Marshall J. Grosboll
Everyone needs someone who cares for him or her. Everyone needs a personal friend. Little children need friends and grownups need friends. But often when we need a friend the most there is no one to fill the void.
Sometimes those who we thought were friends reject us. Often our truest friends disappoint us, and our closest loved ones do not understand us.
In the heart of every person there are forebodings which the tongue cannot utter. There are feelings which cannot be put into words or expressed to even our closest acquaintances. Most people have experiences locked within their hearts which no one truly knows. There are experiences of guilt that no one shares. There are uncertainties and perplexities that no one comprehends. There are critical times of loss — divorce, death, or rejection, when we need arms around us that are not there.
And so there is a longing within the heart of every one for some true friend who can lighten the burden — someone who will not make light of us, but who has shared the same trials. We long for someone to listen to us with interest, someone to walk by our side. When we do not find such a one, the human heart grows discouraged and despondent.
One of the main reasons for marriages is to satisfy this heart longing. And yet, too often, two people who have been lonely and empty inside marry each other hoping to find the fulfillment they crave, only to find out that two lonely people may simply make twice as much loneliness. Generally, in this day and age of selfishness, marriage simply increases the loneliness. People go to parties, crowds and places of entertainment, and there enter into conversation with other people — they laugh and joke and act as if they are having a good time, but that doesn’t solve the loneliness either. The loneliest place in the world is often in the midst of a crowd. The loneliest people in the world are those who are trying to cover up their loneliness with laughter. Even church, where the heart is supposed to be comforted and satisfied, too often proves a disappointment.
A STRANGE SOLUTION
There is a solution for the lonely heart, and it is Jesus. “Oh!” cries a chorus of voices, “The same trite answer! He is supposed to be the solution for everything, but it doesn’t work!” If Christ is the answer, why do Christians experience loneliness and heartache just like the world? Why does church seem so empty? Why do Christian homes break up? Why do Christian young people get so desperate for friendship that they marry those who are not converted or suited?
The answer is that most Christians are Christians in name only and do not believe the solution for heartache and loneliness that Jesus offers. It is, in fact, an unbelievable solution even the Christian finds it hard to believe. This solution is like the one God gave to the Children of Israel when they were bitten by poisonous snakes. “The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us. ‘ So Moses prayed” (Numbers 21: 6- 7. Bible texts are from the NKJV). God heard Moses’ prayer and gave them a solution to their problem — but what a strange solution it was! It was so strange that many were not willing to even try it. “So the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live’ ” (Numbers 21: 8).
How ridiculous! The people were dying and in need of immediate help, and Moses told them to look at a replica of the vipers that had bitten them. The people were lying in pain on their comfortable beds in their tents, and Moses wanted them to get up and look at his contraption of a serpent — what a solution!
It must be remembered that Israel numbered well over a million people. If one were to put a serpent on a pole in the middle of Denver, Colorado, which does not have nearly that many people, it would not be possible to simply go out one’s door to see a bronze serpent set up in the middle of town — one would have to travel to where it was. And so some of the Children of Israel may have had to travel two or three miles, from the edge of the encampment to the sanctuary, to get a glimpse of the serpent. That was a great deal of painful, exhausting work for a dying man or woman. Many had to be carried on litters — and that was work for the family and neighbors — and all for something so ridiculous! “Some would not believe that merely gazing upon that metallic image would heal them; these perished in their unbelief ” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 430).
A STRANGER SOLUTION
But even stranger than the solution for poisonous snakes, and therefore even less believed and tried, is God’s solution for friendship.
The Bible gives a graphic example of someone who needed a true friend. It picks the loneliest situation in the world — the person who is lonely in marriage. Suppose one is very lonely in marriage and then meets someone who she believes understands and cares for her much better than her husband — in fact, for the first time in her life she has found a real, true friend — one she can share everything with and who understands her perfectly. This scenario, of course, is not uncommon and happens every day. What then is the solution to this loneliness of a bad marriage which is only deepened by the acquaintance of a “true” friend who really cares? The Bible gives both the wrong solution and the right one.
“Do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. . . . So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Romans 7: 1- 3).
Divorce and remarriage are the wrong solution, for that is breaking the express commandment of God. We can never hope to find happiness, peace or true friendship by rebelling from God. This solution does not work. But there is an implied solution even within the prohibition: “If, while her husband lives, she marries another man. . . .” So if her husband should die, then she could marry her “true” friend with God’s blessing and finally find that bliss she has always dreamed about. So the true solution is death of one of the partners.
“No,” you say, “That cannot be! murder is even worse than divorce.” Certainly it is. And yet that is the solution Paul presents. But the solution gets even stranger yet — we are to kill not our partner, but ourselves. Many people have, in fact, been so lonely that they have committed suicide, but suicide is condemned in the Bible also. The solution is to die without committing suicide. “Therefore, my brethren, YOU have become dead . . . that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God” (Romans 7: 4).
The one caught in a bad and lonely marriage must die. What a solution! In fact, this solution is so strange that very few people are willing to try it —it doesn’t make sense. If the other partner died, that might provide a solution, but must I die in order to find a solution from my loneliness? Surely there must be a better way than that. And yet it is the only way presented in the Bible. There is no other solution to one’s personal and emotional needs.
THE ONLY SOLUTION IN THE BIBLE
Jesus said: “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” A cross is a way of death — a painful death at that. The next verse says: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10: 38- 39).
The Bible’s ways seem backward: If you save your life you will lose it. Only if you die can you live. Strange as it may seem, that is Bible science. “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it’ ” (Matthew 16: 24- 25).
How can one find life by dying? Only through the resurrecting power of God. The nonChristian cannot understand this miracle. But the Christian finds a fulfilling life through death by faith in God’s power to raise him from the dead. Thus, as Paul would say, if a married woman dies, she is freed from her lawful husband, and then if Christ raises her from the dead to a new life, she can marry her new husband, who is Christ. But it is the ultimate in faith to submit to death, as Isaac did on Mount Moriah when his father was divinely instructed to kill him as a sacrifice, believing that Christ would raise him up again (Genesis 22). When Christ raises us up from the dead, He forms a lasting and intimate friendship with us that will never bring disappointment.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6: 3- 8).
Those who have died have been freed from sin. A dead person cannot steal. A dead person cannot lie. A dead person cannot covet. A dead person cannot feel sorry for himself. And so we are to die to self. We are to crucify self, so that it is not alive to covet and pity oneself anymore. We must give up that precious “self” that we have always tried to protect, defend, pity, and exalt. In giving up self we are really fulfilled.
How foolish that seems! It is as foolish as looking at a serpent in order to be healed from a serpent’s bite. How can you find fulfillment by giving up that which is supposed to bring you fulfillment? God’s way seems backwards. The Bible says, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom” (Luke 6: 38). In the world we get by keeping, but Christ said we get by giving! The Bible says that in honoring others you will bring honor to yourself, in giving away what you have you will receive an increase, in dying you will live. It is all backward according to the world. Only the Christian can understand these strange solutions.
“For the message of the cross [dying in order to live] is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. ‘ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? . . . Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1: 18- 25).
Christ’s way is utter foolishness with the world. How does one find happiness by giving up happiness? How does one find fulfillment by giving up his own needs?
Peter once asked Jesus: “We have left everything and followed you, therefore what will we have?” Jesus answered: “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10: 29- 31). Jesus said that we would receive a hundredfold return, even in this life, plus everlasting life hereafter. Thus, those who have made self last will become first. Those who have given up self the most will receive the most. Those who have retained the most of self will receive the least.
It is only through death that one can find happiness, fulfillment, or friendship. Jesus said: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12: 24- 25).
When Jesus foretold His death to His disciples, they wondered how He was going to establish His kingdom if He was going to die. Jesus told them that it was only through death that His kingdom could be established, for it is only through death that life is produced. Jesus illustrated it by a grain of wheat. As long as the grain of wheat remains dry and intact, it remains alone and lonely. It may be preserved for a hundred years in that secure state, but it will always be alone. But if it is put into the ground, it will get wet and split apart and be apparently destroyed, but out of that death will spring forth a new life that will produce a hundred grains of wheat that are a part of the parent stalk. No longer is the wheat alone or lonely, but now it has a hundred companions that are a part of itself.
THE DISCIPLES LEARN THE LESSON
Like all of us, the disciples had to learn this hard lesson that in giving up self we gain life, and in dying we find happiness and fulfillment. After a day of teaching they took Jesus across Galilee in a boat. Jesus was fast asleep when a storm arose threatening to capsize their boat. “But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? ’” (Mark 4: 37- 38).
Jesus had been up the night before praying, and then had taught and healed throughout the day, and being very tired, He slept while the disciples guided the boat. Suddenly a great windstorm arose, and the disciples instinctively began to try to save themselves. Their first and natural thought was not to save Jesus — they forgot all about Him. They were trying to save “self.” They did not say: “We must save Jesus; let us row hard.” They tried with all their might to save self, but they found themselves powerless against the terrible storm. Finally, when all else failed, they remembered Jesus. And what did they say? “Teacher, do You not care that WE are perishing?” They weren’t concerned about Jesus perishing. They were only concerned about themselves. They said: “We are perishing and You don’t care.” They didn’t’t consider that Jesus was perishing and they didn’t’t care. Jesus was the one who was asleep — He could have been washed overboard.
“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still! ‘ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? ’” (Mark 4: 40). That was an important question: “WHY were you so fearful?” Was it because you were concerned about Me dying? No. It was because you were concerned about yourselves. Self was not yet dead. And in trying to preserve self they almost lost it. “How is it,” He said, “that you have no faith?” Faith is the opposite of selfishness, but they were thinking only of self. Thus they had no faith. If they had been thinking about Jesus’ safety as soon as the storm arose, they never would have gotten into the predicament of almost drowning, for Jesus would have calmed the waters immediately.
Aren’t we all as primarily interested in the preservation of self as the disciples were? We are interested in the preservation of our happiness, in people being friendly to us and understanding us. “No one understands me!” we say. We are not nearly so concerned that we may not understand someone else. We are not nearly so concerned about the preservation of others and their happiness. But as long as “WE” are searching for happiness for ourselves, we will never find it. As long as “WE” are seeking to be understood, we will never find understanding. As long as
“WE” are looking for friends, we will never find them. As long as the disciples were trying to save themselves, they were perishing. But when they turned to Jesus, they found salvation.
It is in seeking the happiness of others that we ourselves are blessed. “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18: 24, KJV). We don’t find true friends by trying to get friends, but by trying to be friends.
This is the basic principle of all Christianity, whether it be friends, happiness, money, fulfillment, life, or even righteousness itself. It is by giving up what we have that we get what we are looking for.
GIVING UP OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS
The religious leaders in the New Testament tried hard to be righteous. They would do anything to be righteous. They made rules and regulations and offered long prayers in order to find righteousness for themselves. They had tedious religious ceremonies, all for the purpose of making themselves righteous. But the more they tried to find righteousness for themselves, the more unrighteous they became until they were filled with so much hate that they crucified Jesus. “We are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64: 6). The Pharisees tried hard to find righteousness for themselves, but all their righteousness seeking proved futile — the more they tried to get the less they had. It is when we quit trying to seek righteousness for ourselves, and start trying to bring glory and righteousness to the Lord, that we too find righteousness ourselves.
The question of our life should not be, “What can I do that I might be righteous?” but “What can I do that I might bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ?” “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10: 31). We are not to eat and drink for our righteousness, but for the glory of God.
God’s glory was Joseph’s concern as a slave in Egypt. He was tempted to commit adultery by the wife of his master.
Day after day she allured him. He was a slave in a strange country. There were no church members around to be concerned about. He would not be disfellowshiped for a wrong act there. He was in the midst of people who knew not God.
Day after day she coaxed him. She wore her best perfume and most seductive clothing. She flattered him, admired him, praised him, and flirted with him. One day they were in the house alone and she had prepared for this occasion. “Now it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me.” But he refused. . . . So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me. ‘ (Genesis 39: 7- 12). If Joseph had been concerned only about his own righteousness, he would certainly have fallen. Not only was the overpowering temptation of lust in the very air he breathed, not only was Satan playing upon his very senses and emotions seeking to excite them to their highest pitch, but he knew that in all likelihood death would be the result of resisting — for he was only a slave.
But Joseph found strength because he was not trying to preserve His own integrity, but the Lord’s. Thus he said: “How. . . can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39: 9). His concern was not for himself, but for his Lord. He was not so much concerned about his own righteousness, but the Lord’s. He was not so much concerned about his own honor, but the Lord’s. God said: ‘’Those who honor Me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2: 30).
That is the way Jesus lived. He did not live to glorify Himself, but to bring glory to His Father, and He trusted His Father to bring to Him the glory He wanted Him to have. He said: “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (John 17: 4, 5). The Son glorified the Father, and the Father glorified the Son. That is the relationship God wants to have with us also. Jesus said: “If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor” (John 12: 26). In honoring God, we are honored. In honoring self, we are dishonored.
CONSIDER THE LILIES
“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his gory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, 0 you of little faith? And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12: 27- 32).
The lilies do not work for self, yet the Father takes care of them. Will He not much more take care of us, if we make Him first in our consideration? The world seeks after its own food and its own raiment and its own happiness and preservation. But God knows that we need all these things. Let us seek after His glory and His kingdom first, and God will add these things unto us. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, and treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luke 12: 32- 34).
There is someone who can take care of us much better than we can take care of ourselves. But as long as our primary concern is in taking care of ourselves, He will let us do it alone, to our own disappointment.
There is One who cares for us very much, but He cannot always show us His care because we are doing everything for ourselves. There is someone who can bring us happiness such as no other person can, but if we are seeking to find happiness for ourselves, He cannot do for us what He would like to do. That’s what it means to have a submissive spirit.
“He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107: 9). Millions are seeking for happiness, but each one fails. Only our Maker can fulfill our deepest longings. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. . . . The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground” (Psalm 147: 3- 6). The one whom God helps is the one who is humble, the one who has died to self.
HEALING THE LONELINESS OF A REJECTED BRIDE
The Bible gives such graphic illustrations to help us understand the way of happiness. In Isaiah, the Lord talks about a young woman who was involved in a most unfortunate manage.
In the East, parents often chose the spouse for a young man or woman. When I was pastoring in metropolitan Washington D. C., a young mother from India told me her sad story. Her parents had arranged her marriage to a young man she had never met. His parents had done the same. Sometimes these marriages work successfully, but in this case neither seemed matched for the other, and he did not love her. They were united, against their consent, but they did not love each other. Then he moved with her to America. Often he did not come home until one or two o’clock in the morning, because he would rather spend his evenings in a bar than to come home. She lived in a little apartment, with little furniture and no air- conditioning, and the summers were hot. She was lonely, a stranger in a strange country, and her heart was breaking.
The Bible talks about a similar, most unfortunate bride. “For the Lord has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife when you were refused, says your God” (Isaiah 54: 6). God says your loneliness may be like that of a young bride who has been taken away from her family and abused and refused on her wedding night, being left despised and rejected by her husband and without her natural family. Now she is destined to live out a life of loneliness, without children of her own and without any love from her husband.
But the Lord has promised to comfort one’s loneliness even if it is as great as that. “Sing, 0 barren, you who have not borne! (But Lord, how can I sing? I am so broken- hearted!) Break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who have not travailed with child! For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married woman, says the Lord.” It could very well be that the childless woman will be given more children after the resurrection, from among the toddlers who have no parents in heaven, than the woman who has had children on this earth. God has promised to satisfy the longings of every soul who puts Jesus first. There are those, both men and women, such as John the Baptist, Paul and others, who have foregone the pleasures of marriage and of having children in order to work more effectively for the Master. Others have dedicated themselves to mission service in foreign countries where living conditions are not conducive to maintaining a family, and have foregone the joys of a family life in order to bring the gospel to those who often didn’t’t appreciate it. Others have ended up in most unfortunate situations with spouses who did not love them, in a relationship more bitter than gall, but who chose to endure the hardship rather than break a commandment of the Lord. But God has promised to more than make up for every sacrifice we may make for Him in this life. If God can take care of the lilies of the field, will He not much more take care of His children who have dedicated their lives to Him and made sacrifices for His name’s honor and glory?
And so the Lord has promised that “the children of the desolate” will be more “than the children of the married woman. . . . Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; nor be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth” (Isaiah 54: 1- 5).
God has promised to be the husband, the protector, the one who understands and takes care of those who put their trust and confidence in Him. Could any woman have a better husband than that?
This dying to self and trusting one’s care and keeping to the Lord is called conversion in the Bible. It affects every aspect of life. It affects our diet, disposition and even the clothes we wear. When we are converted, we live in such a way as to bring glory to the Lord rather than glory to ourselves. And then the Lord brings glory to us.
Peter applies this principle to a woman’s attire. He says: “Likewise you wives. . . . Do not let your beauty be that outward adorning of arranging the hair, of wearing gold, or of putting on fine apparel; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3: 1- 4). Do not try to draw attention to yourselves by the clothes you wear and the style of your hair, but rather put on the ornaments of heaven, which are a meek and humble spirit that has died to self and is not vying for attention. Put on the spirit that is willing to be unnoticed, that is willing to be crucified, that is willing to trust itself into the hand of God. That is the ornament that God is looking for. That is the inner, lasting jewelry and very precious in the sight of God. “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves.. . . Nor returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3: 5- 9).
Instead of attacking when one is reviled, return a blessing, being dead to self. The true Christian is not going to be so concerned about what blessings he may get, but what blessings he may give. And that, according to the verse, is the way we become blessed. We are blessed when we return good for evil.
A HOLIDAY WHICH REPRESENTS THIS CONVERSION
God instituted a special holiday, or more accurately a holy day, to represent this true conversion. It is called the Sabbath. The Sabbath was instituted by God in order to illustrate and effect a true conversion. After the six days of creation, God rested on the seventh day and set it apart for man’s holy worship and use.
Long before there was any sin, or any Jew, the Lord saw the necessity for teaching people the importance of dying to self and living for Him. This was embodied in the Sabbath institution established at the Creation of this earth. “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2: 1- 3).
What was the meaning of this rest? God rested as an example for man. In all that God asks us to do, He first sets us an example. Jesus came down to be an example to each of us. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4: 15). He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14: 6). Thus, when God asked man to keep a specific day holy, in honor of Him, He rested with him as an example for all to follow. How much significance that gives this special day — to think that God Himself rested on the Sabbath!
In the very heart of the ten commandments, the only part of the whole Bible God wrote with His own hand, right along with the simple laws that say: “Do not murder, Do not steal,” God said, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20: 8- 1 1).
The Sabbath is the only day God ever rested on. Even Jesus, after His work of redemption was completed, rested in the tomb on the Sabbath day before being resurrected on the first day of the week and continuing on with His work of redemption, now as our High Priest in heaven. Thus Paul says, at the end of the New Testament, long after Christ was crucified, “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works. . . . There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works” (Hebrews 4: 4- 10).
The Sabbath is a day when we do not try to take care of self. We cease from doing our own works. Rather we do God’s works. We trust our farms with Him and concentrate our time to worshipping Him and teaching our children and family about His marvelous works. On the Sabbath we trust God to take care of our bills. On the Sabbath we trust God to take care of sustaining us, so we do not work to earn a living on that day. It is a day of special trust in the Lord— we signify that we trust Him. God is going to take care of the crops. He is going to take care of the shop. He is going to take care of the home on that day. Since humanitarian activities, such as taking care of the sick, are a part of God’s work, we will work for God in these areas. But our own works we will not do.
The Sabbath symbolizes the whole conversion experience of dying to self and living unto God, trusting Him to take care us. It symbolizes that beautiful relationship God wants to have with each one of us — we think of Him, and He thinks of us. God says: “Those who honor Me I will honor.”
The Sabbath is beautifully explained in Isaiah 58. After talking about a group of people in the last days who will repair the old paths that God has given for us to walk in, the Lord then reveals that the pathway of the Sabbath which He established to lead from earth to heaven will be repaired and restored — it is the Sabbath of the truly converted, for it represents dying to self and living for Christ. Thus the Lord says: “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing YOUR pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing YOUR own ways, nor finding YOUR own pleasure, nor speaking YOUR own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken” (Isaiah 58: 13- 14).
Thus God says we are not to do our works on the Sabbath, but we are to find the Sabbath a delight, for we are doing God’s works. Like a couple in love who enjoy doing things for each other more than they enjoy doing things for themselves, so the Sabbath is the day in which we delight to do things for the Lord, and He delights to do things for us in return.
It is for this reason Satan has fought against the Sabbath so vehemently down through the ages, for it represents that true, joyous conversion experience with the Lord. Satan hates this experience and anything that might lead to it; therefore He has tried to destroy and cover up the Sabbath with tradition and sun worship and false theology based upon twisted Scripture. But we need not be confused, for Jesus our example kept the Sabbath, and He has commanded us to follow in His footsteps. He said: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14: 15).
“Blessed are those who do His commandments (including the Sabbath), that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22: 14). Those who honor God, He will honor. Those who seek His glory will be glorified. He will be their friend and companion throughout eternity.
Jesus said: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love. . . . These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another [not to be loved, but to love] as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends” (John 15: 10- 15). If we put Him first, He will put us first. Jesus said, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne” (Revelation 3: 21).
“Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. . . . Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter of our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. . . . The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watch- care, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son” (Steps to Christ, p. 100).
May you experience the joy that only a true friendship can bring. May you experience the truest joy that only the truest Friend can bring. There is Someone who cares.
In a way this is Marshall Grosboll’s last will and testament to this world. A few days after he wrote this booklet he, along with his wife and two children were killed in a plane crash.
Although Marshall had several other urgent printing projects that he had promised Steps to Life that he would do, a few days before his last trip he felt impelled to stop everything else he was doing and write this booklet. Marshall’s life was devoted to helping others experience the joy and consolation that he found in Jesus and he would be most delighted if you came to him in heaven someday and told him that you read this booklet, and found the One who is altogether lovely and experienced this love which results in eternal life (Luke 10: 25- 28, John 17: 2,3)
To make contact with the One who cares, follow these simple steps:
- Study His character as revealed in the gospels. See John 5: 39.
- Pray. Prayer is opening your heart to God as to a friend. Prayer brings you into direct contact with the One who cares for you. See Matt. 7: 7 and John 14: 12-
- Yield your heart to Him as your Savior and Lord and choose to follow Him. See Jeremiah. 29: 13 – John 12: 25- 27. 9