Amos 8:5 Woe to those who are saying, "When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great, and deal deceitfully with false balances,6that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and sell the refuse of the wheat?"
There are many troubling problems in the world today. Godís Word has been and still is the answer for all the problems that the world faces. Some of the problems are big, some of the problems are small, and they continue to bother us until the problem is gone.
One of the smaller problems, has to do with the numbers of the 10 commandments. They are not numbered in the Bible, and 2 traditons have sprung up, one which has 4 commandments about God and 6 about the neighbor [the reformed] and the other which has 3 commandments about God, and 7 about the neighbor, which is our tradition. Our traditon finds its roots in this scripture:
1JO 4:20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. In other words, some of our biggest problems stem from the difficulty of loving your neighbor.
In our text today, there are 2 problems which come together, loving God, and loving your neighbor. It is a picture that paints a portrait of the fallen nature of man, and the path where sin leads. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath was observed, not always because people wanted to, or appreciated the gift of rest from God, but it was observed because it was expected. To be more precise, it was observed, in that people agreed not to work, but it was not observed, in that the commandment calls for keeping the day holy, and that they did not do. The Sabbath became a mere outward observance, instead of resting and growing spiritually, men used the say to plan how to cheat, steal, and take advantage of other people. What was the plan? Well, for grain farmers, it was to sell a short measure of grain, at an inflated price. It was one thing to have a false balance scale, but if you had false weights, you could make a show of righteousness with true scale, how could they know you had false weights? And if that were not enough, then if the people were poor, sell them the grain settlings, and chaff at the same price that you charge for 1st quality grain.
There are 2 problems in this picture. 1. that such people clearly donít love their neighbor, whom they see merely as a means to enrich themselves. The moto might have been, suffer a fool gladly, after all you can charge them triple and they will thank you for it. The second problem is that these people clearly are not keeping the Sabbath holy, for the only God they worship, is the gold they seek to gather for themselves.
You see, with all the trouble in the world, and all the problems that we face, we need a day of rest - in part just for resting - but thatís just part of it, we also need the day for refreshing, a time to grow in the grace of God by growing in the Word of God. Its more than just an hour, so as to pay lip service to God, that you have worshipped him. And Sunday school, is not just for kids, we all need to be growing in the word of God, thatís why we have adult Bible class as well. Godís plan is that you begin the week with God, and then through the week, you continue to be with God, in daily prayer, and daily study of Godís Word.
Why? For exactly the same reason why God reveals that all scripture is inspired, 2TI 3:16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. God gives us his word on the one hand to show us the way of salvation, and while at the same time, God also gives us his word to train us in holy living. And when the commandment says, Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy, it reminds us that the Sabbath is not just about worshiping God, it is also about growing in holiness, and encouraging others to live holy lives, all to the glory of God.
1JO 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
1JO 3:10 By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.
1JO 3:17 But if any one has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?