SABBATH

SABBATH BREAKING: WARNINGS FROM JEREMIAH

“When we devote ourselves to [God] service and worship, meditating on His excellency, magnifying and praising His mercy, and invoking His holy name, we then hallow this day and give unto God that which is God’s” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

The prophet Jeremiah was instructed by the LORD to warn the people (Jer 17:19-27).

“Thus says the Lord, “Pay attention for your own good, [and for the sake of your future] do not carry any load on the Sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer 17:21 AMP).

“…the ruin of the Jews attributed to the breach of the Sabbath; as this led to a neglect of sacrifice, the ordinances of religion, and all public worship, so it necessarily brought with it all immorality. This breach of the Sabbath was that which let in upon them all the water of God’s wrath” Adam Clarke’s Commentary (ref#15, [Jer 17:21]).

“Apparently the Sabbath day was kept negligently. The country people were in the habit of coming to Jerusalem on the Sabbath to attend the temple service, but mingled traffic with their devotions, bringing the produce of their fields and gardens with them for disposal. The people of Jerusalem for their part took (Jer 17:22) their wares to the gates, and carried on a brisk traffic there with the villagers. Both parties seem to have abstained from manual labor, but did not consider that buying and selling were prohibited by the fourth commandment” Barnes’ Notes (ref#16, [Jer 17:19-27]).

Do we today carry on business on the Sabbath? Do we advocate our wares on Facebook on Sunday? Or do we even advertise in church? For years I have made sure I had a few business cards in my notebook in case someone might ask me about my blog.

O FATHER, forgive us; the desecration of Your holy day starts so unintentionally. Forgive our nation’s sin for which we are partakers ever so innocently. We will most surely suffer Your wrath if You do not help us!

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SABBATH

REST IN GOD – KEEPING THE SABBATH HOLY

A good summary of the biblical principles of keeping the Sabbath holy is posted on the sabbathtruth.com web site (see the post below). I’d recommend this site for further study.

“…While this list of Bible principles on keeping the Sabbath holy is not comprehensive, it should help you as you search the Bible to learn how to be like Jesus and “do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” 1 John 3:22

  • The Sabbath is a day to cease our creating, working with the creation, and appreciate what God has done in the world and is doing in us. Genesis 2
  • The Sabbath is a time to lay our burdens down and rest. We should not do any servile work on the Sabbath. This includes our entire family, even our servants and beasts of burden and strangers who live among us. Jeremiah 17; Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5
  • The Sabbath is an holy convocation. We should meet and worship with others. Leviticus 23
  • We should be reverent and show God that we love, honor, and respect His authority. Psalm 89:7, Habakkuk 2:20
  • The Sabbath should be a day of delight and rejoicing, a day which we forsake our thoughts and words for God’s thoughts and words. Isaiah 56, 58
  • The Sabbath is a time of healing. Matthew 12, Mark 1, 3, Luke 13, 14
  • We are not to buy or sell on the Sabbath. Nehemiah 13
  • The Sabbath is a time to do good and visit and comfort the sick. We should do spiritual work on the Sabbath, serving others. John 5
  • The Sabbath is a time of prayer. Acts 16:13
  • The Sabbath is a time to reason with others about spiritual principles, and for ministers to teach the word of God. Acts 17:2, 18:4, 11
  • Elaborate food preparation is to be done on the day before the Sabbath so that there is no baking or heavy cooking on the Sabbath. Exodus 16
  • The Sabbath is a time for Singing. Ephesians 5:19-20, Colossians 3:16, Psalms 92 is called the ‘Sabbath Psalm’” (ref#173).

SABBATH

HOW THE SABBATH SHOULD BE KEPT BY BISHOP J. B. RYLE

“Ryle was a 19th-century Anglican pastor. He was born in 1816. When he died in 1900, he was relatively unknown outside the Anglican Church in Britain. But since Ryle’s death, his books have slowly grown in popularity. Writing a tribute to Ryle in 2002, J.I. Packer noted that Ryle’s books had sold more than 12 million copies and had been translated into at least a dozen languages; the numbers continue to climb….1 “A hundred years later,” wrote his biographer, “we can see that there were few more influential evangelicals in the Victorian era than Bishop Ryle.”2 Ryle was a contemporary of Charles H. Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody, George Mueller, and Hudson Taylor. When Ryle was 15, Charles Darwin graduated from Cambridge. His was the age of Dickens, the American Civil War, and a British Empire on which the sun never set” William P. Farley (ref#203).

“I propose,…to show the manner in which the Sabbath ought to be kept….My desire is simply to state what appears to be in the mind of God as revealed in Holy Scripture…One plain rule about the Sabbath is that it must be kept as a day of rest. All work of every kind ought to cease as far as possible, both of body and mind….Whatever, in short, is necessary to preserve and maintain life, whether of ourselves, or of the creatures, or to do good to the souls of men, may be done on the Sabbath Day without sin” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“The other great rule about the Sabbath is, that it must be kept holy. It is not to be a carnal, sensual rest, like that of the worshippers of the golden calf, who ‘sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’ (Exodus 32:6). It is to be emphatically a holy rest. It is to be a rest in which, as far as possible, the affairs of the soul may be attended to” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I see no harm in a quiet walk on a Sunday, provided always that it does not take the place of going to public worship, and is really quiet, and like that of Isaac (Gen 24:63). I read of our Lord and His disciples walking through the cornfields on the Sabbath Day. All I say is, beware that you do not turn liberty into license—beware that you do not injure the souls of others in seeking relaxation for yourself—and beware that you never forget you have a soul as well as a body” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I do not tell anyone that he ought to pray all day, or read his Bible all day, or go to church all day, or meditate all day, without…cessation, on a Sunday. All I say is, that the Sunday rest should be a holy rest. God ought to be kept in view; God’s Word ought to be studied; God’s House ought to be attended; the soul’s business ought to be specially considered; and I say that everything which prevents the day being kept holy in this way, ought as far as possible to be avoided” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I want every Christian to be a happy man: I wish him to have ‘joy and peace in believing,’ and to ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ I want everyone to regard Sunday as the brightest, cheerfulest day of all the seven…” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

SABBATH

THE SERIOUSNESS OF KEEPING THE SABBATH

“If you value your lives, don’t do any work on the Sabbath….” (Jer 17:21 CEV).

Take heed to yourselves; the Hebrew is, Take heed to your souls, intimating to us that the sanctification of the Sabbath is a great thing, where in the welfare of our souls is concerned” Matthew Poole (ref#112, p550, [Jer 17:21]).

“This message has life-or death consequences. The Sabbath is a day of ceasing from work, thus a time for physical and spiritual renewal and a gift to mankind” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1406-1407, [Jer 17:21]).

“Earth, spoiled of Sabbaths is a rapid road to hell” Henry Law (ref#214).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH COMMANDMENT COMMANDS US TO WORK

…NOTE: I hesitate to quote a single author extensively in this blog post but R. C. Sproul, Jr. writes such wise remarks I can’t resist. Consider reading every word carefully and if you want to read his entire article, see: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/rest-story/

“First, believe it or not, the Sabbath commandment commands us to work. “Six days shalt thou labor” isn’t an interesting prelude designed merely to set the context for the command to come. It is a command in itself. We’re supposed to be busy with the work set before us. We are to be passionately pursuing the kingdom of God. We are to recognize that we live in the not-yet of the kingdom. Not all enemies have yet been made a footstool. We have not yet fully exercised dominion over the creation. The reign of Jesus is not yet universally recognized. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “How does Christ execute the office of a king?” Its answer: “Christ executes the office of a king in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.” As we rule with and under Him, this is the work we are called to — seeking His kingdom, making manifest His reign.

“Second, as the Sabbath commandment moves to the day of observance, it does not command that we refrain from work — it’s far more profound: we are to rest. We think we are keeping the commandment if we refuse gallantly to do any of the work that is piling up and causing us to lose sleep at night. Instead, we are sinning. Rest isn’t just ceasing from working; it is also ceasing from worrying. It’s not easy. Indeed, in a manner of speaking, rest, especially ceasing from worry, is hard work. It takes discipline and fortitude to let go of all that has us worried.

“We have not succeeded if our worries are more pious, either. That is, we aren’t failing to keep the Sabbath when we worry about the big meeting at work on Monday, but successfully keeping it when we are worried about our persistent failure to mortify that particular sin that so troubles us. Worry is worry, and it has no place in our Sabbath celebration. The Lord’s Day is a feast day and should be treated as such” (ref#213).

SABBATH

MOTIVES

“The reason that so many people feel it [the Sabbath] as a burden is partly that we have so much leisure, we don’t feel the need for the Sabbath rest; but more important…is the fact that not many people really enjoy what God intended us to enjoy on the Sabbath, namely, himself. Many professing Christians enjoy sports and television and secular books and magazines and recreation and hobbies and games far more than they enjoy direct interaction with God in his Word or in worship or in reading Christian books or in meditative strolls. Therefore, inevitably people whose hearts are set more on the pleasures of the world than on the enjoyment of God will feel the Sabbath command as a burden not a blessing” John Piper (ref#169).

“God hath made it our duty, by His institution, to set apart this day for a special seeking of His grace and blessing….God is ready on this day especially to bestow His blessing on them that keep it aright….a time wherein God especially loves to be sought and loves to be found” Jonathan Edwards (ref#186).

“God blessed the seventh day…as an expression of His own joyful remembrance of that day and of the rest and refreshment that He had on it….But how much more reason has Christ to bless the day of His resurrection, to delight to honor it, and to confer His grace and blessed gifts on His people on this day. It was a day whereon Christ rested and was refreshed in a literal sense. It was a day of deliverance from the chains of death, the day of His finishing that great and difficult work of redemption, which had been upon His heart from all eternity; the day of His [vindication] by the Father; the day of the beginning of His exaltation, and of the fulfillment of the promises of the Father; the day when He had eternal life, which He had purchased, put into His hands. On this day, Christ doth indeed delight to distribute gifts, blessings, joy, and happiness, and will delight to do the same to the end of the world” Jonathan Edwards (ref#186).

SABBATH

PRIVATE LORD’S DAY ACTIVITIES

“The time for performance of individual and family religious duties is before or after church….Private Lord’s Day observance includes prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and follow-up teaching after church” John Owen (ref#176).

“The Sabbath must be a day of spiritual improvement—improvement which comes in…families having time around the Lord Jesus, His Word, and His purposes” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

Spiritual improvement comes from religious reading. (It’s possible to read through the Bible in a year by reading approximately 18 Chapters each Sunday.) Improvement also comes from secret prayer and holy meditation. (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

“Church history informs us that after their private devotions, the members of the family in primitive times met for united prayer, the reading of the Scriptures, the recital of doctrinal and practical sentiments and mutual edification generally. This indeed, to some extent, was done every day. Each day was also closed by similar devotions. But, the Lord’s Day abounded in them” William S. Plumer, (ref#183).

Another LORD’s Day suggestion would be praising God for His mercies. But, this and the ones above are only suggestions. Though our desire would be to have a list of steps to follow, there are many temptations present in simply checking off a list.

Trouble happens when we simply follow lists—no manner how good the list is. We can fall into the category of sacrificing instead of obeying—just acting and not feeling.

God’s Word binds us only to Him and to His Word. We are free in matters of faith and worship from every man-made list. CHRIST has purchased the right to be our only Master. (ref#165, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#: 2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).

So, we must ask Him directly. We should ask Him every Sabbath what our agenda should be for the day.

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 SERIOUSNESS OF KEEPING THE SABBATH

“…the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him” (Numbers 15:30-31 ESV).

While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation.  They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him.  And the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.”  And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the Lord commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32-36 ESV).

“This seems to be a case of sinning ‘with a high hand’—and publicly, too—so that the offender is actually executed, not just left to be ‘cut off’, which applied only when the offender escaped human detection. In this case it is clear that the man has sinned, since all work on the Sabbath is prohibited (Ex. 20:10)…The mode of his execution underlines the importance of observing the Sabbath” ESV Study Bible (ref#125, [Numbers 15:32-36]).

How serious about sin is GOD in His command we keep His Sabbath holy? Our nonchalant attitude about the Sabbath proves we are not concerned about being kicked out of GOD’s presence.

As with other situations in life we are tempted to think just time passing will again allow us back into His presence. So many things we let time heal. Can we do that with our sins? Can we do that with defaming the Sabbath?

SABBATH

WORK ON THE SABBATH

“Our Lord’s reply…’Though my Father rested on the seventh day from His work of creation, He has never rested for a moment from His providential government of the world, and from His merciful work of supplying the daily wants of all His creatures….I do not break the fourth commandment when I heal the sick, anymore than my Father breaks it when He causes the sun to rise and the grass to grow on the Sabbath’” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. Three, p277, [John 5:16-23]).

“…the Sabbath was not meant to be a day of total idleness, and of entire cessation from all kinds and sorts of work. ‘The Sabbath was made for man,’ for his benefit, comfort, and advantage” J.C. Ryle (ref#13, Vol. Three, p280, [John 5:17]).

“This Sabbath is kept holy…when men…are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy” Alistair Begg (ref#165, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).

“Works of piety are to be performed on the Lord’s Day, yea, on this day especially, as being the proper works of the day. And such are not only those that consist in the internal operations of the soul, as heavenly meditations and spiritual affections; but such also as consist in the external actions of the body, as oral prayer, reading of the Scriptures, and preaching of the Word” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

“Not only works of piety, but works of necessity—and of great convenience—may also be done on the Lord’s Day. And [these] are such without which we cannot subsist or not well subsist. Therefore, we may quench a raging fire; prevent any great and notable damage that would happen either to our persons or estates…without being guilty of the violation of this day…And not only those works that are of absolute necessity, but those likewise that are of great convenience may lawfully be done on the Lord’s Day: such as kindling of fire, preparing of [food], and many other particulars too numerous to be mentioned” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

“Another sort of works that may and ought to be done on the Lord’s Day are the works of charity and mercy….God prefers mercy before sacrifice….Works of mercy, therefore, are to be done even to beasts themselves, whatsoever labor may be required to the doing of them. How much more, then, [should we do] works of charity to men like ourselves! [This] charity is to be shown either to their souls or their bodies, for both many times are extremely miserable” Ezekiel Hopkins (ref#184).

JESUS is LORD of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). We will not break the Sabbath law if we follow His example of acting responsibly and compassionately.