Today’s Old Testament chronological reading is in Genesis 43 and 44.
The Psalms/ Proverbs reading is in Psalm 43.
The New Testament reading is in Mark 3.
Hebrew root words.
Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm? To save a life, or to kill?” But they were silent. Mar 3:4
Work. Strong’s 4399, melakah: One who takes the staff in his palm (walks, goes) at the behest of his superior.
Work. Strong’s H4639, ma’aseh: Watching for thorns and thistles in whatever the hand finds to do.
Labor. Strong’s H5647 abad: Knowing what is needed by the household, thus going in and out of the door to provide it.
Toil. Strong’s H6093 itstsabown: Looking ahead at a lifelong journey to maintain the house and family.
Sabbath. Strong’s H7676 shabbath: Pressing in to home at day’s end, which marks the person as YHVH’s.
On the question of what is lawful on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were at one end of the pendulum, the end that banned every activity, whether it was work to provide income, and the maintenance of one’s occupation, or not. Yeshua was a carpenter before He was baptized. How does healing a withered hand in the synagogue provide for His income? How does it compare to planing timber, and building furniture?
On the other end of the pendulum are many modern Christians, who say that we may ignore one of the Ten Commandments since Yeshua has risen from the dead. Both positions are ignorant of key facts, and the whole counsel of Scripture.
Yeshua brought balance, excising the extreme positions from both ends. He taught the Pharisees that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. He taught His followers that not a single jot or tittle has been discarded from the Law, Mat 5:17-19, which includes Sabbath rest. Sabbath rest receives instruction in Torah 43 times, from a quick search; even the command against idolatry is mentioned 41 times for comparison.
Why is true rest, not the false rest of the Pharisees, on the seventh day – not the first day, or the most convenient day – so important to God? We saw in the last Torah portion that God taught Sabbath rest to His people through the giving of the Manna in the wilderness, even before they had come to Mount Sinai. It was the first lesson of the Ten, because He was teaching them to trust in Him and not in their own works. Thus Sabbath rest is the first teacher of the Gospel, even before Fall of Man.
Likewise, He used it to test His people, to see whether they would obey Him or not (Exo 16:4). It makes sense to human logic to obey many of the Ten Commandments. We contribute to our health, and to a peaceful society, when we decline to murder our neighbor, or to steal from our shops, or to bring a false witness against an innocent person. But how does rest on the seventh day benefit us, or society, or God? We don’t understand it logically, so we are more inclined to disregard it. But that is the warning for us. We obey God even when we cannot process it logically, because it is the right thing to do. When we do so, it marks us as one of those with the circumcised heart: Sabbath rest becomes the sign of our covenant status.
And finally, Sabbath rest is a prophetic proclamation, that we believe Messiah Yeshua is returning to reign for the seventh millennium of rest. When His people, united, declare the return of King Jesus, and not by lip service only, but by the declaration of their lives, then we arrive at the threshold of that return!
Links to previous studies.
Gen 43:1-15 Chiastic structure
Gen 43:16-34 Chiastic structure
Gen 43:24-44:17 Chiastic structure
Gen 44:1-17 Repeating patterns
Gen 44:18-34, Judah’s request
Gen 43 and 44, Judah and Benjamin, prophetic types
Psalm 42 and 43 Reverse parallelism
Training to believe and feel truth
Mark 3, A house divided
Mark 3, What is lawful on the Sabbath