Remembering the Sabbath Day As a Day of Rest
Last, but not least in the Larger Catechism’s look at the fourth commandment involves two questions that ask first of all about the enforcement of this portion of God’s statutes, and secondly why the law is not negative in its proscription, but positive in it what it asks men and women to do. I’ve noted before that if we come to the word with the attitude of “what can I still do and/or get away with and maintain fidelity to the requirement” then we are missing both the point of God’s law and the mercy to sinners offered in Christ. Rather than coming to today’s WLC with a grudging heart full of woe, what would happen if we Remembered the Lord’s graciousness in His character which the law of God reveals to us? As I’ve said before one of the unique blessings of the fourth commandment is that Jehovah doesn’t need to rest. He’s not a physical being with feet which tire. Nor does He get worn down by the anxieties natural to a fallen world. However, we do. Yet the Sabbath command was not given response to sin, but is what we call a “Creation Ordinance” meaning that just like marriage and work it is part of God’s good original intent for man, before Adam broke the covenant in the garden. Positivity goes a long way in helping us obey with joy the mercies evident in the word of the Lord.
Here’s today’s Q/A’s:
Q. 120. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: m from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it.
Q. 121. Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
A. The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment, partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it, and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments, and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it, for that there is less light of nature for it, and yet it restrains our natural liberty in things at other times lawful; that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it; and that Satan with his instruments much labour to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.
Remember is a powerful word in the Holy Bible. God remembers Noah in Genesis 8, and thereby delivers him from the flood, as He promised He would. David remembers the name of the Lord His God when danger was on the doorstep of Israel. Paul regularly calls on Christians to remember Christ’s sacrifice for their sins. In some sense each of those remembrances are unique, but what they have in common is that they are a means of encouraging the faithful to remain so in the face of enemies, either foreign or domestic. This is exactly what God intends with the fourth commandment use of the word. Every Sunday is meant for the worship of the Lord, and why do we worship Him? Because He made us, not only in the flesh, but in the spirit. We remember all that has been done our behalf in His grace. We remember that Jesus Christ rose from the dead for us. Sometimes people ask why I am so adamantly against the so-called church calendar. Not only do I see no biblical support for man-made seasons artificially placed over the year, but it complicates the simplicity of the Sabbath. How can one rest when so much work needs to go into helping God order His day? There is a Peter at the Transfiguration element to that kind of made up wisdom.
One of the aspects of this that the latter catechism question gets into is that busyness is not a twenty-first century invention. People have always been busy. We have a bad habit in our present situation to act as if things are new and without precedent. However, while the accidens might be different the reality is that there is nothing new under the sun. The Sabbath provides for us time that we desperately need to decompress. All of our gadgets have had the opposite effect they were intended to have. The blessings of having a mobile phone and being able to get into contact with people at any moment in some ways has been a monkey’s paw for society. It means we are never away from work, from family, from friends, from the news cycle, etc… Now more than ever we need the mercy of God in the Sabbath rest He has made for us. We can’t complain about not having time to have a break when we forsake what the Lord Jesus Christ has granted to us in the Lord’s Day. It’s like a person dying of hunger refusing to eat the food offered, choosing to starve rather than take on the bounty provided. It doesn’t make much sense. See the gift of the Sabbath and rest in it.
A word to close:
Blessings in Christ,
Rev. Benjamin Glaser
Pastor, Bethany ARP Church