SABBATH

MY REST

The Sabbath rest is to remind myself that GOD rested after He ceased the work of creation, and JESUS rested after He ceased the work of redemption. These two facts should be the subjects I attend to on Sundays. But the “rest” the Hebrew’s writer speaks of is a daily rest.

“For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (Heb 4:10 NASB).

Since I believe CHRIST JESUS has given what GOD requires from me, I enter into rest (ref#15, [Heb 4:10]). My experience of rest is ceasing from my own works of righteousness, and from the burdensome works of the law (ref#18, [Heb 4:10]).

Since CHRIST impresses the FATHER I don’t have to impress the FATHER. Resting in CHRIST is a state of happiness. My salvation does not depend on my continuing work of being righteous!

“Externally, that meant ceasing from his ordinary tasks in order to meet with God. Internally, it involved ceasing from all self-sufficiency in order to rest in God’s grace” Sinclair Ferguson (ref#193).

Yet, I need to keep myself abreast of situations that threaten my rest. Situations continually rise to steal what GOD freely gives me through CHRIST. Happiness disappears when I lose fellowship with my LORD and default back to trying in my own strength to be righteous.

Impress upon me that if I don’t rehearse the Gospel I will fall back into burdensome works and be void of rest. I know preaching the gospel to myself each day will equip me with more boldness to believe what GOD says. I’ll recognize and benefit more from His grace and be more willing to embrace His commands (ref#60, p52). By reveling in CHRIST I retain my fellowship with GOD and find my rest! As I rehearse the Gospel, “give me that rest without rest, the rest of ceaseless praise” The Valley of Vision (ref#76, p172).

“…we must praise God – in the morning and every night, not only on Sabbath days, but every day; it is that which the duty of every day requires. We must praise God, not only in public assemblies, but in secret, and in our families, showing forth, to ourselves and those about us, his lovingkindness and faithfulness” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).

VALLEYS TO MOUNTAINTOPS

BLOGGING ON THE SABBATH

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.55.30 AMWas reading about the Sabbath on the Sabbath—particularly GOD speaking to the Israelites about manna:

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day…On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily’” (Ex 16:4-5 ESV).

“…The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days…” (Ex 16:29 ESV).

“This pattern embodies trust in the Lord’s provision for something Israel has no part in producing; later, when Israel has settled in the land and is depending more on its own labor, the regular Sabbath rest will be seen as an expression of divine mercy” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p171, [Ex 16:22-30]).

“… the manna’s condition is controlled, as their lives should be, by the word of the Lord (see v.28)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p171, [Ex 16:24]).

The whole manna thing was to test them to see if they would trust GOD. It corresponds to the words we have in the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.” GOD wants no storing up and forgetting who provides daily for us.

All this reminds me again that the LORD creates my circumstances and is able and willing to walk me through every one of them. Everything everyday I need He provides and all I have to do is trust Him.

So, like the Israelites, the LORD provides for my Sabbath! He has plans for me. Therefore, honoring the Sabbath is not so much about what I do on the day but who I trust and follow as each hour goes by.

Part of my weekday work is writing a blog. But, here I am sitting at my desk writing this on Sunday. Am I keeping the Sabbath holy? Well, I feel that the SPIRIT of GOD is putting words in my head and that always prompts me to come to the computer and write them down. I feel I’m following the LORD and trusting Him in this situation. But, am I? Maybe if I would resist getting His words in print today He would bring them to my memory on a weekday. Maybe I’m writing so I can have something good to post. Yes, maybe I’m taking GOD’s goodness and giving glory to myself and not Him. I could easily persuade myself to close this computer. The logic of law tells me that I should not do weekday work on Sunday. So, do I have a catch in my spirit about what I’m doing right now?

Actually, no. First, one thing I’ve learned is that when the SPIRIT is speaking I need to write it down immediately. His thoughts are foreign to my thoughts therefore I have no affinity to remember them therefore I must write them down. And, I have never had Him repeat Himself. Obviously, for me at least, if I take His words lightly by not writing them I grieve Him. And, secondly, if I don’t act immediately on His prompts He immediately leaves.

Today He has illuminated the passage of Scripture about manna and I must follow Him as He teaches me. I have no self-gratifying motives. I simply delight to do the will of my FATHER (Ps 40:8). For me this activity is perfect. For me today this work like my weekday work is a Sabbath rest.

NOTE: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…” (Rev 1:10 ESV). I am glad the Apostle John allowed himself to write on the Sabbath otherwise he would not have penned the book of Revelation.

 

SABBATH

SATURDAY EVENING WORSHIP: SUNDAY EVENING WORSHIP

Let’s start with the one established in the 1520’s. “Until recent decades, the second service was an essential part of the Lord’s Day observance…” Jon D. Payne (ref#170). More meetings were established on Sunday so Christians would hear more of the Word of GOD.

“Having not one but two (and sometimes three) public services on the Lord’s Day reinforces belief in the power, efficacy, and sufficiency of the ordinary means of grace to save, sanctify, and comfort God’s elect. On the sacred day that God set apart for sacred worship and the building up of his church, why wouldn’t we want more—rather than less—preaching, singing of the psalms and hymns, prayer, participation in the sacraments, and corporate worship and fellowship” Jon D. Payne (ref#170)?

“By attending morning and evening worship…We will hear an additional fifty-two carefully prepared expository sermons,…sing hundreds more psalms and hymns, and pray myriad more prayers” Jon D. Payne (ref#170).

“Faithful attendance to both morning and evening worship bookends this special day with God-centered worship and helps us not to turn the rest of the Lord’s Day into something God never intended. Evening worship guards the Lord’s Day from becoming just like any other day of the week” Jon D. Payne (ref#170).

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So, what about the Saturday evening service? How can we have the audacity to offer a Lord’s-Day service on Saturday? We can because JESUS CHRIST is Lord of the Sabbath.

“If Jesus were here today, he would say something like this: ‘If priests in the temple and pastors in the Christian church are permitted to work 16 hours on the usual day of rest, then the saints are permitted to worship one hour the day before. The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Come, learn what it means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’

“He would send us to consult the words of his apostle in Romans 14:5, ‘One man judges one day above another, while another man judges all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind.’ We can take this to imply that some think that all days qualify for the Sabbath. Some think that only Saturday qualifies. Others only Sunday. Do not condemn one another over these disagreements. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind” John Piper (ref#169).

If you attend Saturday night services, are you fully convinced in your own mind that this is the service you should attend? Remember, if you think it is a sin, it is a sin (James 4:17). John Piper, the author of the last quote also says, Saturday worship is NOT a replacement for Sunday Sabbath keeping (ref#169).

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

THE SABBATH – A UNIVERSAL OBLIGATION

“The law of the Sabbath was constituted a memorial of creation: and hence, the reason…must be considered as demonstrating its universal obligation. It is not a reason applicable to any one age, or to one class of men more than to another” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Exod 20:8-11]).

Keeping the Sabbath is not just a Jewish law; Exod 20:10 mentions that even sojourners who are staying with a Jewish family are expected to participate in Sabbath activities. Therefore it is a “universal institution…given to Adam, the father of all mankind” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Exod 20:8-11]).

As time moved on and GOD unfolded more and more of His redemption plans we find the Apostle Paul defining a new seventh-day Sabbath experience:

“The apostle Paul explicitly taught that a Christian should not allow himself to be judged in regard to the Jewish Sabbath, and that the Jewish Sabbath belongs with other Jewish observances concerning meat, and drink, holy days, new moons, and so forth (Colossians 2:16). These were the “shadow of things to come,” but the substance is in Christ (v. 17)” (ref#30, p155).

“…the Jewish Sabbath was not changed to the Lord’s Day. While both the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord’s Day are a literal keeping of the fourth commandment, they are not the same day, and they do not stand for the same idea. One belongs to the old creation, the other to the new. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Hebrews 9:11.)” (ref#30, pa55).

“…the observance of the Sabbath is…the hem and hedge of the whole law” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Exod 31:12-18]).

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

REASONS THE SABBATH IS DESECRATED

“The Christian attitude is, ‘The Lord’s will is my pleasure’” C. E. Hunter (ref#171). But, there are many ways to keep us from joy. “…the devil is in real earnest to accomplish the damnation of souls. To this end he must not let people think quietly on one day of the week” C. E. Hunter (ref#171).

We all agree we have too much on our plate weekdays. Does our “to do” list spill over into Sundays? Do we make some effort to not work on our weekday work on Sunday? And, if so, have we come to fill the day with things that we like to do that recharge us—gardening, golf, reading secular books, attending concerts, theaters, sports games, etc.? “These ways of spending Sunday are none of them of a holy tendency, or calculated to help us heavenward” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“The measure of your love for God is the measure of the joy you get in focusing on him on the day of rest” John Piper (ref#169). “…contend earnestly for the whole day against all enemies, both without and within. It is worth a struggle” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

SABBATH

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE SABBATH

“There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus. He alone satisfies the requirements of the Law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin. He is God’s plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works. We dare not reject this one-and-only Way of salvation (John 14:6). God’s reaction to those who choose to reject His plan is seen in Numbers 15. A man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, in spite of God’s plain commandment to cease from all labor on the Sabbath. This transgression was a known and willful sin, done with unblushing boldness in broad daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority. ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp”’ (verse 35). So it will be to all who reject God’s provision for our Sabbath rest in Christ” (ref#172).

“…whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10 NASB). The 10 Commandments are a “summary of fundamental duty; and…is binding on us all, in all its precepts alike, because they all alike are from God and publish His holy will” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).

“For most people the Sabbath command is really a demand to repent. It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed” John Piper (ref#169).

SABBATH

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod 20:8 ESV). The word “Remember” implies that it is well known and recognized” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Exod 20:8-11]).

“…our Lord and the writers of the New Testament treated the Ten Commandments as the embodiment…of the fundamental elements of essential morality, authoritative for all time and valid in all the circumstances of life” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).

“…these Ten Commandments…was delivered…and accompanied by thunder, lightning, and an earthquake. It was the only part written on tables of stone by God Himself.”…“I there read one whole commandment out of ten devoted to the Sabbath Day, and that the longest, fullest, and most detailed of all (Exod 20:8-11)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

The Old Testament Prophets recorded the importance of this command. They spoke of breaking the Sabbath as “the most heinous transgressions of the moral law (Ezek 20:13,16,24; 22:8,26)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167) and “one of the great sins which brought judgments on Israel…(Neh 13:18; Jer 17:19-27)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“Christ…kept the Sabbath religiously and taught His disciples…to keep it in its essential spiritual sense as ordained by God” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).

“I find Him speaking eleven times on the subject of the Sabbath, but it is always to correct the superstitious additions which the Pharisees had made…about observing it and never to deny the holiness of the day” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

Also, the Apostles kept one day a week as a Sabbath (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). They called it the LORD’s Day (Rev 1:10).

Even as Scripture defines yet unfulfilled prophecy the Fourth Commandment is mentioned: “’And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,’ says the LORD” (Isa 66:23 NASB).

How important is it? Bishop J. C. Ryle says, “…the Ten Commandments…is just as important to expound and enforce…as to preach Christ crucified” (ref#167).

SABBATH

TRUTH BE KNOWN

Truth be known, I find it life-saving to hear from GOD. Yet I find myself not interested in Him when life goes smoothly. It certainly is a knee-jerk reaction to handle life when I can handle it. However, when I perceive I need help I look to GOD.

Believing scripture when it says that GOD’s thoughts are not my thoughts (Isa 55:8), I must conclude that seeking GOD’s presence when I’m overwhelmed with a life situation may not be the only time I benefit from His presence. Indeed, it’s true all His commands are for my protection lest I injure myself living with only my thoughts.

I’ve concluded that I need GOD more often than I think I do. Yet, I forget that. So I am challenging myself this new year to explore His command of keeping the Sabbath. I have begun to examine scripture references and comments from SPIRIT-filled authors on the subject and conclude it is a VITAL part of spiritual growth.

“We may rest assured that national prosperity and personal growth in grace, are intimately bound up in the maintenance of a holy Sabbath” J. C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. One, p42, [Mark 2:23-28]).

Therefore, I am ready to learn more. So I shall put myself to the task of obeying this command publicly through this blog. Sundays I will blog information about the command and Mondays I’ll post a journal entry dealing with the results experienced communing with GOD.

“The Sabbath command is in fact a command to experience joy” John Piper (ref#169).