This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
The Bible talks about the Lord's Day, and people like to say that was Sunday. But the Lord's Day spoken of in Revelation is the time when God will intervene in human affairs and SHAKE the nations and SHAKE every mountain and every island out of its place.
Greetings, friends around the world!
We are giving you an overview and the meaning of the book of Matthew—one of the most important books in the Bible. The beginning of the New Testament, it is sometimes called the "Hebrew Gospel." This Gospel talks about the way of God perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, because it spells out in detail, in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, how to pray, how to fast and how to do many things in the Christian life. Matthew is a very powerful and meaningful book.
So open your Bibles. In this segment, we are going to begin Chapter 12 of the book of Matthew.
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.
This Sabbath was not Sunday. My old Methodist grandmother used to call Sunday the Sabbath. But Sunday was not the Sabbath, is not the Sabbath, never has been the Sabbath, never will be the Sabbath. Most scholars recognize that. A Roman Catholic cardinal in the United States, many years ago, said: "You can search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you cannot find one word authorizing the observance of Sunday." His point was that his church made that change. Of course, that is true. The Bible does not speak about a Sunday Sabbath at all. Many people think it does, but it does not. The Bible talks about the Lord's Day, and people like to say that was Sunday. But the Lord's Day spoken of in Revelation is the time when God will intervene in human affairs and SHAKE the nations and SHAKE every mountain and every island out of its place.
Does He do that on Sunday? No! And in other scriptures like this, people try to jerk words out of context and try to make the Sabbath into a Sunday.
Jesus was going through the grainfields on the Sabbath—the Sabbath the Jews were keeping—Friday evening sunset to Saturday evening sunset. That's the Sabbath the Jews keep, just like Senator Lieberman, who ran for Vice President of the United States. People talked about how Senator Lieberman was observing the Sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening sunset. That, indeed, is the Sabbath the Bible talks about.
And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
They were not "working" at all—in the sense in which the Bible talks about work. They were simply getting a little snack as they went along. The disciples were hungry. Jesus kept them so busy preaching to people and talking to people and helping people that they got hungry.
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, "Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!"
The Sabbath law said nothing about what the disciples were doing. They were breaking the Pharisees' human MAN-MADE tradition. This was not breaking God's Law! The Pharisees had added 65 different "do's and don'ts" to the Sabbath, but their additions did not come from God—or from God's Word— at all! The Pharisees were condemning Him for breaking their TRADITION—not God's Law.
But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?"
It was technically for the priesthood, but God never commanded them not to EVER let anyone eat it. This was nothing like breaking the Day of Atonement—and nothing like breaking the Sabbath by working on it. It was just an ordinance of how to use the showbread.
"Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?"
In other words, God told them to do certain sacrifices on the Sabbath. That was their WORK—yet it was God's Work. There are cases when you can "work" on the Sabbath—if it is doing God's Work. And if it is just fixing a snack, it is not a big deal to God at all, one way or another.
"Yet I say to you [Jesus began to talk about the Sabbath day. He did not do away with the Sabbath. "Oh well, don't worry about it. It is all right to break it, it is done away." He said no such thing.] that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless. ["You would not have tried to condemn these men for eating a little snack when they were hungry on the Sabbath."] For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."
The Sabbath is the Lord's day—the day He is Lord of! It says that right here: He is "Lord of the Sabbath."
Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. [This was on the Sabbath.] And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?"; that they might accuse Him.
Again, this was breaking one of the Pharisees' human traditions. God said nothing about healing on the Sabbath. In God's healing, there is not a four-and-a-half hour operation with the anesthesiologist and all of the other specialists around, perhaps working on a human body and tearing the rib cage apart, or cutting and taking this and that out—God's healing is nothing like that. Jesus just said "Be healed" and they were healed. How much work is that? That was a great honor to Almighty God. We have to think about the reality of what Jesus was doing on the Sabbath. But they said He was breaking God's Law.
Then He said to them, "What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?"
These Jews had made their own laws that were very crafty. They would put all kinds of Sabbath "do's and don'ts" on men and what they could do. But if something affected their property? They wanted that money, so they would let their sheep out on the Sabbath.
"Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath." [To help a man, to heal a man.] Then He said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other.
Jesus healed that man supernaturally by the power of God. As I have shown in this series before, Jesus healed all kinds of sicknesses and all kinds of disease. He told His disciples to do the same thing.
Then the Pharisees went out…
Does it say, "The Pharisees rejoiced and they thanked God"? [Here was the Messiah, very clearly shown to be God, the Son of God, because He had healed this man.] No, they did not do that—they were jealous! They were protecting their position. And down through time, biblical and secular history show very clearly that the servants of God were persecuted most of all by people who had religious jealousy. Other religionists would persecute God's servants. The other ministers and the other religionists would always go after the true servants of God. That is the way it has always has been. That is terrible, but that is the way it is.
…and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him. But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, [He was not trying to go out and say "Let Me save you and believe in My name." He said "Be careful, don't tell people about Me."] …Isaiah the prophet, saying: "Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He will declare justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel nor cry out, [He was not to make some big public spectacle.] Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets."
Did He go up and down the streets of Jerusalem and perform great miracles? He often performed His miracles in private just to show the brethren and the people that He loved them.
"A bruised reed He will not break, [In other words, He was very gentle.] and smoking flax He will not quench, Till He sends forth justice to victory; and in His name Gentiles will trust." Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; [Here is a man filled with a demon. The demon caused him to be blind and mute—unable to see and unable to hear.] and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.
Jesus was able to heal this man so that he was able to see and hear.
And all the multitudes were amazed and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
[In other words, the prophesied Messiah—a descendent of David.] Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, "This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons."
Beelzebub is the chief demon, and Jesus was casting out the demons. The Pharisees tried to accuse Jesus of working with the Devil.
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."
That is what Abraham Lincoln said during the Civil War. "A house divided against itself, cannot stand." You have to have unity in the Church of God. You have to have unity in any organization, any kingdom or any nation—or you are in terrible trouble. You can't have two different minds running the show.
"If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?"
Whose kingdom? "How then will his [Satan the Devil's] kingdom stand?" Jesus is talking about the Devil here. Satan has a kingdom! Satan has an organized government. He has his demons out deceiving millions of people all over the world. Most people are not aware of that spirit world. They don't think about it. They don't realize that the demons are here and there—in the media, in our society—influencing people, stirring them up through violent and sexually explicit movies. They are stirring people up through the vile things coming out on television and in motion pictures and over the Internet and through these rotten computer games. They are stirring up our young people to perversion and homosexuality, bestiality and every imaginable thing. That is what is going on in our society. Many do not realize where it is coming from; well, this is where it is coming from.
"How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out?" [Apparently some of them—sincere young Jewish leaders—had cast out demons.] Therefore they shall be your judges."
They knew that only God cast out demons—not Satan.
"But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you."
That Kingdom of God—God's government—was always Jesus' message, "God's Government will be manifested right there among you," Jesus was telling them. "I cast out demons," He said, in order to show the power of God.
"Or how can one enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house."
We need to think about these things. There is a very real spirit world, and Satan the Devil is trying to twist everything around. He makes "up" into "down" and "black" into "white."
We have gone through this section about the Sabbath day, where Jesus was showing how to keep the Sabbath day. It is not wrong to heal on the Sabbath day or to pluck some ears of grain or get a snack.
We have a booklet on the Sabbath day that I would like to show you. It is called Which Day is The Christian Sabbath? If any of you would like to order that booklet, just contact us and we will send it to you. Ask for Which Day is the Christian Sabbath? This booklet really spells it out and makes it very, very plain. The Sabbath commandment is a powerful command of God Almighty—one of the Ten Commandments. This is a very POWERFUL booklet, which I think you will enjoy, as it gives facts—it gives proofs—something you need. When Satan deceives people and turns them aside, they get mixed up on that commandment—and all the commandments of God.
"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men."
These Pharisees were very close to blaspheming the Holy Spirit when they were accusing Christ of using the Devil. Their accusation is very close to it. Maybe they were doing it—He didn't say so, but He was surely showing them they were very close.
"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit [of God] will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit."
Get down, clearly, on one side or the other—obey God or just do what the Devil says. It is a lot better than a person trying to claim he is a Christian when he won't obey God's Law—when he won't follow Christ's example, but he tries to call himself a Christian. That is not right!
"Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks."
They were evil, as He showed right here. Man's attitude—his heart—causes him to say these things against Jesus Christ—trying to accuse Him of being a servant of the Devil.
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."
Think about that! Every idle word is something we will be judged for—in the day of judgment which we talked about last time.
"For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
You will be condemned by your actions, but you will also be condemned by your words. Jesus Christ said that. So let's remember that, and let's really try to be careful what we say and what we do—and let's try to emulate Jesus Christ. Learn to keep His Law and respect God's Sabbath. Learn to keep it properly, as Jesus did. Learn to impute good attitudes towards people and not condemn people when they are serving Almighty God and healing the sick, preaching the Truth and doing the Work of God. Be careful what you think. Be careful what you speak.
And if you haven't done so already, be sure to write in for our free booklet Which Day is the Christian Sabbath?. You will find it a powerful message and something you really need.
Until next time, this is Roderick Meredith for the Living Church of God.