Here is the transcript from the main-stage speaker Jake Clifford at the One Event in Lincolnshire on Bank Holiday 28th August 2017 on the subject of Sabbath-day rest, beginning with someone else introducing Jake:
Fantastic. Well, who’s having a great time this morning, just one little message. We're now available for you to book in for next year's event that can happen from now, you can do that as soon as you leave here as a family, we will prioritise that. Just imagine this, if next year each of us decided to try and bring a friend along, what would this event look like? It'd be fantastic. I'm already excited about it.
But now it is time to introduce our guest speaker. We're highly honoured that Jake and Asha are with us over this weekend. And I don't know Jake particularly well, but I do have something in common with him that we are both Pastor’s sons. And you know, growing up in Sunday school, we heard that familiar line that we should always know better. So I'm glad that we've got to share in that experience, but it's a bit of a difficult thing growing up as a Pastor's son.
Because when you're in school, you get to that moment when you have to share what your father does. And because I'm amongst family here, I'm going to be really honest with you. I told a lie. In the first moment, it started as my dad was a police officer, and then when I got a little bit carried away and excitement took hold of me, he then became a nightclub bouncer. But obviously, when it came to parents evening, and the vicar turns up, everybody knew that that was not the case. And so as I've now divulged that, for the purposes of the recording, my name is Brian Houston here from Hillsongs Australia.
Jake, it is a phenomenal opportunity for us to have you here. And we're so excited about what you're going to say. So let's give Jake a huge round of applause.
Yes, Pastor’s kid. What can I say? It's the stories that were the worst thing, that whenever dad would come, Mum, in fact, would come up and speak. And then they tell stories that were always embarrassing. It was never the crazy stories, it was always the ones that were embarrassing. And on that note, dad's actually got a book out at the moment. And I can't believe I'm actually advertising this. But in the bookshop, you can find his book, which is called One. It's a great book, nothing affiliated with the One Event at all, but a fantastic read. And you will also get the experience of reading some more stories about me. So, I would go and check it out. Mum has also got a book coming out later in the year called a Time to Live. I recommend that one as well.
Now, some of you may well be thinking now that is a shameless plug. And you'd be right. But the other side of you might be thinking, well, he's just honouring his father or mother just like it says in the fifth commandment. And you would be mostly right.
But it is amazing to be here with you guys today. This is actually my second One Event. And so actually, it's amazing hearing these stories of 35 years. You know, Joe said that he is that age, I'm actually younger than that. So the One Event actually started before I was even born. But it is really amazing to be here, really feels like family. And I came here last year to support my dad who was speaking. And this year, he is also here to support me. So it's just awesome. Yeah, that's definitely a parenting win I think, note to self.
Now if you've read the bio of me, it says that I work for Tearfund. And I do, I head up the Events Team for Tearfund. So, sitting in a tent-like this, it feels pretty at home. And you might be thinking, you know, what is he going to speak about, you know, for someone that works for Tearfund, if you don't know who Tearfund are they are a Christian international aid and development agency that works throughout the world, in over 50 of the poorest countries. And we work through the local church. And our strapline is this. It's following Jesus, where the need is greatest.
And you're probably sitting there thinking, oh, what's he going to talk about? Well, God, as he does, gave me something slightly different to talk about. And he made it abundantly and painfully clear to me that this is what I should be sharing. And so what I want to share with you today is an aspect of God's character, even the name that Jesus calls himself, which is Sabbath, Jesus calls himself Lord of the Sabbath.
And so my title today is Sabbath, and I'm going to be breaking down what Sabbath means in the hope that each and every one of you can get something from this. And I said that God has been speaking to me for this and He has, this is really raw and real for me at the moment. God has been speaking for seven months, seven months yesterday, and I can literally know the exact day because that was the day that my firstborn child was born. And so can I please introduce you to Judah, Mica Clifford. And he's here today. He’s at the front, come and say hello.
But God has been speaking to me from this because these last seven months have been the most brutal and the most awesome experience of my life. And part of that reason is that Judah was born premature. He was born at 33 weeks. For those of you that haven't got babies or don't know much about it, 40 weeks is pretty standard. But it was more than that because although he was born at 33 weeks, he actually had growth restriction. And so he hadn't been growing for quite sometime before that.
And it is a miracle that they caught it, it's a miracle, it's Asha my wife's perseverance. And it's a tube strike, all of those factors came together for the doctors to realise that Judah hadn't been growing. That's a great sentence to say. And they've caught it. And then what they wanted to do was they wanted to give us an elective cesarean. Now the word elective is a lie. They insisted we have it, but we still had to sign a form saying it was elective. So we go through this process and out after pops Judah, weighing in at a mighty two and a bit pounds, or a kilogram, which is, which is that, I mean, literally that, like his whole hand could fit around my fingernail. And he was so small. And if you see that photo that we had here, and if you see him today, he's over six times bigger than he was when he was born.
And I just praise God for that. But because he was small, because he was early, we have to spend some time in a hospital, he had to stay in hospital. It's quite common with premature babies and with some other health issues. And he had that as well. And so Judah had to stay in hospital, which meant we had to stay in hospital. And again, an utter miracle but we were able to get a parents room for the entirety of our time there. Because it's one thing, having your child in hospital, it’s another thing having to leave them there overnight while you go home. And so we lived in the hospital for a month. And for those of you that have never had an experience of living in the hospital, let me tell you, it sucks. It's just the worst.
Don't get me wrong, the care was brilliant. Mostly. But you're there in a hospital and it's not what you want from your child for their first month of life. We managed to make it to one NCT class. And in our first NCT class, they want everyone to think about what do they want your ideal birth plan to be? Like, I mean, I swore, I'm not gonna lie, that wasn't our experience. And so we have Judah, he's weighing in at nothing, you know, he's got cannulas in his hands or in his legs. He's got tubes going through his nose into his stomach, monitored everywhere. It's not a happy time, he's in an incubator is in the high dependency unit for some of this.
And it gets even worse, because we can't even hold him. They say we can hold him once a day. Because anything more than that, and the process of removing him from the incubator is so distressing for his little body that he gets too worked up and it’s just like, Ah, come on. Exactly, audience participation is encouraged. And so Judah getting blood taken from him, like every couple of hours, and this just isn't what we want it to be, and it's a painful process.
And it turns out that this little boy, he's a wriggler. He's a fighter, like he manages somehow with his small hands to pull out the tube from his nose multiple times. Like, can you imagine that? And he rips out the cannula from his hands and his feet, he kicks out and so what that means is is that really often, too often, nurses or doctors have to come in and when you're talking about such tiny little hands and you're talking about such minute veins, that process of trying to put the cannula in is pretty much hit or miss.
And he’s getting stabbed that you’re like ah, it's so painful. And you're like, oh surely God it can't get any worse than this. Too soon. It got worse. If we thought the incubator was bad, if we thought not gonna hold him was bad, if we thought him in crying so much because of the cannula was bad. Well, it got worse because after the first week when Judah was getting his cannula put back in. He wasn't crying. He was in pain. You could see he was in pain. But he wasn't crying.
And it appeared to me. This kid had realised in the first week of his life, that what's the point in crying? No one comes. No one holds him. Oh, and kisses him and says it's okay. Don't worry, son, I love you. And as a parent, I'm just there dying. What do you do in that situation?
Well, you pray. And so Asha, my wonderful wife and I, we just sit there and we're praying, we're just praying our hearts out. And I'm asking God, like God, how can I possibly introduce Judah to a God of love? When this is his experience, and God in His wisdom gives me a song. And it's Good, Good Father, by House Fires, you know it. And that obviously spoke to me personally, because I'm a first-time dad, but the chorus, you're a good good father, it's who you are. It's who you are. It's who you are. And I'm loved by you. It's who I am. It's who I am. It's who I am. And you are perfect in all of your ways.
I'm just singing that song to him. And that song was just summing up everything because it speaks about who God is, speaks about God as the good good father, who is perfect. And it speaks about our identity in Christ, which comes from being loved by Him. And that is what I wanted for my boy, that’s what I want for me. That is what I want for everyone, to understand who they are in Christ, and we're talking Sabbath.
And this is my first point, okay? My first point is this. Sabbath rest starts from an understanding of who you are in Christ, that you are God's, that you are loved, that you are known, that you are beloved.
And I was praying about this talk tons, because trying to write a talk with a small infant who wakes up every couple of hours, is harder than it appears. And so this morning, I'm just praying about this. And I really felt like I wanted to labour this point.
If you're sitting here today, and you don't know what it means, that God loves you. If you don't know your identity in Christ if you don't know that you are chosen, that you are adopted, that he knows you better than anyone can ever possibly know you. He knows the good and the bad, and he loves you all the same. And he wants to be part of your entire life. And so I'm saying to you now, if you don't know what that's like, then please, please, please, please, please respond at the end.
Because I truly believe that our understanding, our identity in Christ, is crucial to everything. Everything. You take the 10 commandments. If you truly understand that you are loved so intimately, despite everything, by this God, then why would you not want to, why would you want to find another god? If you truly understand what that love is like. Well, you know, you're not gonna take his name in vain, you're gonna be too busy praising it. Of course, you’re not gonna make an idol because you know what it's like to love the Almighty God. If you truly understand your identity in Christ, you're gonna honour your parents, you're not gonna kill, you're not gonna steal, you're not gonna covet anything. Because you know, what it's like to be loved.
And you have that understanding that every other person on the face of the earth is a son, and daughter of Christ. So hear me, hear me. If you are sitting here today, and you don't know what that's like, please come at the end. And let us pray for you. We've got an amazing prayer team here. I've seen them in action. They were on full attack last night, everyone coming forward.
So Asha and I are now back in hospital, not saying that we hadn't left, this is just us coming back now from that detour. And Judah is getting stronger and stronger and we can hold him and it's fantastic. There are still some health complications, are still taking blood all the time. It's still difficult.
He's still in the incubator, but we can hold him more and it just feels like things are going in the right direction. But I've still got to work. Like we didn't get any warning with this elective operation. And so I'm trying to work, I mean Tearfund were absolutely amazing. They were like, just be in the hospital, be there, do what you can, but I'd just started a new job, I had all these responsibilities. And so I'm trying to work, I'm trying to be there for Judah, I'm trying to be there for Asha.
And it's just crazy. And this is a problem that I have, is that I just work too much. And this is something that I've been working on in the seven months, although, again, to be brutally honest to you as we're driving up here to the event, knowing full well what I'm speaking on, I asked her Asha, if you um, have you noticed, like in this last seven months that I've been really trying to be more present and to not work so much and to have weekends off, and all this kind of stuff, which is like errr no.
The honesty that comes with a loving wife. I just have this habit of working too much. And I want to provide, that's where it's coming from, it's coming from a place of wanting to provide for my family. And I have responsibilities at work. And also I do some freelance work as well. And that can take up time.
But actually, I love the freelance work because it's the only time I meet any non-Christians. In my life, my life is surrounded by Christians. And so by doing some freelance work that involves kind of large festivals, picking around London and things, it's amazing to be able to meet people that aren’t Christians and to interact with them. And so I love that, but it means that I get tired, it means that I'm working crazy hours at times. And in fact, I was once so tired after an event that I lay down on the pavement and fell asleep. I don't recommend it.
But you know, Sabbath rest is more than just rest from work. Now, biblically speaking, Sabbath came into its own during the Exodus, understatement of the day, but in Egypt, being an Israelite in this period was tough. They did not have it easy. They were slaves, forced labour, they had to work all hours, they didn't get any rest. It was brutal. Literally worked to death. This is not God's plan. They had quotas, they had deadlines, they had stuff they had to do.
They had responsibilities, they had those meetings, you know, that you have to go to even though you know, not a lot of stuff's going to be happening. You know, they had emails they had to do, they had phone calls they had to make, they had all these responsibilities they couldn't get out of because who else is gonna do it? Right, sorry, that's me. The more and more I was reading into this more and more I was thinking about this more and more I was praying about this, it's like there is a real similarity between working too hard from that biblical perspective, and where we are now.
I'm not trying to compare us to what the Israelites were going through. But it's that non-stop work. I'm going to ask the question here, and I want a show of hands, be brave even if it’s just my hand in the air. But it is now, of course, Monday, which meant we've just had the weekend. And so I want to ask over the weekend, please put your hand in the air if you did any work, which could be checking emails, it could be a phone call, it could be reading a document for work, having a conversation with someone about work.
That's a lot of hands. That's a lot of hands. And for the Israelites in Egypt, on top of everything that they were creating the bricks and everything else, they also had to provide stuff that the Israelites were then sacrificing to their gods. And the problem with any other god, whatever it be, lowercase god, not our God, is that they are endless. They always want more, they never come to an end. They always demand more, they always seek more, because this was the way of the world then and it's just the same as it is now but whatever the god might be, but to the Israelites like the world of the time saw sacrifice like this.
If we take a farmer, the understanding was because you know we've got a farmer, his dad is a farmer, his granddad was a farmer. They understood that in order for the grass to grow, or the crops to grow, they needed rain and they needed sun but too much crops die, a lot of rain crops die, there is a balance. But what happens when you don't get enough rain, the understanding began to develop that actually there must be a rain god, there must be a sun god.
And this is why when you read the Bible or any kind of historical document, what you see is you see gods of everything. Gods of things, gods of places, because so many gods. And so in order to appease the god of rain, you have to offer something, because if it's not raining, then the god must not be happy with you, you must have done something wrong to anger that god. And so you offer something, and that's fine if it rains, until it doesn't rain again. He can't offer the same thing again. It didn't work.
And so you've got to offer more. And this is the way of the world, you had to keep offering more because if it still doesn't rain, then that offering didn't work. You've got to offer something more, which is why when we read the Old Testament, and we hear about the other gods, you hear about their priests cutting themselves. Because you get to a point where you have to offer more and more and more and more, and blood equals life. And so they're cutting themselves. And you hear about the awful practice of child sacrifice; not with our God. Our God is a God of limits.
Which is why the Book of Leviticus is amazing. I love the Book of Leviticus. It's genuinely my favourite book. Because for me, understanding the world that Jesus was in, understanding Jesus as a Rabbi comes from understanding of the Torah. And Leviticus to me is an amazing book, because it's page after page after page, of, if you have done this wrong, this is what you offer. If that happens, do this, for that do that. It's limiting. Because if you're not clear, if you've not written it down, then the danger is that you keep offering more, and that leads to a horrible place.
It's why Abraham when he heard his God, say, take Isaac and sacrifice him, he's not surprised by that. That's how other gods operated. But he knew something was different. He knew God will provide, he even told his servants as he was going up, that they would both be coming down. And God's even better than that. Because again, in Leviticus, you read about it not just being for the rich, because that's the same thing with these other gods, you have to offer more and more and more that gets more and more expensive, not with our God.
In our God, what you read about is if you're rich, you offer this if you're poor, you offer this, but both is equal in the eyes of God. I mean, come on, that’s a massive cultural leap for the world. That is our God. Our God is a limiting God. And this is what Sabbath is about, Sabbath is about saying, stop. It's about saying that endless production, endless sacrifice that is not the way of our God. It's our God bringing in the kingdom of heaven. That's what you read about. It's about our God saying, productivity is not King. It's our God saying endless consumerism, this endless consuming is not King. That is just one more part of what Sabbath is.
And so we're back in hospital again. Asha and I are of course worried about Judah. We're worried about his health, we worried about how long we're going to be there, I'm worried about my work. I'm like, there's just so much stuff to worry about all of it revolving around Judah, and just so many unknowns. Sometimes things are looking good. Sometimes things are looking bad again, it's just such a worry.
And that leads me to my next point, which is Sabbath is freedom. Sabbath is freedom from worry, freedom from anxiety, freedom from that need to constantly need more and more and more. Because it's putting our trust in God. The Israelites have escaped Egypt, and now in the wilderness, and its literal wilderness, we're talking dessert. Now I spent some time with some bedouin, in the desert, there is literally nothing, like if you don't bring food in, you're going to struggle, and it's really cold at night, and it's really hot during the day, like it's not a particularly nice place.
And these like have come from this place of work, work, work, work, work, work, work, non-stop work. And now God's providing for them in the desert. He's providing Bread of Life manna. And the rules for manna are, you can collect it on the day, but you cannot store any up. Because God wants to teach them to trust in him. You're in the desert. You haven't got enough food, of course, you want to store it.
But God says no, trust in me. Except on the sixth day, because on the sixth day, you can store it up and it will last. If you stored it on any of the other days, it would have gone mouldy overnight. But on the sixth day, you can store your manna so that you don't have to work on that seventh day. Can you imagine what that does to a community that have just come out of that place of demand, demand, demand, demand, demand, it’s insane.
And this is why Jesus can say these incredible words in the New Testament. He says in Matthew six, therefore I tell you, do not worry about your Life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear; is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes. Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow, or reap, or store away in barns. And yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they, can not any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.
This is what Sabbath is about. It's about saying, God, I have all these worries, it's not hiding the worries away, it’s saying God, I have these worries, I don't know how I'm going to provide, I need to raise money for my kids. So I have to do this, or I don't know how we're gonna get through the week because we haven't got enough food in the cupboards, I haven't got enough money coming in. And it's God saying, I’ll look after you, I’ll provide. It's God saying, this is what the kingdom of heaven looks like. But you have to trust Him.
And that's a hard place to be in. It's a scary place to be in. But God promises us so much more. And in fact, God is so clear in the Bible about the importance of Sabbath, that it goes right in the middle of the 10 commandments, quite literally, commandment number four, there is more time and more word count spent for the Sabbath than any other commandment. I was surprised by that. Sabbath is a big deal.
So Asha and I are still in hospital. And I'm just in this weird family bubble. I just can't see past Judah. And then what happens is, God opens my eyes, he opens my eyes to the fact that there are other people in our room. There are other people on the ward that are going through the same thing. Some worse, some better. And God just opens my eyes to the fact that we are all equal. We're all equal in our pain. We're all equal in our helplessness.
And it doesn't matter what walk of life we're from. We are all equal. Now Asha been, she's brilliant at stuff like that. She's got it from the beginning, she's been talking to people left, right and centre. And so she introduces me to people. And that's fantastic. Now Judah it turns out, it's the first time they've had that name on the ward. So it's led to quite a big discussion that's been going on with including nurses going back and researching what Judah means back home, which has led to some incredible conversations. As she's been singing Bethel songs to Judah. And so, you know, we've had doctors and nurses coming out saying, you know, supporting us and chatting about that.
And we've been there with these other parents, praying with them, chatting with them, if they weren't able to stay, checking on their kid. And we get to know this lady Asha, particularly who isn't from the UK, she was here, but she had to live in a woman's hostel. And she had quintuplets, that's five. And all five were here. And as we got to know her, as we got to pray with her, and spend time with her over the time that we were there, one by one her kids passed away. And I truly believe like I said she wasn't from the UK I truly believe that support that Asha gave that woman saved her.
Next point I want to make is this. Sabbath is the great equaliser. When all are equal through rest, it didn't matter that this lady wasn't from the UK, it didn't matter that she was applying for asylum and that she had to live in a parent's home, in a woman's home. It didn't matter at all. It didn't matter what walk of life anyone was from, because we were all equal in that time. Sabbath is the great equalizer. You see in production when it comes to work, work, work, work work, when it comes to consuming, not everyone is equal.
When it comes to work, there are some people that get promoted, there are some people that don't. There is a hierarchy that appears, not on Sabbath. On Sabbath, everyone is equal. And we see in our lives don't we, like we see it that over a period of time, some people do good. Some people do better and better and better, some families succeed, whereas others have it harder. And it could be through an injustice that they've got nothing they can do about it could be through issues like health, it could be anything but we see it.
We see it at our churches, I can't be the only one. But when it comes to Sabbath, nothing else matters. All are equal. And this is God's plan from the beginning. Every seven days, no matter what, everything is equal. Every seven years, leave the land for a whole year because everyone is equal. It's not about production. And then the Sabbath of all Sabbaths, the Jubilee, read Leviticus 25, it will blow your socks off. It's not just that the land is left fallow. It's not just a year of not working, it is ultimate equality.
Because if you are in debt, the debt is cancelled. Not changed, not remortgaged, cancelled. The land you might have owned as a family years ago gets returned to you, for free. Slaves get set free. This is radical stuff. This is another massive cultural leap that I’ve been talking about, this is what God does. This is the story of the Bible. Okay, guys, this is off tangent a little bit. But this is the story of the Bible.
It's God talking to this person, Abraham, who becomes a family who becomes a tribe, who becomes a nation, on these massive cultural steps forward. And sometimes it's really painful. And it's like kicking and screaming. And sometimes it's awesome. And as we go through the Bible, we see God beginning to take these people on this journey towards what the kingdom of heaven looks like. This is what the kingdom of heaven looks like, wait. God can't take Abraham here, all the way here, that massive change would be impossible. Okay. If you said to Abraham and his tribe, ah guys just turn the other cheek, they would have been butchered.
Because it takes these cultural steps, it takes society these cultural steps, to get to the point where Jesus can stand here in all honesty and say turn the other cheek or the extra mile. And another one of his massive cultural steps, is that Jesus died for us. And then rose again, for each and every one of us. That's how we can understand what it is, in terms of our identity in Christ, it’s because of what Jesus did here on the cross, and through rising again, that's what it is. That's the journey of the Bible.
And that story, ladies and gentlemen, is our story as Christians. That is all part of our story. That's why when we read the Bible, it's so important that we read it all. Because if you don't read it, you end up repeating it. And so the Bible is this massive narrative of God taking the Israelites, which is by us now, by the way, because the New Testament Christians, were part of that story. It’s so exciting!
I got off tangent, I don't even know where I am. Next point I want to make is the Sabbath, that orientates our focus. This actually fits to what I was saying thank goodness. Sabbath reorientates our focus, okay. Moses understood that the promised land was a temptation and the danger to the Israelites. Not in terms of who was living there when they had to take it, no nothing to do that, it's because Moses knew that the promised land would make the Israelites prosperous. They will make them rich. It would make them question whether they could do it all themselves.
I love what Sophia said yesterday morning, and she said, we're not called to have a good life. We're called to have an impossible life, and only why a possible life is possible. An impossible life is possible if we do it with God, but Moses understood that if you don't remember, if you don't accept the story that I've just said, as your own, then you can get complacent. You can get prosperous, you can get to the point where you think you can do it yourself.
And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you right now. That is not the life that God wants for you. That is not the kingdom of heaven on earth, which we pray every single time we say the Lord's Prayer. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Which is why, again, when you read Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, and other books in the Torah, what you read is Moses saying again and again and again, remember that once you were slaves in Egypt, remember, don't forget, because when you remember that once you were slaves, you had to work non stop, that there was no rest, then you can see what God has done for you. The journey that God has taken you on, and that story is our story.
We need to remember, because ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you, in the UK, with our welfare state, with our job support, with all the things that we have we are in the promised land, and it's so easy for us to be questioning, do I even need God? Yes. Answer, it's to do with how you view things. If you view things as property, as possession, as owning them, then what you do is you start deciding actually, I need more things.
And that is a cycle that keeps going. But, if you see the world, and things like Psalm 24 says, then you have a kingdom of heaven view. It says the earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it, then the proper way of life is to enhance the neighbourhood. So that all may enjoy the produce of the land. The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. Everything. Nothing that you call yours is yours, is all Gods.
And if we view the world that way, then we understand that it's just as important for my neighbour living in Lebanon, or that Syrian refugee, or the 1.3 billion people that live in extreme poverty earning under $1 a day, it's just as important for them to have access to everything. Because we're all equal. 1.3 billion people living on like a pound a day. Like what is that? How is that possible in 2017? Here in the UK, and our prosperous land, do we forget that everything is God's? Do we go along with society's view that more is great, and new is better?
Or how about this one, is a higher demand for more and more cheaper goods, meaning that we are putting other people in their version of Egypt? Mark four says, the Sabbath was made for man, not the man for Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath. Lord of the Sabbath, what a great title. In the New Testament, the Pharisees have got the heart of what Moses is saying here. But they understand that they don't want to work, but they go too far the other way.
Because they come up through the oral tradition, they come up with 39 categories, not just types of work, actual categories of forbidden work on the Sabbath, which includes all my personal favourites. For the very strict Pharisees, how many steps you can take on a Sabbath. And I can just imagine some Pharisees being like, I’ve gotta get home. And then they like running out of steps and we're like, oh, man, what do I do now? And I know what you're thinking, you think you get a mate to come and give him a piggyback. Oh, no. Carrying is forbidden work, or go and get a donkey. But no, you can't use the animals. He just has to do as I did and just live on the pavement.
They got the heart, but they went too far the other way. Jesus, as always, shows us what true Sabbath looks like. In one of my favourite New Testament verses in John seven on the Sabbath, okay, I'm setting the scene here, on the Sabbath Festival of Tabernacles, my personal favourite festival, because the festival tabernacles is brilliant, because you basically you go somewhere, you go to Jerusalem, and then you build yourself a tent. And you live in a tent for the entirety of the festival, and aha that rings a bell. I love it. I love it. But the reason they do it, the reason they build the tent, is because never forget that once we were slaves in Egypt and we were living in the wilderness, in tents.
And so every year you build your tent so that you may never, never, never, never, never, never, never forget. And this festival comes at the end of the agricultural year. So it's also called the season of joy. And it comes so joyful, it comes at the end of the season. So you know how much produce has been grown, you know, that God has provided for you. There are several other festivals where you collect in harvests, but this is the end of the harvest year.
And so you've collected in your food, your crops, you know that God has provided for you, and so you can be joyful. The season of joy. The last day of the festival is a Sabbath. And the high priest is in the temple and he collects a golden water picture. And there's a procession and I'm picturing thousands and thousands of people, but there's a procession with him walking down to the pool of Siloam and he fills it. Now the pool of Siloam is really interesting, by the way, because it's to do with healing.
There's a tradition that regularly angels would come down and they would stir the water and if you're the first person in the water, after the water has been stirred, you'll be healed. And Jesus actually heals someone on the Sabbath heals someone here. And that's one of the reasons that the Jewish leaders criticised him and want to threaten to kill him is because he heals on the Sabbath. I'm like, come on. So anyway, high priest, golden water pitcher, collects water from the pool of Salam. And then there is a procession all the way back to the temple holding afar. And this said, of this particular part of the festival, it is said, that if you have never experienced this, then you do not know what joy is, this was a celebration.
You've got people waving palm trees around and going singing this verse it says, save us we pray, oh Lord, our Lord, we pray, let us thrive. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. This is what people are chanting, blessed is the house of the Lord. As they go there's a procession, and the High Priest gets to the temple and he gets to the outer courtyard, and he pours the water around. Because water is life.
This is a joyous festival. It literally is told to be the season of joy. And they don't know joy unless you've seen this, and it's at this point where Jesus, such a legend, He stands up, now Jesus if you read the Bible, where Jesus chooses to preach is as important as the message he says. Jesus stands up at this festival and says this, let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow within them. Jesus ushering in who he is, is Jesus ushering in the kingdom of heaven, is Jesus being so deliberate in choosing a Sabbath? Joy at the season of joy festival, during an event that is known as a joyous occasion, to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
The Sabbath is awesome. Oh man, Sabbath is understanding our identity in Christ and claiming Sabbath is trusting in God for everything. Sabbath is freedom from worry from anxiety from that fear of not being able to provide for your family, from the anxiety or the fear of anything to do with not having enough. Sabbath is freedom from that constant demand that we hear from society and in our adverts that we must have more and more and more and we need that because it's new, even though that works fine.
Sabbath is equality for all. Not just all in the UK. We call the gospel the good news. It's only the good news if it’s the good news for everyone. Everyone, those 1.3 billion people Sabbath is God saying to you, that you do not have to work and work and work. Sabbath is trusting in God. Sabbath is an expression of the character of God. Sabbath is a visible outworking of the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. That's pretty awesome. Sabbath says less is more. Sabbath says you are loved. Sabbath says you are known. Sabbath says, you our beloved. Sabbath is valuing yourself. Sabbath is as relevant today as it has ever been. Amen.
If we're gonna invite some of the musicians up, I want to go to response now. And we covered a lot. And so the response is gonna be quite varied. But I really feel like there are people in this room that need to respond to this message. I said right at the beginning, that if you don't know your identity in Christ, please come to the front. If you don't know that Jesus died for you, if you know that he loves you, no matter what you think of yourself, or whatever people think of you, he loves you no matter what, then please come to the front. Because we have a prayer team that would love to pray for you.
It might be that you're not a Christian. And you're sitting here and you have never made that declaration of faith. Let me tell you, you are still part of this massive story that started with Abraham that went through all these giant leaps, and went past Jesus dying on the cross for you and rising again, because it's here, now today, you being in this room is a continuation of that story. And so if you're in this room today, and you haven't made that commitment to faith, come to the front. Because Jesus would love, love to get in your life.
If you're here, and you feel like, actually I am really struggling with worry, with anxiety. Please come to the front, we'd love, love to pray for you. If you feel like actually, I'm stuck in this society's view of constantly wanting more and more and more, and I want that broken, please come to the front now. If anything, from what I've shared, has connected with you, and that is God prompting you, please come to the front so that we can pray for you. Sabbath is an outworking of the kingdom of heaven on earth. And so if you want to be engaging with Sabbath, and you think there's something not quite right in your life, please come to the front. And let us pray with you.
On a personal level, if you've gone through anything, or going through anything like we have with Judah, I'd love to come and pray for you as well. It's so great to be able to share this message with you today. It’s so great that you can see Sabbath for all that it is. If anyone else wants to come forward, please, please do we've got a prayer team. If the prayer team could just come to the front here as well.
And as we are continuing to worship, let all of us think about how we can continue to usher in the kingdom of heaven here on earth every day of the week. The Sabbath is just an amazing day that God is preordained for us. That every day of the week we should be ushering in the kingdom of heaven. And so let's worship together. Let's praise our God. Thank you