SABBATH

OUR HEAVENLY SABBATH

“Six days are lawfully given to the affairs of this life, to provide for the body, but the things that pertain to God, and the welfare of the soul, are much more important. The things of time pass away, and perish with the using, but the things of God are permanent, and will never pass away. If we worship God in spirit and in truth here, we shall worship him in heaven for ever” George Rose (ref#174).

“…nothing…will…break the Sabbath of eternity: the Triune God shall rejoice in the work of His hands…it is Jesus…who leads us into the heavenly rest….The renovated creation…Sabbath rest will not be until Christ comes to usher us into it, the typical earthly Sabbath must continue until then. The Jews call the future rest the ‘day which is all Sabbath’” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Heb 4:9]).

“Consider the Lord’s Day an honour and delight. Let your heart be elevated in holy joy, and your lips be employed in the high praises of God. This day more resembles heaven, than any other” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“It was always kept be the Jews and after them by the early Christians, as a festival, and not a fast” Archibald Hodge (ref#181). 

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SABBATH

SATURDAY PREP

NOTE: The below quotes seem out of touch with our modern world. Yet, the words of warning GOD Himself speaks concerning the Sabbath, causes me to pause. Since 9/11 falls on a Sunday this year, Eugene H. Peterson’s contemporary language of the Bible quote is something to be taken very seriously. It appears at the end of this days blog.

“Never leave work for Sunday that can be done on Saturday. The day does not belong to us, and should not be encroached upon with secular things which, by foresight and method, can be done on another day” George Rose (ref#174). “Let every thing then be so arranged in your household, beforehand, that there may be no interruption to religious duties, and to attendance on the means of grace” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“Strictly speaking, Saturday evening is not part of the Lord’s Day, but there are good reasons to use it for preparation….We are about to have special dealings with God on Sunday. Reverence requires special preparation for this…God does not love our rushing into His presence without the right attitude….It is not enough to show reverence with our bodies; we must gain a reverent frame of mind” John Owen (ref#176).

“Dwell on God’s majesty, holiness, and greatness. Remember Him as the Author of our sabbatical rest. Remember His work that brings about our celebration of His ordinances, especially redemption through our Lord Jesus Christ. Ponder the importance, the reasons, and the purposes of the Lord’s Day to follow. Reflect on its holy privileges, advantages, and duties” John Owen (ref#176).

“Prayer is the main way we express dependence upon God in Christ. Prayer is necessary for bringing our hearts to a sense of our own spiritual poverty and our desperate need of God’s grace. A season of prayer prior to the Lord’s Day is an indispensable means for the greatest blessing” John Owen (ref#176).

“Workdays can desensitize us to the things of God….We ought to rid our minds of secular, earthly business as much as we can each Saturday evening….Faithfulness on Saturday promotes blessing on Sunday” John Owen (ref#176).

“These are intended as helpful directions, not strict rules….If we are truly unable to do these things on a particular Saturday evening, we should not think we have sinned, but only that we have lost a good opportunity” John Owen (ref#176).

“‘This is God’s Message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the Sabbath by turning it into just another workday…Don’t use the Sabbath to do business as usual. Keep the Sabbath day holy…” (Jer 17:21-23 MSG)

“‘But if you won’t listen to me, won’t keep the Sabbath holy, won’t quit using the Sabbath for doing your own work, busily going in and out of the city gates on your self-important business, then I’ll burn the gates down. In fact, I’ll burn the whole city down, palaces and all, with a fire nobody will be able to put out!’” (Jer 17:27 MSG)

SABBATH

CORPORATE ACTIVITIES

“…there should be a stated day on which they should assemble to hear the Law, and perform religious rites, or which, at least, they should specially employ in meditating on his works, and be thereby trained to piety” John Calvin (ref#187).

“Worship with reverence, seriousness, order, diligence, and attention. These inner traits of true worship are very important…” John Owen (ref#176).

“We cannot be devotional unless our minds are fixed upon the object of our worship; we cannot attend to God when gazing about the congregation” George Rose (ref#174). “Beware of indulging yourself in any practice which may have the effect of leading others to disregard the rest and sanctity of the Sabbath” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“…public duties that are necessary to the right sanctifying of the Lord’s Day are these:

  1. Affectionate prayer…
  2. Our reverent and attentive hearing of the Word of God, either read or preached…
  3. Singing of the Psalms…
  4. …administration of the [ordinances], especially that of the Lord’s Supper” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#182).

“When as we make God’s command our ground, we make God’s glory our [goal]) Thomas Case (ref#185).

SABBATH

THE TIME REQUIREMENT FOR SABBATH KEEPING

What motivates me to action is remembering a previous joy of similar activities. I have never moved myself into the LORD’s presence and been sorry I did. So each remembrance is sweeter. But time is required to get into His presence.

Preparing to take mushroom pictures is easy, however sometimes it is not pleasant doing it. While getting into GOD’s presence is difficult, once there it becomes the greatest joy. The hard part is moving myself into His presence.

“We must rest entirely, in order that God may work in us; we must resign our own will, yield up our heart, and abandon all the lusts of the flesh. In short, we must desist from all the acts of our own mind, that God working in us, we may rest in him…” John Calvin (ref#187).

“God’s rest is the rest of contemplation on the work that He has made, with all the penetrating influence, and sustaining power, and blessed oversight, that the divine contemplation must involve” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188).

“The worship due to the great Creator requires time for the contemplation of his attributes, as revealed in his glorious works. It requires time, also, to recollect all the manifestations of his wisdom and goodness in the dispensations of his Providence, and to give vocal expression to feelings of gratitude for the benefits received, and the happiness bestowed” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“If you are…in need of a spiritual tonic, go to the book of Acts, and there you will find this irrepressible joy that these people had in confirmation of the Lord’s promise” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 16th).

SABBATH

HELPS FOR OBSERVING THE SABBATH

“Let the whole day be consecrated to the service of God, especially in acts of worship, public and private. This weekly recess from worldly cares and avocations, affords a precious opportunity for the study of God’s word, and for the examination of our own hearts” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

Use physical refreshments so we can feel strong and well in our worship. God does not require fasting and weight loss on this day….Always practice self-control so that you do not even begin to sin, and so that you do not lose alertness from a full belly.

Work very hard to make this day spiritually beneficial….Naps are not a religious part of the Lord’s Day except as they help us to attend to its duties….All pains and labors on the Lord’s Day are lawful if they help us keep it as we should.

Do works of love and necessity. Visit the sick. Revive the poor. Help the distressed. Rescue perishing people or even animals.

Be careful about sports and recreations. Good sense about these on Sunday is found in ancient legislation of emperors and nations. We can summarize the best sentiments by reminding you that the Lord’s Day is supposed to be full of joy in Him that He might be praised and glorified” John Owen (ref#176).

“…a people truly flourish when religion flourished among them. And this is the effect of Sabbath-sanctification; when that branch of religion is kept up other instances of it are kept up likewise; but when that is lost, devotion is lost either in superstition or in profaneness. It is a true observation, which some have made, that the streams of all religion run either deep or shallow according as the banks of the Sabbath are kept up or neglected” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Jer 17:19-27]).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH AND ITS LENGTH

“There is a threefold rest or Sabbath spoken of in Scripture: (1) temporal; (2) spiritual, which is an internal soul-rest in ceasing from sin (Heb 4:3); (3) eternal, celebrated in heaven (Heb 4:9, 11), where the saints rest from their labors. It is the first of these, the weekly Sabbath that is here meant” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“It was designed to meet the physical, moral, spiritual, and social wants of men’ to afford a suitable time for the public moral and religious instruction of the people and the public and private worship of God; and to afford a suitable period of rest from the wear and tear of secular labor” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).

“Our duty with respect to the Sabbath is to keep it holy. God has made it holy, set it apart for holy exercises, and we must keep it holy, spending it in holy exercises” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“The quantity of time to be observed as a Sabbath of rest [is] a day—a whole day of twenty-four hours, and one day in seven….Our Sabbath is held in memory of Christ’s resurrection, and it is certain that Christ rose early in the morning of the first day of the week…the day to be kept holy is one whole day—not a few hours, while the public worship lasts, but a whole day” Thomas Boston (ref#179).

“I once heard a man say about the observance of the Lord’s Day. He said he had come to the conclusion that the Lord’s Day, like the Lord Himself, was in danger of dying between two thieves, the two thieves being Saturday night and Monday morning! He said that, increasingly, Saturday night was extended and extended and blended into Sunday, and then people started their Monday morning quite early on Sunday evening. Sunday becomes just a few hours during the morning, and then we think, ‘Well, that is enough now; we have been to church once.’ Thus, our Lord’s Day has been lost between two thieves” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#185).

“Rise early, and let your first thoughts and aspirations be directed to heaven. Meditate much and profoundly on divine things, and endeavor to acquire a degree of spirituality on this day which will abide with you through the whole week” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“My advice to all Christians is to contend earnestly for the whole day against all enemies, both without and within. It is worth a struggle…” J. C. Ryle (ref#178).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH DEFINED

“…the Sabbath was God’s first act after the earth had been made fit for human habitation,…This day, from the beginning, was a holy day…for the purpose of teaching man that whilst he might lawfully spend six days in worldly employments, he must rest on the seventh day” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

“The Sabbath is a sign. It points to a truth that we are never to forget. The truth is that God (and not we ourselves) has sanctified us. He has chosen us and set us apart and worked to make us distinct among the peoples of the earth” John Piper (ref#169).

“…the Sabbath is a gift of love to meet man’s need, not an oppressive burden to make him miserable or proud….It should not be governed rigidly by narrow definitions of what is work and what is not. It is a day to focus on the Lord. And now Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath…so it is a day to focus on Jesus. And it is impossible that a day focused on Jesus should be a burden to the believing heart…” John Piper (ref#169).

“As the great object of all religious instruction and worship is to please God and secure His blessing, so let great care be taken that whatever is done be sincere, humble, and fervent” William S. Plumer (ref#183).

SABBATH

SABBATH BECOMES THE LORD’S DAY

“…there is no commandment in the Ten Commandments that says the Israelites were to keep the seventh day of the week….What God really commanded through Moses was: ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God’ “ (Exodus 20:9-10) R. A. Torrey (ref#30, p154).

first day of the week. A Jewish expression for Sunday, and similar to the phrase used in the Gospels to describe the day of the week on which Jesus rose from the dead (Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). This shows that Christians gathered for worship on Sunday, not Saturday (cf Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10), in order to acknowledge the crucial importance of Christ’s resurrection” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p2216, [1 Cor 16:2]).

“…the Jewish holy day was abolished; and as a thing necessary to retain decency, order, and peace in the church, another day was appointed for that purpose” John Calvin (ref#187).

“Christ having risen from the dead always met his disciples on this day. And afterwards, the apostles and the churches were accustomed to come together on this day, “to break bread,” that is to celebrate the Lord’s supper. And when the apostle wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians, it was already established as a custom, not only in the church of Corinth, but in the churches of Macedonia and Galatia, that their contributions for the poor, should be collected on this day. From the apostolical practice, we rightly infer the divine authority for this change. So generally was the first day of the week observed, in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, and for the celebration of religious worship, that in the times of the apostles, it had obtained the significant denomination of the Lord’s Day” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

So, to Christians the first day of the week, Sunday, is the official Lord’s Day.

SABBATH

WHAT EXACTLY IS SABBATH REST?

In the beginning GOD… “In…six…days He revealed His power as the Almighty Creator…” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188), but on the seventh day He rested.

Does “rest” mean a nap in the afternoon? It could, but the “rest” GOD speaks of after He created the world does not mean “the cessation of all activities” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177). GOD’s “Sabbath rest consists of resting from the labors of the working week” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177).

“God did work on the seventh day, though His activities on the seventh day were of a different nature from the ones in which He had been engaged during the preceding days” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177). “God’s providential working could not cease, or no provision would be made for the supply of His creatures’ wants. ‘All things’ needed to be ‘upheld’ (Heb 1:3), or they would have passed back into nonentity” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177). “He rested from the work of creation and restoration, but He then began (and has never ceased) the work of Providence—the providing of supplies for His myriad creatures” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177).

“…setting an example to his creature man;…He not only rested on the seventh day, but sanctified it; that is, set it apart to a holy use—to be employed, not in bodily labour…but in the contemplation of the works and attributes of God, and in holding delightful communion with his Maker” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).

Our “rest” then, is not bodily labor unless we call getting ourselves into His presence labor. Communing with GOD by contemplating His works and attributes should constitute a great part of our “rest.”

SABBATH

INTRODUCTION TO THE SABBATH

“The plain truth is, that the Sabbath-breaking of the present day is one among many proofs of the low state of vital religion” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

As with all GOD’s commands there is great benefit in keeping them (Ps 19:11). But we, (I’m pretty sure that will include all of us) have strayed so far from keeping the Sabbath that we have not experienced most of the benefits.

“The first thing that is essential before we can ever have and hold this joy is the absolute centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 17th).

CHRIST must be at the top of our priority list if we are to approach the subject of the Sabbath correctly. Then we must believe that keeping the commandment will provide joy. Then we must be blameless in keeping it.

Just a note before we move on to explain the “What” of the Sabbath next week: Theories exist that Sabbath-keeping has been done away with along with the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament when JESUS became the sacrifice for our sins. If you have ever heard this theology or don’t think the Sabbath is important to keep, see:

http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/the-lords-day.php

Archibald Alexander gives a very thought-out account of why it is still a command for us who live after the resurrection of JESUS.

“Unless we had a particular day set apart, by divine authority of the worship of God…public worship would, for the most part, fall into disuse” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).