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).
SATURDAY NIGHT WORSHIP
“For those of you who are free in your conscience to extend your holy exercises…into Saturday night, let’s dream together of new ways to sanctify Sunday morning. Could it be that the Lord is leading you to new dimensions of prayer, or new hours of personal Bible study, or new deeds of mercy for the poor, or Sunday morning visitation to a shut-in, or perhaps a home evangelistic Bible study for neighbors who would not come to church but might come to your home” John Piper (ref#169).
“…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:
- Affectionate prayer…
- Our reverent and attentive hearing of the Word of God, either read or preached…
- Singing of the Psalms…
- …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).
A SONG FOR THE SABBATH DAY
“The proper work of the Sabbath is praising God” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]). GOD has blessed the Sabbath and we keep it holy by blessing Him (ref#18, [Ex 31:1-11]).
Our GOD shows forth His lovingkindness and faithfulness. “Being convinced of his glorious attributes and perfections, we must show them forth, as those that are greatly affected with them ourselves…” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).
“We cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s works, and therefore must reverently and awfully wonder at them, and even stand amazed at the magnificence of them….From a joyful remembrance of what God has done for us we may raise a joyful prospect of what he will do, and triumph in the assurance of it…” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Ps 92:1-6]).
“It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
your faithfulness in the evening,
You thrill me, Lord,
with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy
because of what you have done” (Ps 92:1,2,4 NLT).
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]).
ACTIONS TO IMPROVE KEEPING THE SABBATH
“The offence of Sabbath-breaking was one for which there could be no excuse….Transgression of it was therefore a presumptuous sin, and was punished accordingly” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Numbers 15:32]).
“In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore I warned them against selling food on that day. People from Tyre who lived in Jerusalem were bringing in fish and all kinds of merchandise and selling them in Jerusalem on the Sabbath to the people of Judah. I rebuked the nobles of Judah and said to them, ‘What is this wicked thing you are doing—desecrating the Sabbath day? Didn’t your ancestors do the same things, so that our God brought all this calamity on us and on this city? Now you are stirring up more wrath against Israel by desecrating the Sabbath’” (Nehemiah 13:15-18 NIV).
“The desecration of the Sabbath is first brought into prominence among the sins of the Jewish people by Jeremiah (Jer 17:21-27). It could not but have gained ground during the captivity, when foreign masters would not have allowed the cessation of labor for one day in seven. On the return from the captivity, the sabbatical rest appears to have been one of the institutions most difficult to re-establish” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Neh 13:15]).
“When evening shadows fell on the gates of Jerusalem before the Sabbath, I ordered the doors to be shut and not opened until the Sabbath was over. I stationed some of my own men at the gates so that no load could be brought in on the Sabbath day. Once or twice the merchants and sellers of all kinds of goods spent the night outside Jerusalem. But I warned them and said, “Why do you spend the night by the wall? If you do this again, I will arrest you.” From that time on they no longer came on the Sabbath. Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy….” (Neh 13:19-22 NIV).
Nehemiah “not only expressed his own dislike of it, but endeavored to convince them that it was a great sin….Those that are jealous for the honor of God cannot bear to see his Sabbath profaned” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]).
“If reformers will but put on resolution, more may be done towards the breaking of bad customs than they can imagine” Matthew Henry (ref#18, [Neh 13:15-22]). Are we willing to be reformers? Will we vow to not buy or sell on the Sabbath? Can we convince our local church to make that vow? Other churches? Our government representatives?
WE CAN BE HOLY AND ALSO HAPPY
“…remembering the Sabbath by keeping it holy is integral to…life as the people who are sanctified or ‘made holy’) by the Lord…” ESV Study Bible, (ref#125, p 196, [Ex 31:12-17]).
“…He [GOD] cannot compromise His holiness the least bit. His goal is to conform us to the likeness of His Son, and Jesus was completely without sin…(Heb 4:15)…we cannot…keep these commitments perfectly, but keeping them perfectly should at least be our aim” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p160).
“…men will never worship God with a sincere heart, or be roused to fear and obey Him with sufficient zeal until they properly understand how much they are indebted to His mercy…” John Calvin (ref#192, p161).
“…it is the continual reminding of ourselves of His grace and mercy that provides the only enduring motivation to sustain such a commitment and keep it from becoming oppressive. That is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves everyday” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p162).
“Many contemporary Christians seem to think that if they don’t study their Bibles, if they don’t familiarize themselves with the standards and principles God has given in the Bible, they will not be responsible for their sins committed in ignorance. Not so!…we had better become careful students of the revealed Word of God, for it is disobedience to His word that constitutes sin” Bob Deffinbaugh (ref#196).
Again, we can be roused to fear and obedience by recounting His grace and mercy as we conclude He keeps us because we cannot keep ourselves. Therefore a great Sabbath exercise is to list present sins then list the ways CHRIST pours out grace and mercy.
“We are being influenced by the forces of sinful society or we are being influenced by the word of GOD. There is no third option” Jerry Bridges (ref#192, p168).
THE SABBATH IS FOR PRAISING GOD
“Let my highest creature, the one in my image, stop every seven days and commemorate with me the fact that I am the creator….Let him stop working and focus on me, that I am the source of all that he has. I am the fountain of blessing. I have made the very hands and mind with which he works. Let one day out of seven demonstrate that all land and all animals and all raw materials and all breath and strength and thought and emotion and everything come from me. Let man look to me in leisure one day out of seven for the blessing that is so elusive in the affairs of this world” John Piper (ref#169).
THE SABBATH – TO REVIVE US PHYSICALLY
“The Sabbath is given as a gift to man (for physical…refreshment)” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1897, [Mark 2:27-28]).
“…this day…has been instituted in order that we might withdraw from all earthly anxieties, from all business affairs, to the end that we might surrender everything to God” John Calvin (ref#168).
“This day is a gift from God to be experienced as a delight and a joy—a day that shapes and frames your life, creates purpose, and structure and order and cohesion and a day that goes a long way to relieving panic ad stress” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon #2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath,” July 18, 1999).
“The Sabbath is good for man’s mind….The testimony of the famous philanthropist, Wilberforce, on this point is very striking. He declared that he could only attribute his own power of endurance to his regular observance of the Sabbath Day…he was satisfied that in every such case of mental shipwreck the true cause was neglect of the Fourth Commandment” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).
“The Sabbath is good for man’s body. We all need a day of rest. On this point…all medical men are agreed. Curiously and wonderfully made as the human frame is, it will not stand incessant work without regular intervals of repose” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).
THE INTENT OF THE SABBATH
“…actual intent of the Sabbath – to bring rest and well-being…” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1844, [Matt 12:8]).
GOD rested after creation:
“God entered into Himself again after He had created the world out of Himself, that all created things might enter into Him…and was designed by the strict prohibition of all work to force them to enter into themselves and occupy their minds with God and His word” Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (ref#68, [Isa 58:13-14]).
“God’s purpose for the earth is that it should become his dwelling place; it is not simply made to house his creatures….The concept of the earth as a divine sanctuary…runs throughout the whole Bible, coming to a climax in the future reality that the apostle John sees in his vision of the ‘new heaven and a new earth’…” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, [Gen 2:1-3]).
JESUS rested after redemption:
“Just as He rested after performing the ultimate sacrifice, He sat down and rested—ceased from His labor of atonement because there was nothing more to be done, ever….Jesus was sent so that we might rest in God and in what He has provided” (ref#172).
I rest in their accomplishments—my faith in them produces my rest. I rest by doing nothing but believing what they have done. The Triune GOD has done all the work. My Sabbath rest and consequent strength for the coming week is realized by a day-long dwelling in the Kingdom of GOD, going around His altar reviewing and proclaiming His mercies.
Seems the result of Sabbath rest is experiencing my faith strengthened—noticing more and more being ruled by GOD. Confirming the dependence on Him thrills my heart—realizing this is what I was created for and finding rest in it.
“In Thy Presence silence best becomes us, but love inflames our hearts and constrains us to speak” A. W. Tozer (ref#117, p6).