eve. God created the nation Israel to do what Adam failed to do in the earth, but Israel too fell into sin, so again, God’s earthly kingdom was postponed. That earthly kingdom was in David’s mind when he sought to build the Temple, God’s house (Psalm 132 in the previous paragraph, and note how God declared, “This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”).

Unfortunately, 600 years after David, at the close of the “Old Testament” Scriptures, sinful Israel has been scattered among the nations, JEHOVAH’S glory has left the Temple, and the Temple has been utterly destroyed. For the next 400 years, God is silent toward Israel (John the Baptist’s ministry breaks that silence).

When we come to the context of today’s Scripture, we find Jesus Christ, the LORD of Psalm 132, now come to His nation Israel. The mighty JEHOVAH has now arrived in human flesh to offer Himself as their King, to usher in that kingdom whose establishment has been repeatedly interrupted by sin.

The Pharisees, blinded by their religious fervor, fail to see Jesus as “Lord of the sabbath day….”