The Pilgrimage of the Magi 

“Pilgrimage to the place of the wise is to find escape from the flame of separateness.” 

Rumi 

POWER TRUTH 

Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 

Matthew 18:18 NRSV 

 Three Kings

The biblical Magi, also known as the Three Wise Men or Three Kings, were famous foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, according to the Gospel of Matthew and Christian tradition. They appear frequently in traditional narratives of Christmas nativity festivities and are vital to Christian tradition. The Magi are only mentioned in Matthew, one of the four canonical gospels. According to Matthew, they came “from the east” to worship the “king of the Jews.” The number of Magi is never mentioned in the gospel, but most western Christian denominations have generally concluded they were three, based on the assertion that they brought three presents. The Magi are frequently twelve in Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syriac churches. Their recognition as kings in later Christian writings is most likely related to Psalm 72:11, “May all kings fall down before him.”

Traditional nativity scenes show three “Wise Men” visiting the infant Jesus in a manger on the night of his birth, accompanied by shepherds and angels, but this should be interpreted as an artistic convention that allows the two separate scenes of the Adoration of the Shepherds on the birth night and the later Adoration of the Magi to be combined for convenience.

The Three Wise Men

The Magi are popularly referred to as wise men and kings. The word magi is the plural of Latin magus, borrowed from the Greek magos, as used in the original Greek text of the Gospel of Matthew (in the plural: magoi). Greek magos is derived from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan magâunô, i.e., the religious caste Zoroaster was born into. The term refers to the Persian priestly caste of Zoroastrianism.

            As part of their faith, these priests paid special attention to the stars and established an international reputation for astrology, considered science at the time. Because of their religious activities and use of astrology, derivatives of the term Magi were used for the occult in general, giving rise to the English term magic, even though Zoroastrianism was firmly opposed to sorcery. Although the Magi are usually referred to as “kings,” there is nothing in Matthew’s story that suggests they were rulers of any kind. Early readers understood Matthew in light of these prophecies, elevating the Magi to the status of kings. By AD 500, all commentators had accepted the widely held belief that the three were monarchs.

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Passover – Commemorating the Exodus 

Remembering the Exodus

Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt and their emancipation as a nation under Moses’ leadership. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as told in the Hebrew Bible, particularly the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt. According to traditional biblical chronology, this event occurred around 1300 BCE. Passover is a spring celebration that offers the “first fruits of the barley” during the Temple’s existence in Jerusalem, the first grain to ripen and be harvested in the Land of Israel.

Passover begins on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It lasts seven days (in Israel and for Reform Jews and other progressive Jews worldwide who follow the Biblical mandate) or eight days (for Orthodox, Hasidic, and most Conservative Jews) (in the diaspora). In Judaism, a day begins at sundown and ends at nightfall the next day; hence, the first day of Passover begins after dusk on the 14th of Nisan and finishes at dusk on the 15th of Nisan. When the sunset of Nisan arrives, the traditions peculiar to Passover begin with the Passover Seder. Passover is observed in the Northern Hemisphere in spring, as the Torah prescribes: “in the month of [the] spring.” It is one of the most frequently observed Jewish festivals.

What happened then

The Bible says that God assisted the Children of Israel to escape slavery in Egypt by inflicting ten plagues on the ancient Egyptians before the Pharaoh would free his Israelite slaves; the tenth and deadliest of the plagues was the death of the Egyptian firstborn.

The Israelites were ordered to mark the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a killed spring lamb, and when the spirit of the Lord saw this, he knew to pass over the firstborn in these households, hence the holiday’s English name.

When Pharaoh freed the Israelites, it is said that they were in such a hurry that they could not wait for bread dough to rise (leaven). In commemoration, no leavened bread is eaten during Passover, which is why Passover is called the feast of unleavened bread in the Torah. Thus matzo (flat unleavened bread) is eaten during Passover and is a holiday tradition.

Passover, together with Shavuot and Sukkot, is one of the Three Trip Festivals (Shalosh Regalim), during which the entire kingdom of Judah made a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

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Literal Pilgrimages

 “We are invited to make a pilgrimage – into the heart and life of God.” 

Dallas Willard 

POWER TRUTH 

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 

John 14:6 NRSV 

As a Literary Theme

The subject of pilgrimage is talked about in many of the writings that make up the Christian Bible. It’s a complex idea that includes things like a journey, being sent away, living as a pilgrim or sojourner, and looking for a home.
The Book of Genesis, which is part of the Old Testament and comes from Judaism, tells the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden after they disobeyed God by eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This story is central to how Christians think about pilgrimage.
It turns out that the Fall of Adam and Eve had a lot of effects. Sin means that they and their descendants must live as exiles on a harsh and unfriendly planet, away from God and each other. Cain, Adam and Eve’s oldest son, kills his younger brother Abel out of jealousy when God says that Abel’s gift to God is better than his own. God sends Cain further away from his home and family as a punishment.

Old Testament Models

Several Old Testament trips had spiritual connotations. Abraham’s trip and the Exodus from Egypt highlight how crucial it is to believe and obey God.
Abraham, a significant figure in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, leaves his house to find a place God will show him. His determination to obey God makes him a “pilgrim” or “sojourner”
Israelites leave Egypt and travel through the wilderness to Canaan. They confront trials and God’s guidance.
The long trip through the desert to the Promised Land is a paradigm for the Christian’s trek from a damaged world to heaven. Over time, Jerusalem became a location to encounter God. All Israelite men had to travel to Jerusalem for Passover, Weeks, and Booths, and their families often accompanied them. Exile made travels to Jerusalem emotionally and spiritually vital.

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THE EXODUS

The Exodus Pattern 

The Exodus wasn’t the first biblical deliverance. Abram and Sarai traveled to Egypt during a famine, and the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his household for marrying Sarai. Pharaoh ordered Abram to leave when he realized Sarai was his wife, not his sister. This parallels the Ten Plagues God brought to convince Pharaoh to release the Israelites.

This exodus pattern recurs throughout the Bible, from Lot’s flight from Sodom through Jacob’s stay with Laban. God delivers Israel from Egypt in Exodus, following the patriarchs.

Exodus has several connected stages

    • The people of God have to leave their homes because of a threat.
    • The Serpent tries to hurt the Woman and her offspring.
    • Misinformation is used to fool the Serpent.
    • God’s people are enslaved.
    • God helps his people while punishing those who hurt them.
    • God saves his people by stepping in.
    • The Serpent puts the blame on the good and accuses them.
    • God makes the false gods look bad.
    • The people of God leave with what their enemies have given them.
    • God brings his people to the Holy Land.
    • A place of worship is set up.

The Exodus Journey

During the escape, God revealed his covenant identity. God reveals himself via the exodus by revealing his name at the burning bush, sending plagues upon Egypt, revealing the Law at Sinai, and delivering his people. Exodus reveals God’s character and commitment to his people.

It’s as if God stamped his signature on a blank canvas labeled ‘Exodus’ before creating a masterpiece. Exodus proves God’s authority over other gods. God beats all the Egyptian gods in every aspect of creation. God exhibits his strength from the life-giving Nile to the heavenly sun. By the time the people reach Sinai, they’ve seen God’s constancy, compassion, might, infinite reach, and majesty. The Law begins by reminding Israel of God’s exodus labor.

Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, is fundamental to Israel’s identity.

The exodus inspires prophetic hope. The migration memorial is retroactive and foreshadows a future departure. Prophets like Isaiah used the exodus to foretell a future deliverance for God’s people. The exodus was a declaration of God’s good purpose for his people—that they might serve him without fear all their lives—and each celebration of the exodus looked forward to that day.

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A Pilgrimage Requires Sacrifice

A Sacrifice

Stepping out in faith carried its risks. Abraham had to leave everything safe and comfortable about his home in Haran. At 75 years old, he had to travel thousands of miles to a land where he would be known only as a foreigner—being a pilgrim required of Abraham a sacrifice: a sacrifice of time, safety, comfort, identity, and control.  Abraham was no longer dictating his life; he surrendered power to God by choosing the pilgrim’s life. 

Action and Pilgrimage

Abraham’s faith is impressive.  It was more than just mental agreement or sentiment. He obeyed God. The intensity and level of Abraham’s faith are described in the manner of his obedience.  

First, Abraham obeyed immediately:  He responded to God’s call to leave his home in Ur, of the Chaldees.  His instant obedience stands out against those who rationalize and procrastinate out of doing what God clearly demands. 

Second, he obeyed, not knowing where he was going: He believed God would give him what was best for him. He had confidence in Jehovah’s words, which were enough for him. 

The Destination

Although he left with the firm promise of an inheritance of land, he did not immediately receive it. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob never owned the land God promised. Similarly, they all died before the promise was fulfilled. More so, the Bible indicates that the only property in Canaan that Abraham ever owned was the small parcel of land he used to bury Sarah, his wife.

Abraham seemed to have a keen sense of what made a sacred place. In an era where there were no shrines, Abraham set up his own: 

“The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring, I will give this land.” So he [Abram] built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there, he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.”

In any place where Abraham sought or had a profound experience of God, he set up a shrine and an altar. Moreover, the pilgrimage was not for him just about the destination, but he was constantly paying attention to where he experienced God on the journey. Sometimes when we travel, we forget that every moment and every place has the potential to be holy.  And so, we get so caught up in our expectations of what we will experience at our goal that we do not recognize or mark the places along the way that are equally holy. It is not popularity that makes a place holy – only the presence of God can do that. 

Throughout the rest of his life, Abraham was a wanderer. Because there was nothing else constant in his life, Abraham had to cling to his faith in God. Moreover, he was a resident alien: the world was not his home. Also, he lived detached from his permanent residence in anticipation of a better place. Just as Abraham’s faith is a prototype of what God expects of us, we are called to live as sojourners. 

 

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The Cost of Pilgrimages 

“A journey becomes a pilgrimage as we discover, day by day, that the distance traveled is less important than the experience gained.” 

Ernest Kurtz 

POWER TRUTH 

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 

John 18:36 NRSV 

 The Holy Family as Pilgrims 

Joseph and Mary, Jesus’ parents, would make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Let us look at a specific text from the Gospel of Luke that demonstrates the many costs of pilgrimage in this chapter:

So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. 

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve, they went to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem.

Jewish men were obligated to attend three feasts every year throughout the Gospels. Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were observed, albeit only Passover was strictly kept. Those who lived far from Jerusalem, particularly the poor, could not attend all feasts. On the other hand, women and children were permitted to participate in these feasts, and on Passover, everyone celebrated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Pilgrims would stay for at least two days and occasionally longer.

Counting the Cost

The first expense of pilgrimage revealed by this verse is the time commitment required to be a pilgrim. According to the Gospel of Luke, Joseph and Mary traveled yearly to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. This suggests that going on the pilgrimage was not done on the spur of the moment. Before embarking on the voyage, one must arrange and organize one’s affairs at home.

The second expense of pilgrimage mentioned by the Gospel of Luke is time, which states that once they had completed the days and returned from Jerusalem, the boy Jesus remained behind. This statement of ‘days’ implies that pilgrims had to spend at least two days in Jerusalem, staying for the night before returning home the next day. Taking more than a day off from work would have had significant financial ramifications during a time when people were surviving daily.

Travel is the third cost of pilgrimage in the Gospel of Luke. The chapter explains that after the family had completed all the things needed by the Lord’s law, they returned from Jerusalem to their hometown of Nazareth in Galilee. Even today, the drive from Nazareth to Jerusalem is 91 miles (146 kilometers). Every pilgrimage would be a round trip, which would double the distance. This was a considerable voyage that was not taken lightly, requiring a significant investment of time and resources. Pilgrimages are always associated with long treks, and Biblical expeditions were no different.

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Your Gift Closes the Gap

Your Gift Bridges the Gap

As Insiders, we must ask ourselves, “Are you closing the gap with your gift?” Or do you think like David? Do you sit around your house doing nothing, allowing yourself to be consumed by idleness?

The Gap Exists for You

You become prosperous when your gift fills a void. When you allow God to use you, God will provide for your needs. God will fill the gap in your finances as you fill the gap in God’s work.

If your gift is not in the gap, you are not eligible to transfer wealth from the wicked camp to the moral center. Your gift must fill the void. The vacancy exists for your gift because God created it for you to fill. The space was designed to accommodate your gift. And until your gift fills the gap, it will remain in the pillar of power God has placed you in.

We are currently amid a takeover. We are at the beginning of a power transfer in which wealth, which includes authority and power, is transferred to the just. There has been a takeover.

As an Insider, you were assigned to your workplace. God is telling us that we are in a season where we must take control. What is the purpose of the Insider if he refuses to join its camp when it conquers the city? What is the purpose of the Insider if all he does is stand on the sidelines and say, “I’m sure the others can handle it.” “I don’t want to go to work today.” Isn’t this precisely what David was thinking?

Make that kingdom God’s kingdom.

How does a worldly kingdom become a kingdom of our Lord? The Bible reveals the pattern. When you close the gap in the domain with your gift, you transform it into a God-given realm.

The Pharaoh had a need; Joseph had a talent. The gift filled the void. Egypt’s kingdom was transformed into God’s kingdom.

Queen Esther had a gift; King Artaxerxes had a gap. Artaxerxes’ kingdom was transformed into God’s kingdom. Darius had a flaw; Daniel had a talent. Babylon became God’s Kingdom. God created every gap that was mentioned. God’s hand was behind the kings’ dreams and the king’s desire to marry.

Do you notice a pattern? Is this what God is still doing today? What is your talent? What void must you fill? How will you fill the gap in your workplace? Think about how you can transform your business into God’s business. Moreover, how are you going to win that industry for the Lord?

Pharaoh had a vision. He is unable to interpret the dream. Joseph possessed the ability to interpret dreams. Joseph’s gifts filled the void. When we look at the word “gap,” it means “breach or bursting forth,” as in an outburst, breach, or broken wall.

When the Pharaoh could not interpret his dream, his world was shattered. The puzzle pieces were not put together. Joseph filled the void with his gift. Even during the famine, Egypt can suddenly eat, and Joseph begins to save his brethren.

Discovering Significance

God was ready to destroy the world in the book of Genesis. He begins to build the ark using Noah’s gift. The ark starts to fill the void as a haven. The ark served as a portal to a new world for the believers.

So, what is your gift, and what gap did God task you to fill? Once you determine what gap your donation will fill in one of those four quadrants, you will find significance. Not only that, but this is the time when you will be prosperous. This is when, as a person of value, wealth and power will be transferred through you. This illustrates what it is like to work for the Lord.

You must enter the arena to close the gap. The importance of being on the field cannot be overstated. When you’re a hundred miles away from the gap, you can’t use your gifts to close it. Get over there and into the center of intelligent business and politics. Go to the arena, where the culture is so vile. Enter the church where the doctrines are so perverted.

Yes, you must go over to the company that does the most unthinkable things, the ones that make you close your eyes and say, “I cannot believe they’re about to put that whole neighborhood on the street,” or the political arena where a policy promotes everything the Bible calls sin.

Allow God to position you.

Allow God to place you in a position where you can be the “Joseph,” “Nehemiah,” or “Esther” of your industry and stand in the gap. Go shoulder to shoulder with the enemy until you reach maturity and influence where your hand can be in your enemy’s neck. “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the necks of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you,” the Bible says (Genesis 49:8).

Your hand will not be able to enter your opponent’s neck until you begin to wrestle with principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places. God created the gap with you in mind to fill it. He does not require you to fill this void, but He wants to collaborate with you to bless you. In fact, God wants you to bridge the gap so that the blessings can flow through you like a pipe and bless you.

God gave you this gift to fill this void. When our gifts supply the gaps in these quadrants, we will see the redemption of cities, nations, and the land’s healing.

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Music and the “Secular” World

Secular music is an illusionary label that people created to marginalize believers with a positive thing to say about society. Do you have an opinion about anything that is happening in your world? Take this, for example, you have an idea about the world around you, and you write a song about it on contemporary music. What’s wrong with that? We know that it is possible for the people in your local church who will condemn and criticize you for singing “secular” songs.  

It is an ugly picture when members from the church are sitting around the bandstand, passing comments about how you should win the match on the field. How should you have kicked the ball? Who should you have passed the ball to? These are all commentary. 

It’s straightforward to sit on a bandstand and make comments, but it takes a phenomenal amount of courage and character to get on the field and engage the enemy face-to-face. This is why players on the court are the ones who are getting paid to play, and the spectators from the stands are the ones who pay to see the action. Do you get what we mean? 

Financial Gain vs. Influence

 It’s not about the money. It’s about making an impact. God wants us to be on the court. He wants us on the field. He wants us to be part of the action, not just the spectators who pass around measures about other people. 

We respect those who dare to influence culture through the arts. What do we do? Instead of passing comments, be involved in the lives of people you know who are making a difference in this pillar of power. We try to be the “Mordecai in the life of those people who work as Insiders. We encourage them to pursue their career in the mainstream culture because they need our support as they try to overcome the education quadrant of society.  

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Warfare and Hitting Enemy Territory

In the context of warfare, if you hit a pillar of power of the enemy, you will indeed cause them to go into a defensive mode. If you hit the mainstream, you will now meet principalities and powers. Until then, you haven’t met a principality or a power. Many of what we call principalities and powers are aches and pains.  

Paul’s message began to affect the culture. For some of you, your ministry should be in the marketplace. God designed you to influence culture, which is why you can’t eliminate your uncommon passion for art or music. God has placed this passion in your heart. Why? It’s because it is part of your assignment to enter that particular arena and begin turning a big ship.  

The sacred-secular divide has created within us a conflict. We are torn between our passion and interests and the faith we profess. I understand that we want to be faithful. But what about the innate passions and interests we have? 

The common questions we receive: “Am I allowed to make secular music?” What do we say to these people: “Brother, darkness is the absence of light. If all of us pulled out of what you call secular music, it would be even darker than it is right now.” There is no secular music if you are doing it for the Lord. The lyrics may not glorify God, but if you intend to become an Insider in that industry, go. Take courage and go.  

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Eliminating the Sacred-Secular Divide 

There is Nothing “Secular” in this World

We are making an unconscious effort to categorize two types of actions: 1) The Sacred and 2) The Secular. The sacred acts are activities that give us satisfaction and security in knowing that we are pleasing God. These sacred acts are typically described as prayer, Bible reading, singing praise and worship, volunteering in church, and attending Sunday services. These are acts that usually stem directly from faith. These acts are also viewed as having no direct relation to this world and would have no meaning unless faith shows us another world, a house that is not made with hands and is eternal in the heavens (2 Corinthians 5:1).

 On the other hand, Secular acts encompass all of life’s ordinary activities. These mundane acts include eating, sleeping, working, and tending to the earthly body’s needs. When we perform these routine tasks, we are overcome with deep frustration. We tell ourselves that a better day is coming when we won’t have to worry about world events.

Secularism is a Myth

Comparing the two types of activities is known as the sacred-secular divide. However, did you know that secularism is a myth? This schism has no basis in the New Testament.

A.W. Tozer cited the life of Jesus Christ as the perfect example of why this divide does not exist. Jesus led a unified life. He did not live a “secular” or “sacred” life. The Messiah gave his entire life to God, from birth to death on the cross. Tozer emphasized that Jesus made no distinction between the various acts he performed.

Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae stated, “We’re still stuck in the reality that everything is divided in two and that if you go too far here, you’ll get messed up. There is a sacred-secular schism that prevents us from having an impact on culture.” How should we influence the culture in which we live? How do we perceive the workplace in which we work? In the words of Jesus, “the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him” (John 8:29).

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The First and Last Stage of the Career Mandate Cycle

The Sabbath is one of the stages that make up the Career Mandate’s various stages. If there is a cycle to your professional calling, the Sabbath is the final stage of the process before you return to your workplace and begin working again. If you are currently employed or own a business, it is important to remember that the Career Mandate is not fulfilled if you do not include the Sabbath in the planning and execution process.

As an unemployed person, on the other hand, keep in mind that you must first complete your work before you can enjoy and observe the Sabbath. It may not be paid work at first, and you may be providing volunteer support for a cause or for an organization, but make use of your free time to accomplish something worthwhile. Make a positive contribution to the system. Finally, by keeping your Sabbath holy, you can return God’s glory to him.

Personal Application 

  1. Are you keeping your Sabbath holy?
  2. If you are not keeping your Sabbath holy, what are you doing on your Sabbath?
  3. Are you in a prolonged period wherein you are not working? What is the impact of this in your life?

Points to Ponder On 

  • By way of the Creation account, God was revealing to us how our professional mission must unfold over the course of time.
  • Observing the Sabbath demonstrates our dedication to the cause. It demonstrates where we place our trust.
  • God grants us the ability to be productive in the six days that we have set aside for work in order to honor him.
  • Get up and get to work. If you have to, volunteer your time.
  • The devil assigns work to idle hands in order to keep them busy. He places thoughts in the minds of those who are idle. He puts words in the mouths of those who are idle.

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Taking Your Sabbath is a Stand

Taking Your Sabbath is a Stand

The Purpose of Rest

Why does a God with omnipotence even need to rest? Was He tired? No. He was showing us something foundational. God revealed how our career mandate must unfold through the Creation account. This blog will talk about the purpose and value of rest in fulfilling our Career Mandate.  

What is He doing? God introduces Himself to us as a creative God who manifests His intentions in stages and phases. He reviews the stages, and then He rests. He has revealed to us how He steps back from the project.  

God is teaching us how resting is an essential part of creating. Stepping back for a season is vital. God has already shown us how we must “do” work from the very beginning. Taking a Sabbath from a week of work is a stand. It is a stand of your faith.  

Even when we dread work, most of us live in the office. How many of you have punched in countless overtimes? How many of you consider yourselves workaholics? Keeping the Sabbath shows for whom we are working. It shows where we put our faith.  

Trust God, Not Your Strength

When you fail to keep the Sabbath holy, when you use the Sabbath to work, it reveals that you are trusting in your abilities. Why would you work on a Sabbath? It is mostly because you are afraid to lose your job. You are worried that you will be unable to finish the tasks you can do. You are relying on yourself.  

When you rest on your Sabbath, it shows that you want to obey God at the end of the day. It proves that you are relying on God’s strength, not yours. Keeping your Sabbath day holy shows that you understand that your career will be blessed if you obey God. This is one of the reasons why we “do” work differently than the rest of the work. We take rest seriously. 

We all required the rest. God declared this commandment to Moses. This commandment pertains to our work behavior.  

 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11) 

 

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Sabbath