May 7th, 2017
“Trusting the Beloved”
Aux Text: Mark 2:23-27
Call to Worship: Psalm 23
Service Orientation: God knows we need at least one day out of seven to remind us of who we are and Whose we are.
Bible Memory Verse for the Week: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30
- The basic command is, “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.” The word “Sabbath” (Hebrew šabbāt) derives from the verb šābat, “to stop, cease, rest.” Therefore rest–not working on that day–is a key aspect of this command, as we will see in verse 14. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 185)
- This is the only command in the Decalogue that starts with shamar (be careful). (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 186)
- The week has six days, each numbered accordingly, but the seventh day is called the Sabbath, and it was only this day that God blessed: “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it. . .” (Gn 2:3). The creation of physical things ceased; by sanctifying a “day,” spirituality was created on this, the seventh day. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 100)
- About the arrival of the people at Sinai we read in the Book of Exodus: “In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on this day they came into the wilderness of Sinai” (9:1). Here was an expression that puzzled the ancient rabbis: on this day? It should have been said: on that day. This can only mean that the day of giving the Torah can never become past; that day is this day, every day. The Torah, whenever we study it, must be to us “as if it were given us today.” The same applies to the day of the exodus from Egypt: “In every age man must see himself as if he himself went out of Egypt.” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 98)
- The other commands start with “You shall” or “You shall not” (the fifth command begins with “Honor”). Only this command and the next go on to say “as the Lord your God commanded you.” This command ends with the words, “Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (5:15). These are obvious means of stressing the importance of obedience to this command. Ex 31:15 says, “Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.” (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 186)
- It is, indeed, a unique occasion at which the distinguished word qadosh (holy) is used for the first time: in the Book of Genesis at the end of the story of creation. How extremely significant is the fact that it is applied to time: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” There is no reference in the record of creation to any object in space that would be endowed with the quality of holiness. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 7)
- When history began, there was only one holiness in the world, holiness in time. When at Sinai the word of God was about to be voiced, a call for holiness in man was proclaimed: “Thou shalt be unto me a holy people.” It was only after the people had succumbed to the temptation of worshiping a thing, a golden calf, that the erection of a Tabernacle, of holiness in space, was commanded. The sanctity of time came first, the sanctity of man came second, and the sanctity of space last. Time was hallowed by God; space, the Tabernacle, was consecrated by Moses. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 9-10)
- By the time of Christ, the Fourth Commandment–“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”–had become the unintended basis for exotic legalisms. To ensure that no work be performed on the Sabbath, 39 clarifications of work were devised, with each category capable of endless subdivision. One category forbade the carrying of burdens and hedged it with minute prohibitions for every situation. Anything equal to, or heavier than, a dried fig was declared a burden. So it was permissible to carry half a fig on the Sabbath, unless one put it down and picked it up, thus doubling the weight to a full fig and so breaking the Sabbath!
Similarly, if a person was in one place and extended his or her hand, which was holding a piece of fruit, into another place, and the Sabbath began at that moment, the person would have to drop it that instant. Otherwise he or she would be breaking the Sabbath by transporting a burden from one locality to another.
Happily, one could pick up a child on the Sabbath, provided the child’s hands were first examined to make sure they had nothing in them, for otherwise that would involve lifting a burden. Less happily, false teeth were not permitted on the Sabbath because they might fall out, and the poor denture-wearer would be tempted to pick them up, thus sinning against the Sabbath.
Another category prohibited travel on the Sabbath. So the rabbis defined a permissible Sabbath day’s journey as two thousand cubits (one thousand yards). To walk one inch further was an egregious breach of the Sabbath. However, if a rope was tied across the end of one’s street creating an eruv, then the legal fiction was that the whole street became a single house, and so one could walk one thousand yards beyond the rope. Interestingly, present-day Orthodox Jews have perpetuated the eruv by marking off areas of modern cities with symbolic “gateways” of thin wire stretched between tall, slender poles. Today there are eruvim in such cities as Los Angeles, Toronto, and Miami. The eruv that contains the White House dates from 1990.
One of the largest of the 39 categories dealt with guarding one against labor. Here, women were forbidden to gaze into a mirror on the Sabbath, because they might discover a white hair and be tempted to pluck it, which would be a grievous sin. While eating, a radish could be dipped in salt, but not left too long, since one would then be performing the labor of pickling the radish. Spitting was allowed on the Sabbath, provided one spit into his handkerchief or on the rocks. But it was unlawful to spit on the ground, because one might inadvertently scuff the spittle and the earth with his sandal, thereby plowing and cultivating the earth. So being a righteous person under this system depended more or less on which way a person spit! And so went the legalisms and abstruse rules ad infinitum–all to hedge the Sabbath. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 67-9)
- We must dedicate the day to God; we must not only “keep a Sabbath,” but “sanctify” a Sabbath. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 100)
- Most of the commandments are negatives, but this one is positive–“Observe the sabbath day”–and there is something basically wrong when it is turned into a day of prohibitions. It is worth pondering that this commandment is not clearly endorsed in the NT; indeed Paul even seems to put a question mark against it in Gal 4:9-11. It is important to take a balanced view of it. It is quite wrong to treat Sunday as if the other days of the week did not belong equally to God; it is quite wrong to make a fetish or an idol of the day; it is quite wrong to get our enjoyment of the day out of imposing irksome restrictions upon others (including, it may be, our own children). It is above all a day to enjoy, and to share with God. (David F. Payne, The Daily Study Bible Series: Dt, 41)
- First of all, the sabbath is a gift of God as much as it is a command (Ex 16:28-29). The Lord’s blessing of the sabbath is the provision of the sabbath as a gift for human existence. The sabbath belongs to the providential work of God in providing for the continuity of life. It is given to bless human existence. (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 81)
- Sunday is indeed a day of joy, but it ought also to be a day of feasting, though not necessarily at an elaborate meal. As Ignatius well said, “To fast on the Lord’s day is to kill Christ; but to rejoice in the Lord this day, and to rejoice in all the duties of this day, and to rejoice in that redemption that was wrought for us on this day, this is to crown Christ, this is to lift up Christ.” The Lord’s Day is for a joyous table with family and friends and the needy and the searching.
Finally, Sunday is a day for action rather than inaction. It is not a day for idleness. We do not honor the Lord’s day by doing nothing. It is a day to serve in the church, to teach, to counsel, to reach out to others, to evangelize. All this and more is to be part of Lord’s Day worship! (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 80)
- The Sabbath was meant to be a boon to man, not a burden; it was not a day taken from man by God in an exacting spirit, but a day given by God in mercy to man—God’s holiday to His subjects; all legislation enforcing its observance having for its end to insure that all should really get the benefit of the boon—that no man should rob himself, and still less his fellow-creatures, of the gracious boon. (A. B. Bruce; The Training of the Twelve, 92)
- A Sabbath observance regulated by the principle that the institution was made for man’s good, obviously involves two great general uses—rest for the body, and worship as the solace of the spirit. We should rest from servile labor on the divinely given holiday, and we should lift up our hearts in devout thought to Him who made all things at the first who “worketh hitherto,” preserving the creation in being and well-being, and whose tender compassion towards sinful men is great, passing knowledge. (A. B. Bruce; The Training of the Twelve, 92)
- Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week. (Alice Walker, “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens”)
- Mark 2:27: this familiar verse should not be interpreted to say that everybody is free to use or misuse the Sabbath as he thinks fit. But this saying of Jesus does make clear that the Sabbath is a gift and a blessing for man, and therefore something different from a legal regulation whose goal lies simply in a formal observance. The Sabbath was not designed to put people in a strait-jacket consisting of dos and don’ts, but the Sabbath was intended to be commemorated without burdensome hindrances. Just as with other commandments, Jesus blew the dust off the law, so here too in a very special way He restored the fourth commandment to its original beauty and luster. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 114)
- We must be impressed with the fact that the Lord attached great significance to obeying this particular commandment (e.g., Ex 35:1-3; Isa 58:13-14). This should not surprise us, because the Sabbath is called a sign of the covenant between Yahweh and His people (Ex 31:12-17; Ez 20:20). One could discern from the Sabbath that there was a covenant between the Lord and Israel. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 116)
- The Mosaic law did require a careful observance of the Sabbath, but knew nothing of an expanded casuistry. It speaks clearly of laying aside all daily work. Construction of the tabernacle had to be stopped (Ex 31:13-17). Plowing and harvesting were forbidden, even during the prime days for these activities (Ex 34:21); commerce and transport of goods likewise were forbidden (Amos 8:4-6; Jer 17:21). No household was permitted to start a fire for cooking or baking (Ex 35:3), and gathering firewood was also forbidden (Nm 15:32-36). (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 119)
- On one Sabbath, Joshua led Israel around Jericho seven times, after which this city collapsed (Josh 6:15-20). Apparently the Shunammite woman was accustomed, as we have seen, to visiting the man of God on the Sabbath (2 Kgs 4:23); that trip required her to travel more than twenty miles! The prohibition in Ex 16:29 that forbade Israel, en route to Canaan, from going outside the camp on the Sabbath was apparently not a perpetual regulation later requiring Israelites to stay at home. Pharisees later may have occupied themselves with the proper length of a “Sabbath journey,” but you will find no basis for that in the OT. Finally, we would mention that Jehoiada the priest did not hesitate to carry out his plot against queen Athaliah on the Sabbath, since this day provided the greatest chance of success (2 Kgs 11; 2 Chr 22:10-23:15). (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 120)
- At the same time it is evident that the fourth commandment contains principles which are applicable to all people. It recognizes the moral duty of man to worship his Creator for which stated times and places for worship are needed as well as surcease from the ordinary employments of life. It recognizes also the basic need of man for a weekly day of rest. Man’s history has demonstrated his need for the recuperation of his physical and mental energies once in every seven days as well as his need for a day of the week set apart for spiritual devotion and instruction. The Sabbath command provided for these needs of the ancient Israelites. (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Volume Five, 184)
- The duty to work for six days is just as much a part of God’s covenant with man as the duty to abstain from work on the seventh day. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 28)
- Israelites were to refrain from letting a Saturday be regarded as ordinary. The seventh day was to be a special day of the week. (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 70-1)
- The Sabbath commandment is the first of the Decalogue to be stated positively instead of as a prohibition. The text actually contains two commands: (1) observe the Sabbath and (2) work the other six days. The command apparently was given to Israel for three purposes. First, it recalled the week of creation and the pattern established by God in working for six days and resting on the seventh (cp. Gn 2:2-3). Second, it met the need of humanity for a regular periodic day of rest. Third, Sabbath observance set Israel apart as a special nation to God (see Ex 31:13). (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 71)
- It has been observed that the wife of the household is not mentioned. It may be that the omission is intentional to avoid the suggestion that this law applied to routine domestic activities. (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 71)
- The Sabbath was not primarily a day of assembly but of quiet, when all work associated with everyday life was to cease. (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 164)
- The seventh-day Sabbath was to be celebrated as a blessed day (Gn 2:3), set apart for all to “rest” and “to catch their breath.” (Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Dt, 165)
- The Sabbath is the culmination of a productive week, in which the nonproductivity can be appreciated only when it is preceded by creativity. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 117)
Sabbath vs. The Lord’s Day
- The change of the Sabbath from the last day of the week to the first was by Christ’s own appointment. He is “lord of the Sabbath,” Mk 2:28. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 95)
- The grand reason for changing the Jewish Sabbath to the Lord’s-day is that it puts us in mind of the “Mystery of our redemption by Christ.” The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but he has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. As it was said, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,” Hag 2:9. So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation. Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in saving us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Ps 148:5); in redeeming there was shedding of blood, 1 Pt 1:19. Creation was the work of God’s fingers, Ps 8:3, redemption was the work of his arm, Lk 1:51. In creation, God gave us ourselves; in the redemption, he gave us himself. By creation, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ, Col 3:3. By creation, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 96)
- In respect to the Fourth Commandment, Jesus’ declaration, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Mt 5:17), it most helpful. The fact that He did not come to “abolish” the Law emphasizes His continuity with the Fourth Commandment, while His intention to “fulfill” it emphasizes His discontinuity. He superseded the Sabbath Commandment by establishing the Lord’s Day. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 73)
- A word would be in order as to why most Christians have substituted the Lord’s Day for the Jewish Sabbath. There is ample evidence in the NT that the resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian gospel. This even occurred on the first day of the week. When events are mentioned in the record of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances, they always occurred on Sundays (Mt 28:1-9; Lk 24:1, 13-34; Jn 20:19-23). The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down to the church, again was a Sunday (Acts 2).
Quite early in the history of the church most Christians shifted their holy day from Saturday to Sunday. While we do not know the exact time for sure, we know that the trend was already evident in NT times. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 192-3)
- The Sabbath’s distinctive is rest, in cessation from labor; and the Lord’s Day distinctive is worship of the risen Lord. As Christians, worship is absolutely binding upon us as a matter of regular Lord’s Day observance (cf. Heb 10:25). As Christians, rest (cessation from labor), while it is not demanded, must be a matter for prayerful and humble application, as we shall see. (R. Kent Hughes, Disciplines of Grace, 78)
- In the NT the ritual elements of the Jewish Sabbath are superseded by the work of Christ and by faith in him. The Sabbath observance changed to the first day of the week, now called the Lord’s Day, to focus on the new life effected and epitomized by the resurrection of Christ Jesus. However, even now the observance of the Lord’s Day must subscribe to Col 2:16-17: “Therefore do not let anyone judge you. . . with regard to. . . a Sabbath day. . . the reality. . . is found in Christ” (cf. Jn 20:1, 19, 26; Acts 2:1; 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rv 1:10). (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Vol. 3, 56)
- The following points of agreement between these two days seem obvious.
Both days possess a special character. The Sabbath was connected either to God’s rest after His six-day work of creation, or to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Sunday is called the Lord’s Day, recalling the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Both days are feast days, since there is salvation to be commemorated. Deliverance from the slavery of Egypt, commemorated on the Sabbath, finds its extension and expansion in deliverance from the slavery of sin accomplished by the resurrection of Christ, commemorated on Sunday.
On both days, worship occupies an important place. The “holy assemblies” and the gatherings in the synagogue from former times are comparable to our modern church worship gatherings.
Just as the Sabbath was made for man, in order to rest up and to celebrate a feast, so too Sunday was made for man. The rest we may enjoy on Sunday and the liberation through Christ that we may commemorate are just as essential for the character of this day as they used to be for the Sabbath. OT rest was not disconnected from worship, and NT worship is not disconnected from rest. The accents may differ, but as far as the essential elements are concerned, there is surprising similarity.
There is similarity also in terms of the violation of Sabbath and Sunday. In every age there have been people enslaved to their work, people who cannot lay their work aside for a feast day. Whether we are talking about violating the Sabbath or violating Sunday, it makes no difference. Anyone unable to rejoice in God’s laws because he cannot surrender his own preoccupations has as much trouble with Sunday as with the Sabbath. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 121)
- We will see that the comments of Jesus and Paul on the Sabbath should make us cautious about insisting on strict rules for Sabbath-keeping for everyone. Because of this, different Christians will come up with different ideas of what it means to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 187)
- This command has resulted in some legalistic attitudes, and consequently some Christians have rejected it as not being relevant to us today, especially in view of some negative comments found in the NT. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 188)
- Paul seems to be even more negative than Jesus about what he saw of Sabbath observance in his day. He says, “. . . let no one pass judgment on you . . . with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath” (Col 2:16). This verse sums up his attitude to the Sabbath. The OT regulations about the Sabbath are no longer binding for Christians. To “observe days and months and seasons and years” was equivalent to returning to slavery (Gal 4:9, 10). What I learn from Paul is that we must be careful about making binding rules about the Sabbath and thrusting them on all Christians. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 189)
- In the early church, worship and not rest from work was the priority in the observance of the Lord’s Day. Sunday was a workday in the countries where most of the earliest Christians lived, and so they met for worship either early in the morning before going for work or in the evening after work. In Israel Christians would have had the Sabbath as their day of rest and Sunday as their day of worship. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 193-4)
The questions to be answered are . . . What is God’s will for us in observing the fourth commandment?
Answer: We are to take time together to honor God by contemplating Who God is, who we are, and what will one day be.
We live in a society in which the expression “Time is money,” credited to Benjamin Franklin, has come to refer to the importance of time. The only problem with this expression is that money cannot buy more time and cheapens the value of time. We forget that money can be replaced, but time cannot. We would be far richer as individuals and as a society if we were to say that “time is priceless.” Then we might treat it with more respect. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 97)
A freeway billboard sign was promoting the sale of a particular brand of watch. The catchy ad phrase was, “There’s no present like the time.” (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 97)
Time is a very precious commodity. You can’t take it back and start over gain. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. We’re all given fifty-two weeks a year to use, and every week contains seven days with twenty-four hours each. What are you doing with the time God has given you? Are you spending it the way He wants you to? Are you using part of it to rest in God, as He commands you? (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 84)
Our world has become the world of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland: “Now here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” (John C. Ortberg, “Taking Care of Busyness,” Leadership magazine, Fall 1998)
We keep reading more and thinking less. David Donald notes in his biography of Abraham Lincoln that Lincoln grew up with access to few books: the Bible, Aesop’s Fables, and a few others. Portions of these he read over and over, until, as Lincoln’s stepmother remembered, “he never lost that fact or the understanding of it.” His law partner said, “Lincoln read less and thought more than any man in his sphere in America.” (John C. Ortberg, “Taking Care of Busyness,” Leadership, Fall 1998)
The Word for the Day is . . . Rest
Observing the Sabbath, along with all the consequences of observing sabbatical years and Years of Jubilee, appeared to be a weighty mandate. For observing the Sabbath was clearly the proof of the pudding: Would God’s people keep the reins in their own hands, or would they confidently entrust their lives to the Lord? Someone who wants to keep control of his own affairs would experience the interruption of business on the Sabbath day as a hindrance. Observing the Sabbath day requires faith. Where faith is destroyed, the Sabbath is destroyed along with it. One who violates the Sabbath violates the covenant. For that reason, it is understandable that Sabbath violation could even be identified as the reason why Israel suffered calamity (Neh 13:18; Ez 20:13). (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 117)
103 Q. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
- First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publically, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.
Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.
(Dt 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor 9:13-14; 2 Tm 2:2; 3:13-17; Ti 1:5; Dt 12:5-12; Ps 40:9-10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb 10:23-25; Rom 10:14-17; 1 Cor 14:31-32; 1 Tm 4:13; 1 Cor 11:23-25; Col 3:15; 1 Tm 2:1; Ps 50:14; 1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 8 & 9; Isa 66:23; Heb 4:9-11) (The Heidelberg Catechism, 57)
The Perils of Activism: Or look at the activism of our activity. Modern Christians tend to make busyness their religion. We admire and imitate, and so become, Christian workaholics, supposing that the busiest believers are always the best. Those who love the Lord will indeed be busy for him, no doubt about that; but the spirit of our busyness is constantly wrong. We run round doing things for God and leave ourselves no time for prayer. Yet that does not bother us, for we have forgotten the old adage that if you are too busy to pray, you really are too busy. But we do not feel the need to pray, because we have grown self-confident and self-reliant in our work. We take for granted that our skills and resources and the fine quality of our programs will of themselves bring froth fruit; we have forgotten that apart from Christ–Christ trusted, obeyed, looked to, relied on–we can achieve nothing (see Jn 15:5). (J. I. Packer; Keep In Step With the Spirit, 98)
What is involved in observing the Sabbath?:
I- Honor God Who liberates. He is very good. (Dt 5:14-15; see also: Gn 1-2; Ex 16:23-30; 20:8-11; Isa 30:15; Ez 20:12-24; 1 Jn 3:19)
The Sabbath was a commemoration of liberation. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 112)
Just as God had rested after His work of creation, so too He now permitted Israel to rest, liberated as she was from the slavery of Egypt. The Sabbath day showed who Israel was: a people chosen and liberated by Yahweh, who could be assured of His providential sustenance of her life, sustenance that did not depend on her laborious exertion. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 116)
So the purpose of the Sabbath was to give the Israelites time to reflect, not on their works, but on God’s works. They were then to find refreshment in knowing that their physical needs were supplied not by their toil, but by the God who had created the universe and had given them life. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 103)
The Sabbath as a commandment was given by God to the Israelites as a reminder of God’s freeing them from slavery–as a reminder of God and the sanctity of human freedom. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 122)
The Sabbath is the time for taking “a time-out” from that which consumes us during the week. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 109)
A good rule for the Sabbath is to avoid any discussion of people’s jobs. It is neither a time to “network” nor a time to prepare for the work of the week. The Sabbath is the time to find meaning in the moment. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 109)
The Sabbath instructed all humankind that there is more to life than work. (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 71)
The Israelite Sabbath institutionalized an astonishing, hitherto undreamed-of notion: that every single creature has the right to rest, not just the rich and the privileged. Covered under the Fourth Commandment are women, slaves, strangers and, improbably, animals. The verse in Deuteronomy that elaborates on this aspect of the Sabbath repeats, twice, that slaves were not to work, as if to drive home what must have been very hard to understand in the ancient world. The Jews were meant to perceive the Sabbath not only as a way to honor God but also as the central vehicle of their liberation theology, a weekly reminder of their escape from their servitude in Egypt. (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
The Sabbath’s purpose was to grace God’s people—to grace their bodies with rest of the genesis rhythm—to grace their souls with Heaven’s rhythm, providing Israel with respite from their labors so they could focus on God and gratefully commemorate their gracious liberation. It was, indeed, the Fourth Word of Grace. And what joy it was to the righteous soul, as Isaiah sang:
“If you keep your feet from breaking the sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of you father Jacob.” The mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isa 58:13, 14) (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 72)
For hundreds of years it was firmly believed that only a Sabbath enforced through social legislation would keep society from sliding into a kind of unwitting slavery, protecting the vulnerable from the powerful and quashing the punitive obsessive-compulsive who lurks within us all. One of the bitterest public policy debates in 19th-century America, in fact, was over whether offering postal service and opening public institutions on Sundays would harm our national character and lead directly to barbarism. (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
Have you ever watched a play or movie only to be so preoccupied with other thoughts that you could not enjoy it? Have you not been able to make love to your spouse because your mind is consumed with worry and work? Have you pushed aside the insistent attempts of your children to talk because your mind is jammed with last-minute details? Have you not had the time to take care of your body and health because you are overwhelmed with scheduling conflicts? The Sabbath is the time for putting all mundane actions and thoughts aside so that we can live and appreciate the moment. The Sabbath experience is the great liberator from your fears of worthlessness without frenetic productivity. The Sabbath is spirit in the form of time (Heschel). (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 109-110)
“The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God;” as if God had said, The Sabbath-day is my due, I challenge a special right in it, and no other has any claim to it. He who robs me of THIS DAY, and puts it to common uses, is a sacrilegious person, he steals from the crown of heaven, and I will in nowise hold him guiltless. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 93-4)
The liberation from slavery in Egypt and the gift of a land of their own set Israel’s world of economic work in a totally new context. They would now work as free people, no longer in the indignity and insecurity of economic bondage. On that basis, they were to avoid oppressing and exploiting the weak and vulnerable in their own society. Hence the sabbath commandment is specifically for the benefit of the whole working population, animal as well as human (v. 14). (Christopher J. H. Wright, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Dt, 75)
There are a number of philosophical and spiritual implications of Sabbath recognition, appreciation, and observance, not the least of which has to do with not being enslaved but being free to pursue a godly life.
That is why the Sabbath was given to the Israelites immediately after the Exodus. To this group of ex-slaves the idea of a day of rest was not only enticing, it spoke to the essence of their being. For generations, they had toiled under the whips of the Egyptian taskmasters. Who would not be moved by a day of liberation in which all people could acknowledge the freedom granted by God? This is our freedom from servitude under human masters, the ultimate freedom of the human soul from oppression, toward its true purpose: to serve God. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 104)
Is it possible for a human being to do all his work in six days? Does not our work always remain incomplete? What the verse means to convey is: Rest on the Sabbath as if all your work were done. Another interpretation: Rest even from the thought of labor. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 32)
No tradition of Sabbath observance is found in any other ancient culture at this time. Israel needed to recall each Sabbath day how they were slaves in Egypt and were required to work constantly. Then God brought them out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and made them his own people. Such a mighty act of creation recalled his original creative work and emphasized their dependence on the Lord for everything. (Doug McIntosh, Holman OT Commentary: Dt, 71)
All the feasts of redemption in Israel had Sabbaths so that they could be reminded that every blessing of redemption did not come from the people’s toil, but from God. Therefore, rest and enjoyment come by reflecting on God’s finished work, not ours. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 103)
As gift, the primary character of the sabbath is rest. It places in the cycle of life a provision for freedom from the tyranny and oppression of unrelenting human labors, drivenness, and the increasing pressure of unceasing work. The sabbath commandment does not command work for six days; it assumes that human existence requires this hard labor. In the OT, hard toil is a necessary evil that participates in and grows out of the sinful propensities of humankind (Gn 3). Work has its reward, but only under the shadow and protection of the sabbath (cf. Pss 127 and 128 for negative and positive views of human toil). (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 81)
Now, for most of us Sabbath is first to be achieved in the practice of solitude and silence. These must be carefully sought, cultivated, and dwelt in. When they become established in our soul and our body, they can be practiced in company with others. But the body must be weaned away from its tendencies to always take control, to run the world, to achieve and produce, to attain gratification. These are its habitual tendencies learned in a fallen world. Progress in the opposite direction can only be made in solitude and silence, for they “take our hands off our world” as nothing else does. And that is the meaning of Sabbath. (Dallas Willard; Renovation of the Heart, 175)
The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Jeremiah’s prohibition in the Lord’s name against carrying a burden into the city gates of Jerusalem (Jer 17:19-22), this prohibition of daily labor, is quite different from prohibiting the carrying away of a sleeping mattress which the man who had been healed by Jesus could roll up with great joy! Those Pharisees who forbade that activity were destroying the festivity of the Sabbath. Their attitude robbed the Sabbath of its characteristic gratitude for liberation. Gratitude had to make way for precisionist obedience, freedom was replaced with a new bondage, and relaxation was ruined by a perpetually plagued conscience. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 118-9)
Nothing is as hard to suppress as the will to be a slave to one’s own pettiness. Gallantly, ceaselessly, quietly, man must fight for inner liberty. Inner liberty depends upon being exempt from domination of things as well as from domination of people. There are many who have acquired a high degree of political and social liberty, but only very few are not enslaved to things. This is our constant problem–how to live with people and remain free, how to live with things and remain independent.
In a moment of eternity, while the taste of redemption was still fresh to the former slaves, the people of Israel were given the Ten Words, the Ten Commandments. In its beginning and end, the Decalogue deals with the liberty of man. The first Word–I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage–reminds him that his outer liberty was given to him by God, and the tenth Word–Thou shalt not covet!–reminds him that he himself must achieve his inner liberty. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 89-90)
God provides for us every day, but there are festivals at harvest times to especially remind us that God is the one who provides for us every day. We are prone to take these basic things for granted; therefore we need special days with special emphases. Similarly by keeping the Sabbath day holy we remind ourselves that our lives belong to God and that every day is lived for God. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 186)
II- Reflect on what it means for man to be created in the likeness and image of God. Are we very good? (Dt 5:12-14; see also: Gn 1:26-27; 2:2-3; Ps 8:4-8; 139:13-18; 144:3; Rom 3:9-23; 8:28-30; Eph 4:24; Heb 12:10; 2 Pt 1:4; 1 Jn 3:2)
The Sabbath is the day on which we learn the art of surpassing civilization. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 27)
Pushing aside our perpetual concerns for physical survival, we turn to the bigger question of spiritual survival. By creating sacred time, we are motivated to explore these issues when we otherwise might not. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 106)
Observing the Sabbath has changed me from being a gerbil on an exercise wheel to a human being aspiring to “walk in God’s ways.” (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 108)
At the conclusion of all other days God says of the world “it was good,” but with the addition of humanity it becomes “very good.” Each Sabbath we are reminded of our potential for doing good. It is our re-creation each Sabbath that helps us acknowledge our role in bringing goodness to the world. We are the bridge between the worldly and the divine. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 108)
“After a week of perplexing problems and heated contest, it does so rest my soul to come into the house of the Lord and worship, and sing, and mean it, “Holy , Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” and to know that He is my Father and takes me up into His life and plans, and to commune personally with Christ. I am sure I get wisdom not my own, and a superhuman strength for fighting the morals evils I am called to confront. — Theodore Roosevelt.
The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 14)
The experience of the Sabbath is supposed to influence our beliefs and behaviors when we go back to work. The Sabbath is a reminder to take ourselves seriously, but not so seriously that we think we are God. In a world where we judge people for what they have done, we should learn from the Sabbath to judge them for who they are. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 124)
Our modern consumerist age is deluded to think that life consists of meeting our animal needs: eating, drinking, money, power, sex, and leisure. Charles Malik, at one time undersecretary-general of the United Nations, saw how badly this missed the real human need. In arguing for the inclusion of freedom of conscience and religion in the U.N.’s original Commission on Human Rights, he said, “All those who stress the elemental economic rights and needs of man are for the most part impressed by his sheer animal existence…This is materialism whatever else it may be called. But unless man’s proper nature, unless his mind and spirit are brought out, set apart, protected and promoted, the struggle for human rights is a sham and a mockery. (Charles Colson, The Good Life, 85)
Despite his gestures at rebellion, the “modern man,” as Lippmann called his professional and intellectual peers, was increasingly subject to…moments of blank misgiving in which he finds that the civilization of which he is a part leaves a dusty taste in his mouth. He may be very busy with many things, but he discovers one day that he is no longer sure they are worth doing. He has been much preoccupied; but he is no longer sure he knows why. He has become involved in an elaborate routine of pleasures; and they do not seem to amuse him very much. He finds it hard to believe that doing any one thing is better than doing any other thing, or, in fact, that it is better than doing nothing at all. (Walter Lippmann, A Preface to Morals) (Andrew Delbanco, The Death of Satan, 188)
The story told by the Sabbath is that of creation: we rest because God rested on the seventh day. What leads from God to humankind is the notion of imitatio Dei: the imitation of God. In other words, we rest in order to honor the divine in us, to remind ourselves that there is more to us than just what we do during the week. (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life–investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have with which to deal with life and to contribute. We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways: Physical (Exercise, Nutrition, Stress Management), Social/Emotional (Service, Empathy, Synergy, Intrinsic Security), Spiritual (Value Clarification & Commitment, Study & Meditation), Mental (Reading, Visualizing, Planning, Writing). (Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 289)
I maintain that the human mystery is incredibly demeaned by scientific reductionism, with its claim in promissory materialism to account eventually for all of the spiritual world in terms of patterns of neuronal activity. This belief must be classed as a superstition…we have to recognize that we are spiritual beings with souls existing in a spiritual world as well as material beings with bodies and brains existing in a material world. —Sir John C. Eccles
Continuous austerity may severely dampen, yet levity would certainly obliterate the spirit of the day. One cannot modify a precious filigree with a spear or operate on a brain with a plowshare. It must always be remembered that the Sabbath is not an occasion for diversion or frivolity; not a day to shoot fireworks or to turn somersaults, but an opportunity to mend our tattered lives; to collect rather than to dissipate time. Labor without dignity is the cause of misery; rest without spirit the source of depravity. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 17-8)
Sanctify the Sabbath by choice meals, by beautiful garments; delight your soul with pleasure and I will reward you for this very pleasure. (Rabba, Deuteronomy, 3, 1)
We’re made out of dust, and, as we noted earlier, even dirt needs to rest! (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 111)
III- Rest, and re-create by reflecting on what time it is and what it will one day become. It will be very, very good. (Dt 5:15; see also: Heb 3:7-4:13)
If the Sabbath is a this-world taste of the next world, then it is a time to demonstrate our highest values. Though it is difficult to always act virtuously, by removing many of the forces that cause us to respond with anger, resentment, pettiness, and other base attitudes, we acknowledge the potential of ourselves on the Sabbath. We learn that we can control these baser responses and become better people. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 126)
Observing a Sabbath gives you the opportunity to be in the moment, appreciate the deeper truth of existence, and enjoy the taste of eternity in every morsel of this holy day. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 109)
The Sabbath is a taste of the holiness of “the world to come.” It is a day when we are commanded to cease involvement in worldly efforts and concerns. It is a full day set aside to help you struggle with your petty, inner demons–to reconcile their power against what is offered you in a spiritual relationship with God. Holiness is timeless. To celebrate that beautiful truth every week is to help you focus your life the other six days on the concepts of meaning, character, and spirituality. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 98-9)
All week we may ponder and worry whether we are rich or poor, whether we succeed or fail in our occupations; whether we accomplish or fall short of reaching our goals. But who could feel distressed when gazing at spectral glimpses of eternity, except to feel startled at the vanity of being so distressed? (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 30)
“Renewal and restoration are not luxuries. They are essentials. Being alone and resting for a while is not selfish. It is Christlike. Taking your day off each week or rewarding yourself with a relaxing, refreshing vacation is not carnal. It’s spiritual. There is absolutely nothing enviable or spiritual about a coronary or nervous breakdown, nor is an ultrabusy schedule necessarily the mark of a productive life.” — Charles R. Swindoll
During the French Revolution, radicals abolished Sunday, but the found that the health of the nation suffered, and they had to reinstated it. The Russian Communists, on the theory that they had created a new man, instituted a much-ballyhooed ten-day week. But despite its super-workers (stakonovites), the new social order miserably failed. God’s rhythm is best for men and women because God created them. (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 71)
The Sabbath is a day of re-creation. The Sabbath is the time to re-create ourselves. By re-creating the seventh day of Creation, we return to our humble beginnings; from dust were we created. By refilling ourselves with God’s breath that brought Adam to life (Gn 2:7), we are born again each week, appreciating the newness of each day with its opportunities to grow in meaningful ways. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 108)
By and large, humans live in a “time paradox.” We must not focus on our mortality for fear that we will become obsessed with the notion every day could be our last. Aside from the potential neurosis, it could lead to a hedonistic lifestyle of immediate gratification. By not emphasizing the precarious nature of time, we sometimes don’t put the time into relationships or meaningful activities because we think that we will do it “tomorrow.” The time paradox leaves us with the dilemma of how to recognize and remember the precious and finite nature of our individual time, without stimulating “mortality anxiety,” with its potential to cause people to lose hope. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 98)
The sixth day of Creation was a busy one. The first Sabbath was the first full day of life for Adam and Eve. It marked the first time they went to sleep and woke up with the discovery, unlike the mayfly, which lives but a day, of a tomorrow. They discovered that life went on! Every Sabbath, like the first one, we should awaken with a deep appreciation of what it means to wake up and live another day. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 125)
We must keep in mind the distinction between the older understanding of recreation as re-creation and the modern pursuit of recreation. In broad strokes, today’s idea of recreation is a hedonistic pursuit of pleasure. It’s not re-creative but destructive.
The older, wiser way of re-creating is the way to go. Forget your regular labors, and re-create with conversation with family and friends. A common, unrushed meal around a table is so important. Especially re-creative are picnics, walks, swims, or playing with the kids, wrestling on the floor, shooting baskets with the boys. Listening to good music is also a marvelous way to re-create. A great “read” in one of the Christian classics is a time-proven way to restore the soul as well. (R. Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 83)
The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of living. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 14)
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of creation to the creation of the world. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 10)
What a travesty to choose the early service because it won’t interfere with the next ten hours of hedonism. Quick, get home from church, change, stuff the kids in the car, hoist in the cooler, shove in a Beach Boys tape, head for the beach, eat, watch the air show, eat, play a little football until someone gets banged up, eat, return home exhausted, and drift off into a brain-dead stupor, dreading Monday morning. Praise the Lord! (Kent Hughes; Disciplines of Grace, 81)
Meditation is the soul’s retiring within itself, that, by a serious and solemn thinking upon God, the heart may be raised up to divine affections. It is a work fit for the morning of a Sabbath. Meditate on four things.
(1) On the works of creation. This is expressed in the commandment, “The Lord made heaven and earth, the sea,” &c. The creation is a looking glass, in which we see the wisdom and power of God gloriously represented. God produced this fair structure of the world without any pre-existent matter, and with a word. “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made,” Ps 33:6. The disciples wondered that Christ could, with a word, calm the sea, but it was far more astounding with a word to make the sea, Mt 8:26. On the Sabbath let us meditate on the infiniteness of the Creator, Look up to the firmament and see God’s wonders in the deep,” Ps 58:24. Look into the earth, where we may behold the nature of minerals, the power of the loadstone, the virtue of herbs, and the beauty of flowers. By meditating on these works of creation, we shall learn to confide in God. He who can create, can provide; he that could make us when we were nothing, can raise us when we are low. “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth,” Ps 124:8.
(2) Meditate on God’s holiness. “Holy and reverend is his name,” Ps 109:9. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil,” Hab 1:13. God is essentially, originally, and efficiently holy. All the holiness in men and angels is but a crystal stream that runs from this glorious fountain. God loves holiness because it is his own image. . .
(3) Meditate on Christ’s love in redeeming us, Rv 1:5. Redemption exceeds creation; the one is a monument of God’s power, the other of His love. Here is a work fit for Sabbath. Oh, the infinite stupendous love of Christ in raising poor lapsed creatures from a state of guilt and damnation! . . . The Jews did not so much thirst for his death, as he thirsted for our redemption. “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished?” Lk 12:50. He called his sufferings a baptism; he was to be baptized and sprinkled with his own blood; and he thought the time long before he suffered. To show Christ’s willingness to die, his sufferings are called an offering. “Through the offering of the body of Jesus,” Heb 10:10. His death was a freewill offering. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 102-4)
(4) On a Sabbath morning meditate on the glory of heaven. Heaven is the extract and essence of happiness. It is called a kingdom, Mt 25:34. A kingdom for its riches and magnificence. It is set forth by precious stones, and gates of pearl, Rv 21:19, 21. There is all that is truly glorious; transparent light, perfect love, unstained honor, unmixed joy; and that which crowns the joy of the celestial paradise is eternity. Suppose earthly kingdoms were more glorious than they are, their foundations of gold, their walls of pearl, their windows of sapphire, yet they are corruptible; but the kingdom of heaven is eternal; those rivers of pleasure run “for evermore” Ps 16:11. That wherein the essence of glory consists, and makes heaven to be heaven, is the immediate sight and fruition of the blessed God. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 105-6)
In 1965 a testimony before a Senate subcommittee claimed the future looked bright for free time in America. By 1985, predicted the report, Americans would be working 22 hours a week and would be able to retire at age 38.
The reason? The computer age would usher in a gleaming array of advances that would do our work for us while stabilizing our economy.
Take the household, they cited. Microwaves, quick fix foods, and food processors will pave the way into the carefree future. And the office? Well, you know that old stencil machine? It’ll be replaced by a copier. And the files? Computers are the files of the future. And that electric typewriter? Don’t get too attached to it; a computer will do its work, too.
And now, years later, we have everything the report promised. The computers are byting, the VCRs are recording, the fax machines are faxing. Yet the clocks are still ticking, and people are still running. The truth is, the average amount of leisure time has shrunk 37% since 1973. The average work week has increased from 51 to 57 hours. (And, for many of you, 47 hours would be a calm week.)
Why didn’t the forecast come true? What did the committee overlook? They misjudged the appetite of the consumer. As the individualism of the sixties led to the materialism of the eighties, the free time gained for us by technology didn’t make us relax; it made us run. Gadgets provided more time…more time meant more potential money…more potential money meant more time needed…and round and round it went. Lives grew louder as demands became greater. And as demands became greater, lives grew emptier. (Max Lucado, The Applause of Heaven, 16-17)
“Fred Mitchell, a leader in the world missions, used to keep a motto on his desk that read, ‘Beware of the Barrenness of a Busy Life.’” (Gordon MacDonald; Ordering Your Private World, 17-8)
IV- We are to worship and fellowship in community as it is never good to be alone. Community is very good. (Gn 2:18; Acts 2:42; Rom 12:3-16; 1 Cor 12-14; Eph 4:1-16; Heb 10:25)
Speak of the sermons as you sit together; which is one part of sanctifying the Sabbath. Good discourse brings holy truths into our memories, and fastens them upon our hearts. “Then they that feared the Lord, spake often one to another,” Mal 3:16. There is great power and efficacy in good discourse. “How forcible are right words!” Job 6:25. By holy conference on a Sabbath, one Christian helps to warm another when he is frozen, and to strengthen another when he is weak. Latimer confessed he was much furthered in religion by having conference with Mr. Bilney the martyr. “My tongue shall speak of they word,” Ps 119:173. One reason why preaching the word on a Sabbath does no more good is because there is so little good conference. Few speak of the word they have heard, as if sermons were such secrets that they must not be spoken of again, or as if it were a shame to speak of that which will save us. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 116-7)
If saints would be persuaded to spend more time and take more pains about their hearts, there would soon be such a divine excellence in their conversation that others would account it no small privilege to be with or near them. It is the pride, passion and earthliness of our hearts, that has spoiled Christian fellowship. Why is it that when Christians meet they are often jarring and contending, but because their passions are unmortified? Whence come their uncharitable censures of their brethren, but from their ignorance of themselves? (John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 115)
On the Sabbath, when ideally all meals are shared as a family, with all the time in the world, parents have the opportunity to get into a new routine of really talking to and, maybe even more important, listening to their children. The Sabbath routine affords the opportunity to establish communications that may sadly be unparalleled during the week. The practice and focus of Sabbath family time gives you the opportunity to make communications and bonding an everyday event. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 113)
When our children see that we give so little of our time and attention to them, that we focus most of our energy and effort on our “work”–what do they think is most important in life and to us? How will they learn about commitment to people over things and success? The time we apportion to things is our declaration of their importance in general as well as to us. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 114)
Many people who consider themselves religious feel they can be religious and/or feel God’s presence without going to communal worship services. It is absolutely true that private times of prayer, study, and contemplation are significant and essential vehicles of spirituality. Although solitary worship does have its place, it should not exclude the importance of communal religious experiences, which remind us that, as important as it is to feel God’s presence in our lives, making God’s presence felt in the world is even more so. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 118)
As soon as you regard yourself as part of a community, all egotism, which knows only itself, is banished. When functioning within a group, you are reminded of your need for concern and action for the welfare of others. Without that attention, your spirituality becomes a dead end in itself rather than a motivator for bringing and doing good for the world. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 118-9)
Community worship is an antidote to self-centeredness. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 119)
We will want to spend Sundays as much as possible among brothers and sisters in the faith. Sunday is a feast day that keeps us away from the company of those who do not celebrate the feast with us. This is why it is unthinkable for someone to celebrate Sunday and at the same time voluntarily mingle in public among those who are strangers to God, as in a football stadium or on the beach or in a shopping mall. Sunday is a day for the communion of the saints, and for that reason we avoid situations where we would feel isolated as a believer. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 150)
The Sabbath day, spent with community and family in study, prayer, discussion, and peace, reminds us how we should regulate and perfect our spiritual, intellectual, physical, domestic, and social behaviors. Observing the Sabbath reminds and instructs us to sanctify our lives, the way God sanctified the Sabbath day. The commandments don’t limit our freedom; they give us distinct guidance toward holiness and, therefore, meaningfulness for our lives. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 101)
Christians need to understand that keeping the Sabbath really does create a more moral climate in our culture. It promotes an awareness that God and His ways and His laws are important to us all. Without public morality, our secular laws have less meaning, with the result that lawlessness rises and our nation sinks into crime, fear, disorder, and injustice. (D. James Kennedy, God’s Absolute Best For You, 86)
This gives us the opportunity to contemplate the merits of our contribution to others and the world–it is about resetting our spiritual clock. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 105)
As Lee Iacocca points out, no one says on their deathbed, “I wish I had spent more time with my business.” (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 125)
V- Trust God and submit to Him so He can make us into what He created and designed for us to be. Very good. (Dt 5:15; see also: Rom 8:28-30; 1 Cor 15:32-53; Col 3:4; Phil 3:21; 1 Jn 3:2)
God intended that we spend quiet time with Him and ask questions such as these: “Are all these things I’m involved in ‘good’ in Your sight, Lord? Are they the best I could do with what You’ve given me? Am I doing these things in my own strength, Lord, or are You truly with me? Am I hearing Your voice? Am I following Your lead? Am I leaning on Your wisdom? Are these the sorts of things that will be burned up as wood, hay, and stubble in Your presence at the end of time, or will they truly endure into eternity?” (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 117-8)
James says that not believing in the sovereign rights of God to manage the details of your future is arrogance. The way to battle this arrogance is to yield to the sovereignty of God in all the details of life, and rest in his infallible promises to show himself mighty on our behalf (2 Chr 16:9), to pursue us with goodness and mercy every day (Ps 23:6), to work for those who wait for him (Isa 64:4), and to supply us with all we need to live for his glory (Heb 13:21). In other words, the remedy for pride is unwavering faith is future grace. (John Piper, Future Grace, 93)
For the wise men of old, the cardinal problem of human life was how to conform the soul to objective reality; and the solution was wisdom, self-discipline and virtue. For the modern man, the cardinal problem is how to subdue reality to the wishes of man, and the solution is a technique. (C. S. Lewis The Abolition of Man)
When we reflect on all we’ve accomplished in a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime, can we say, “It is good”?
If you can’t–if you can’t reflect on your life, your home, your family, your labors, and speak those three words, maybe the reason is because you have done it. It’s been your work, not God’s. It’s been your agenda. It’s been your game plan. You have lived life on your own terms. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 117)
Believers who have not learned to rest in God need work to keep them from seeing the emptiness of their lives. They go on working without rest, first, because they have not come to understand the beauty of trusting totally in the God who works for them, and, second, because they are afraid of silence, for silence forces them to face up to who they really are. Those who do not take Sabbath rest should ask whether there is something seriously wrong in their lives. Are they getting from work the satisfaction they should be getting from God? “Much of our busy activity is little more than a cheap anesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.” (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 191-2)
On the other hand there are those for whom work has become the alpha and omega of their existence. Only in their work do they find meaning. Only in the things that their work provides do they discover personal significance. For them work is not an act of worship unto the Lord. Rather, work is what they worship, and the products of that work are the idols before which they bow. They are not working out of any sense of being created in the divine image or of producing something that will glorify God and benefit the community. They’re working because work is their only reason for being, and the money their work provides gives them the things that they crave—the symbols of prestige, the status, the preferential treatment, the shortcuts to where they want to go, the shields against life’s unpleasantness. The “best” of everything. It is purely self-oriented, and it often leads them to neglect spouse and family and leisure and worship and voluntary service. (Stuart Briscoe; Choices for a Lifetime, 138)
Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul. The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else. Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 13)
A conscientious keeping of the Sabbath seasons the heart for God’s service all the week after. Christian, the more holy thou art on a Sabbath, the more holy thou wilt be on the week following. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 122)
The Sabbath is not about time off; it is about sacred time. “What is so luminous about a day? What is so precious to captivate the hearts? It is because the seventh day is a mine where spirits’ precious metal can be found with which to construct the palace in time, a dimension in which the human is at home with the divine; a dimension in which man aspires to approach the likeness of the divine” (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath). (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 126)
The Sabbath-day is for our interest; it promotes holiness in us. The business of week-days makes us forgetful of God and our souls: the Sabbath brings him back to our remembrance. When the falling dust of the world has clogged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections, and they move swiftly on. God has appointed the Sabbath for this end. On this day the thoughts rise to heaven, the tongue speaks of God, and is as the pen of a ready writer, the eyes drop tears, and the soul burns in love. The heart, which all the week was frozen, on the Sabbath melts with the word. The Sabbath is a friend to religion; it files off the rust of our graces; it is a spiritual jubilee, wherein the soul is set to converse with its Maker. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 94-5)
Isaiah denounced the formalistic Sabbath observance of his time (1:12, 13), and defined true Sabbath-keeping as turning from one’s own ways and from one’s own pleasures, and taking delight in the LORD (58:13, 14). Other prophets raised their voices in protest against the abuse of the Sabbath (Jer 17:21, 22; Ezek 22:8; Amos 8:4). They regarded the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the Jews as due, at least in part, to the desecration of the Sabbath (Jer 17:27; Ezek 20:23, 24). Hosea predicted that God would make Israel’s Sabbaths to cease because of her unfaithfulness (Hos 2:11); but that this cessation of Sabbath observance was not meant to be permanent is made clear by Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isa 66:23; Ezek 44:24). (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Volume Five, 185)
More genuine harm has been done by the neglect of busy people than by the actions of evil people. (Steve Brown message “Invitation to a Party” from Mt 22:1-14 )
“Somewhere John Wesley is quoted as saying of life in his public world, ‘Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry, because I never undertake more work than I can go through with calmness of spirit.’” (Gordon MacDonald; Ordering Your Private World, 179)
A friend of the great preacher Phillip Brooks, called on him and found him impatiently pacing the floor. His friend asked what the trouble was. Dr. Brooks exclaimed, “The trouble is that I am in a hurry, and God is not!”
Worship Point: Give honor, praise, glory and worship to the God of the Universe Who loves us enough to encourage us to take 14.28571% of our time to realize Who He is and who we are and what will one day be.
Jesus was not disputing the Sabbath principle. He was attacking the legalistic way in which it was applied by the Jewish people in his day, so that humanitarian concerns were not given due weight. We need to take a day of rest, and God seems to think that doing that one day in seven is the ideal thing. We can look at this day in a positive light–especially because it is given as a positive command unlike most of the other commands. Philip Graham Ryken’s explanation is helpful: “. . . it is a day for relaxation and recuperation, a day to step back from life’s ordinary routines in order to rediscover God’s goodness and grace.” (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 189)
Lord I’m too busy to worry about the concerns of my heart” — Steve Childers
Don’t ever become so busy that you fail to realize how very happy you are! — Kathryn Hillen
We spend the week trying to understand the mysteries of the universe through science. We perform new engineering feats, we open the mysteries of the atom, and we search the heavens and the earth for signs of life. On the Sabbath we search for the essence of God. Shabbat is the antidote to the tendency toward self-idolatry. On this day, we are reminded that God is God. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 124)
At worship we meditate on God’s goodness and praise him and thank him for it. We hear his Word read and preached, and we learn how to live in a way that is more pleasing to him. We present our petitions to him and intercede on behalf of others and thus affirm that we rely on him for protection, sustenance, and blessing. We respond to what we hear through fresh acts of commitment. So worship affirms the lordship of God over our lives, making it a most appropriate way to keep the Sabbath holy to the Lord. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 186-7)
If life is like a downhill bike ride in which speed increases and becomes increasingly difficult to stop, the Sabbaths are regularly scheduled stop signs that bring us to a halt, making time pass a little bit slower so that we might appreciate it more. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 107)
It is a sin to be sad on the Sabbath day. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 31)
Gospel Application: Jesus is the fulfilment of everything to which the Sabbath points. We can rest in Jesus if we trust Him. (Dt 25:19; Ps 16:9; 62:1, 5; Isa 32:9-20; Mt 11:28-12:13; Lk 13:14-16; Col 2:16; Heb ch. 3 & 4)
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. . .You will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:28, 29). By dying on a cross as our substitute, Jesus “forgave us all our sins” and “canceled the written code that was against us and that stood opposed to us.” Because he died for us, we aren’t obligated any longer to observe an OT Sabbath day. Together with other OT regulations, the Sabbath was “a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:13, 14, 17). One NT believer may consider one day of the week more sacred than another; another NT believer may consider every day alike. “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5). (Mark E. Braun, The People’s Bible: Dt, 64)
At the end of his great act of creation the Lord said, “It is finished,” and he could rest. On the cross at the end of his great act of redemption Jesus said, “It is finished”–and we can rest. On the cross Jesus was saying of the work underneath your work–the thing that makes you truly weary, this need to prove yourself because who you are and what you do are never good enough–that it is finished. He has lived the life you should have lived, he has died the death you should have died. If you rely on Jesus’ finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you. You can be satisfied with life. (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 43)
Setting apart one day regularly to the Lord inhibits the human inclination to justify oneself by job or work. The sabbath is a concrete symbol that God’s saving grace is what redeems human life rather than any or all work. The sabbath is a regular time to stop striving and reaching, to stop trying to justify oneself before God and everybody else; it is a time to remember having been set free and accepted in the ultimate sense and to know that the chief end of life is not found in any human work or accomplishment but only in glorifying and enjoying God. As such, the sabbath is an implicit but important pointer toward the reality of justification by faith (Winn). (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 82-3)
For two thousand years Israel’s priests offered atoning sacrifices for sin. The Bible describes in intricate detail the altar, candlesticks, robes, curtains, laver, and tables involved in the temple ceremonies. However, there is no description of a chair for the priests. They did not sit down, because their work was never done. But when Jesus acted as our great High Priest, offering his body in sacrifice for our sin, no other sacrifice would be needed, and so he sat down. His posture signals that his work in finished. Now we can rest in his finished work, with no need to offer additional sacrifices for our wrong. (Bryan Chapell; Holiness by Grace, 163)
Have you not learned that lesson of despair yet? Is it necessary for the Holy Spirit to make you despair again? Why not have one good despair and get it all over? Why despair every few days? Only because you are still hunting round for something somewhere, some rage of goodness in yourself that you can present to God that will please Him, satisfy Him and answer to His requirements. You will never find it. Settle it that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Our righteousness, all that trying to be so righteous, the Lord says of it all, “Filthy rags!” Let us settle this once for all. If you are looking ahead of what I am saying, you will see what it is leading to. It is leading to the most glorious position. It is leading to that glorious issue mentioned by the Lord Jesus in this way, in those days before things became inward: “Learn of me…and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” That is the end. But we shall never find rest unto our souls until we have first of all learned the utter difference between Christ and ourselves, and then the utter impossibility of our ever being like Him by anything that we can find in ourselves, produce or do. It is not in us, in ourselves, in that way. (T. Austin-Sparks; The School of Christ, 14)
“Did Christ finish His work? How dangerous it is to join anything of our own to the righteousness of Christ, in pursuit of justification before God! Jesus Christ will never endure this; it reflects upon His work dishonorably. He will be all, or none, in our justification. If He has finished the work, what need is there of our additions? And if not, to what purpose are they? Can we finish that which Christ Himself could not complete? Did He finish the work, and will he ever divide the glory and praise of it with us? No, no; Christ is no half Savior. It is a hard thing to bring proud hearts to rest upon Christ for righteousness. God humbles the proud by calling sinners wholly from their own righteousness to Christ for their justification. — John Flavel
It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self: to Jesus: but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.” Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him. Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you. —Charles. H. Spurgeon (Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom, 228-9)
The command to keep the Sabbath day is the only one of the Ten Commandments that the NT does not require of Christians. By His grace, Jesus Christ gives every believer in Him a jubilee liberation that is perfect, final, and eternal. A Christian therefore does not violate the Sabbath when he works on the Lord’s Day but when he persists in self-righteous works in the presumptuous hope of adding to what the Savior has already accomplished. (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 16-23, 24)
The apostle Paul regarded the law as a yoke of bondage from which the Christian had been set free (Gal 5:1). In his “revolt against external law” (P. Cotton, From Sabbath to Sunday, 11), Paul made no distinction between moral and ceremonial law. It was all a part of that old covenant which was done away in Christ (2 Cor 3:14). The Sabbath is definitely included in “the bond which stood against us with its legal demands,” which, Paul declares, God canceled and set aside, “nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:14). It is mentioned along with festivals and new moons, all of which are declared to be “only a shadow of what is to come” (2:16, 17). To “observe days, and months, and seasons, and years” is to be slaves to “the weak and beggarly elemental spirits” (Gal 4:9, 10; cf. Col 2:20). The observance of days is a characteristic of “the man who is weak in faith” (Rom 14:1-5).
Paul provides no grounds for imposing the Heb. Sabbath on the Christian. The Christian is free from the burden of the law. The Spirit of Christ enables him to fulfill God’s will apart from external observance of the law’s demands. The author of Hebrews likewise speaks of the Heb. Sabbath only as a type of “God’s rest,” which is the inheritance of all the people of God (Heb 4:1-10). He does not tell his readers to keep the Sabbath, but rather urges them to “strive to enter that rest” (4:11). (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Volume Five, 186-7)
But as soon as the writer of Hebrews notes the existence of God’s rest from creation and the call to men to enter God’s rest with him, he reminds us of the words, “They shall never enter my rest.” In other words, God’s rest was complete from the beginning of the world. Man was called to enter that rest with God from the seventh day of creation. Yet because of sin, rebellion, hardness of heart, and unbelief, men did not enter in. Men have come short of God’s rest because of the Fall. (Walter Chantry, Call the Sabbath a Delight, 91)
When Jesus was with the Pharisees on the Sabbath he said, “I am not just someone who can instruct you to take rest; I am rest itself.” Now by his actions here Jesus is demonstrating, “I am not just someone who has power, I am power itself. Anyone and anything in the whole universe that has any power has it on loan from me.” (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, 52)
Spiritual Challenge: Take time to be holy. Not just quality time; but real time. Make the most out of every Sabbath.
For every other feast day in our life experience, we prepare ourselves and get things ready ahead of time. We should do that for Sunday, too. For that reason we begin already on Saturday to prepare for Sunday, so that we can sit in church well rested and ready. (J. Douma, The Ten Commandments, 150)
We always have too much to do and not enough time to do it. But let’s make sure that there is at least one day a week when we have extended time with Him. Because if we don’t resolve it in our minds and write it on our calendars, the world will quickly swallow that time. Before we know it, the alarm clock will be ringing on Monday morning, and the opportunity will be lost. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 121)
Ours is a society that pegs status to overachievement; we can’t help admiring workaholics. Let me argue, instead, on behalf of an institution that has kept workaholism in reasonable check for thousands of years.
Most people mistakenly believe that all you have to do to stop working is not work. The inventors of the Sabbath understood that it was a much more complicated undertaking. You cannot downshift casually and easily, the way you might slip into bed at the end of a long day. As the Cat in the Hat says, ”It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.” This is why the Puritan and Jewish Sabbaths were so exactingly intentional, requiring extensive advance preparation–at the very least a scrubbed house, a full larder and a bath. The rules did not exist to torture the faithful. They were meant to communicate the insight that interrupting the ceaseless round of striving requires a surprisingly strenuous act of will, one that has to be bolstered by habit as well as by social sanction. (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
But please remember this: the path to Sabbath rest will always be a contested path. Haven’t you ever wondered why it seems so incredibly difficult to find these times with God in our life? Why it seems like such a chore to simply pick up your Bible or get down on your knees to pray? The enemy knows this path to the Sabbath will lead you to rest and righteousness and perspective and a reordering of your priorities. And Satan will try to thwart you. He doesn’t want you to find that path. Never doubt it! He has a thousand ways to sidetrack and divert you. (Ron Mehl, The Ten(der) Commandments, 122)
The Sabbath is not a day–it is a life-changing attitude. By reflecting on who He is and what He has done, our spirits will be so refreshed that when we return to our workaday world and all of its pressures, we can continue to rest in Him. That is the Sabbath. (John C. Maxwell, The Preacher’s Commentary, Dt, 105)
The Sabbath provides a day of unrushed activity in which individuals cannot say “I don’t have time for prayer and study because I have something else to do.” Prayer and even study are ways of experiencing God, but people make excuses, especially about why they do not attend services. Some people complain that services are not exciting enough. For some people, no matter how good it gets, it will never be good enough to come on a regular basis. The reasons offered for not attending services are just excuses. Like many other areas of life, the excuses are often a cover-up for laziness and indifference. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 122-3)
The Sabbath should be a special time to study. God endowed humans with intelligence. When we don’t engage in study, we deny this component of our divine essence. In addition, parents need to serve as role models for their children to demonstrate that learning is not just a childhood affliction that will be cured with graduation. It is especially appropriate to study the Bible and other religious books. (Dr. Laura Schlessinger, The Ten Commandments, 124)
If we are not rested, on the other hand, the body moves to the center of our focus and makes its presence more strongly felt, and the tendencies of its parts call out more strongly for gratification. The sensual desires and ego demands will have greater power over us through our desperate body and its parts. In addition, our awareness of what it is doing–it is very subtle–and what is happening around us will be less sharp and decisive. Confusion is the enemy of spiritual orientation. Rest, properly taken, gives clarity to the mind. Weariness, by contrast, can make us seek gratification and energy from food or drugs, or from various illicit relationships, or from egoistic postures that are, in Paul’s words, “upon the earth.” They pull us away from reliance upon God and from living in his power. ( Dallas Willard; Renovation of the Heart, 175-6)
“Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer, since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment…Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.” — Leonardo Da Vinci
Few elective activities will ever rise to a status higher than work in our minds, and therefore cannot be relied upon to counterbalance our neurotic drive to achieve. Most of us will jettison plans to go skiing if a deadline looms near. We will assign a high priority to a non-work-related hobby only if we have committed to it in some public manner, as we do when we join a volleyball team or a choir. (Oddly, one of the few times a parent can truly relax is when lingering on the sidelines of a child’s baseball or soccer game; there is nothing like being forced to be somewhere and do very little for an hour and a half to declench the muscles of the mind.) (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
“Be quick, but don’t hurry.” — John Wooden
So What?: We can never grow and mature and become all God designed and created us to be unless and until we trust God that it is to our advantage to fully and joyfully engage in Sabbath observances. Proper preparation and observation of God’s Sabbath encourages faith, hope and love.
There was a defining moment in my spiritual life. It happened when I realized that if I insisted on becoming consumed by every major sporting event or political race, every move of the stock market, or even every worry of parenting, if I let these things seize my heart, I simply could not enter into a true celebration of the Sabbath or the joy of a baptism, or the Lord’s Supper, or Christmas or Easter, or any other true and significant celebration. I have learned the necessity of “guarding my heart” (Pr 4:23) because my heart does not have an infinite capacity to rejoice or be alarmed. By becoming preoccupied with passing things, I exhaust my heart’s ability to care about the things that really do matter. (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, 110)
God not only appointed the seventh day, but he blessed it. It is not only a day of honor to God, but a day of blessing to us; it is not only a day wherein we give God worship, but a day wherein he gives us grace. On this day a blessing drops down from heaven. God himself is not benefitted by it, we cannot add one cubit to his essential glory; but we ourselves are benefitted. This day, religiously observed, entails a blessing upon our souls, our estate, and our posterity. Not keeping it, brings a curse, Jer 17:27. God curses a man’s blessings, Mal 2:2. The bread which he eats is poisoned with a curse; so the conscientious observation of the Sabbath, brings all manner of blessings with it. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 94)
Making sure you recognize Christ’s presence in church each Sunday (Some suggested ideas to help you get ready). (Karen Burton Mains, Making Sunday Special, 109)
During the week:
- I have mentally determined that Sunday morning with Christ in his church will be the high point of my week.
- I have learned what the main text of the sermon will be and have meditated on that passage.
- I have prepared myself to sing God’s praises by reading through the hymns chosen for the service.
- I have carefully considered the offering I want to present to the Lord with gladness.
- I have prayed about inviting a friend who would benefit from being with me in Christ’s presence.
- I have asked Christ to make me sensitive tomorrow to the needs of people in the body who are hurting.
- I have solved the “Sunday clothes hassle” by making sure that what I will wear is ready today.
- I have spent time in confession so all will be right between myself and my Lord when we meet tomorrow.
- I have determined to get to bed early so I will be refreshed and ready for church tomorrow.
- I have planned on sustaining the delight of this time with Christ and his people by guarding against Sunday afternoon infringements.
- I have gotten up in plenty of time so I will not feel rushed.
- I have programmed my morning so I will not just arrive at church on time, but get there early.
- I have eaten a good breakfast, so an empty stomach will not detract from my worship.
- I have my Bible in hand plus a pen and paper for taking notes.
- I have left for church with a great sense of expectancy because I know Christ will be there.
It is incumbent on every man to be very, very zealous in making the Sabbath day preparations, to be prompt and diligent as a man who has heard that the queen is coming to lodge at his house, or that the bride and her entire entourage are coming to his home. (Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath, 65)
The things we should pray for in the morning of the Sabbath. Let us beg a blessing upon the word which is to be preached; that it may be a savor of life to us; that by it our minds may be more illuminated, our corruptions more weakened, and our stock of grace more increased. Let us pray that God’s special presence may be with us, that our hearts may burn within us while God speaks, that we may receive the word into meek and humble hearts, and that we may submit to it, and bring forth fruits, Jam 1:21. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 106)
As God’s covenant people whom he redeemed, they depend daily upon him for everything. A great way to affirm the rest they have because of redemption is to do nothing on the Sabbath. For doing nothing is a sign that they are totally dependent on God’s grace. (Ajith Fernando, Preaching the Word: Dt, 191)
As the people of Israel were to wash themselves before the law was delivered to them, so we must wash and cleanse our souls; and that is done by reading, meditation, and prayer, Ex 19:10. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 101)
The word is a great means to sanctify the heart, and bring it into a Sabbath-frame. “Sanctify them through thy truth,” &c. Jn 17:17. Read not the word carelessly, but with seriousness and affection; as the oracle of heaven, the well of salvation, the book of life. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 101)
[I] Distraction. “That ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction” 1 Cor 7:35. It is said of Bernard, that when he came to the church-door he would say, “Stay here all my earthly thoughts.” So should we say to ourselves, when we are at the door of God’s house, “Stay here all my worldly cares and wandering cogitations; I am now going to hear what the Lord will say to me.” Distraction hinders devotion. . . . To have the heart distracted in hearing, is a disrespect to God’s omniscience. God is an all-seeing Spirit; and thoughts speak louder in his ears than words do in ours. “He declareth unto man what is his thought,” Amos 4:13. To make no conscience of wandering thoughts in hearing, is an affront to God’s omniscience, as if he knew not our heart, or did not hear the language of our thoughts. . . .  To give way to wandering thoughts in hearing is hypocrisy. We pretend to hear what God says, and our minds are quite upon another thing. We present God with our bodies, but do not give him our hearts, Hos 7:11. This hypocrisy God complains of. “This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me” Isa 29:13. This is to prevaricate and deal falsely with God. . . . Vain thoughts in hearing, when allowed and not resisted, make way for hardening the heart. A stone in the heart is worse than in the kidneys. Distracted thoughts in hearing do not better the heart, but harden it. Vain thoughts take away the holy awe of God which should be upon the heart; they make conscience less tender, and hinder the efficacy the word should have upon the heart. . . .
How shall we get rid of these vagabond thoughts?
(1) Pray and watch against them. (2) Let the sense of God’s omniscient eye overawe your hearts. The servant will not sport in his master’s presence. (3) Labor for a holy frame of heart. Were the heart more spiritual, the mind would be less feathery. (4) bring more love to the word. We fix our minds upon that which we love. He that loves his pleasures and recreations, fixes his mind upon them, and can follow them without distraction. Were our love more set upon the preached word, our minds would be more fixed upon it; and surely there is enough to make us love the word preached; for it is the word of life, the inlet to knowledge, and antidote against sin, the quickener of all holy affections. . . .Take heed of drowsiness in hearing. Drowsiness shows much irreverence. How lively are many when they are about the world, but in the worship of God how drowsy, as if the devil had given them opium to make them sleep! . . .A good remedy against drowsiness is to use a spare diet upon the Sabbath. Such as indulge their appetite too much on a Sabbath, are fitter to sleep on a couch than pray in the temple. (Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, 107-111)
The sabbath as a rest that is open to God relativizes human work and pulls people away from their own goals and energies and endeavors so they remember the larger work of God. It reminds the believing community that human plans and labors, intelligence and strength, gifts and accomplishments are not the be-all and end-all of human existence. “The holy day does not invalidate human work, but it limits and relativizes it. It does not forbid work, but it forbids ultimate trust in our own work” (Winn). (Patrick D. Miller, Interpretation: Dt, 82)
Our hearts should look forward to the Sabbath as a favorite day, the most wonderful of days. You should not cast a longing eye at the world and its entertainments. It is offensive to the Lord if we approach him while preferring to be elsewhere and if we show that with pouting lip or with impatient shuffling feet that are eager to be off to other things. You must come with the sense of relish which excites the person who will meet with a lover. Even the comparison of setting aside our business and earthly pleasures should make us happy to spend a day with our favorite persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Walter Chantry, Call the Sabbath a Delight, 36)
The opposite of work is not leisure or play or having fun but idleness–not investing ourselves in anything. Even sleeping can be a form of investment if it is done for the sake of future activity. But sleep, like amusement, can also be a form of escape–oblivion sought for its own sake rather than for the sake of renewal. It can be a waste of time. Leisure activity or play or having fun, on the other hand, can involve genuine investment of the self and not be a waste of time at all. (William J. Bennett, The Book of Virtues, 347)
Notice that calling the Sabbath a delight is parallel to calling the holy day of the Lord honorable. This simply means you honor what you delight in. Or you glorify what you enjoy.
The enjoyment of God and the glorification of God are one. His eternal purpose and our eternal pleasure unite. To magnify his name and multiply your joy is the reason I have written this book, for The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever. (John Piper, Desiring God, 254)
Commit yourself to the Lord’s Day in the Lord’s house, and little else outside of the home will be necessary for the cultivation of a thriving spiritual life. The Puritans referred to the Lord’s Day as “the market day of the soul.” Six days a week one buys and sells for the sake of one’s body. Sunday however we are to “trade” in spiritual commodities for the sake of our souls. All secular affairs are to be set aside. All Christians, “after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand,” are to “not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations,” but also are to be engaged “the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy” (Westminster Confession of Faith 21.8). The key to consistent attendance at public worship (of which we have spoken above as the key to your spiritual well-being) is a commitment to observing the Christian Sabbath. Or to state it negatively, you will never be able to become consistent about attending public worship until you are convinced that Sunday is not just the Lord’s morning, but the Lord’s Day. (Philip Graham Ryken, Give Praise to God A Vision for Reforming Worship, 332)
“6 Reasons You Seriously Need to Slow Down: How a hurried, busy life can destroy your relationship with God.” By Frank Powell; September 17, 2015. (Frank Powell is a devoted follower of Christ, a young adult minister and a writer. He and his wife, Tiffani, have two sons and are in the process of adopting a daughter from Ethiopia).
In 1967, experts on time management delivered a report to the U. S. Senate. These experts believed the speed of technology, satellites and robotics would present a big problem for the American workplace in the years to come.
The problem? People would have too much free time.
They concluded that “By 1985, people might have to choose between working 22 hours a week, 27 weeks a year, or retiring at 38.”
Good call, “experts.” If I had a time machine, I would fire all of you.
Almost 50 years later, we’re moving faster than ever. We’re obsessed with being busy and getting things done quickly. Our pace is out of control.
If we compare our pace to the pace of Jesus’s life, there aren’t many similarities. Jesus was never rushed. He wasn’t overwhelmed by life, even though He had an enormous mission to complete in a very short period of time.
Intimacy with God requires stillness, attentiveness and silence. You must get off life’s busy freeway to grow closer to God.
Jesus never rushed, because He moved at God’s pace. You see, hurry isn’t from God. It’s the world’s pace.
Culture’s obsession with busyness and hurriedness isn’t just a scheduling problem. It’s a heart problem. It’s time to consider what a hurried life is costing us:
- A Hurried Life Destroys Your Relationship With God
Wing Mandao, a Chinese pastor, said, “We have so much to do that we never really commune with God as He intended in the Garden of Eden.”
Intimacy with God requires stillness, attentiveness and silence. You must get off life’s busy freeway to grow closer to God.
Jesus frequently removed Himself from the world. He spent time alone in prayer and solitude. And in these moments, Jesus received the strength to fulfill His mission, the confidence to continue His mission, and the wisdom to discern the ways of God from the ways of the world.
Unless you spend extended periods of time alone with God through prayer, solitude and sabbath, the speed of the world will skew your understanding of God. Anxiety, unrest and discontentment will hover over your life like a dark storm cloud. As Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
- A Hurried Life Decreases Your Capacity to Love Others
It’s not a coincidence that the great love passage, 1 Corinthians 13, begins with “Love is patient.” Love isn’t easily angered. Love doesn’t leave at the first sign of trouble. It doesn’t rush to judgment.
In The Rhythm of Life, Matthew Kelly says relationships can only thrive under “carefree timelessness.” And this is something hurried people don’t have. The more you increase the speed of your life, the less capacity you have to love others.
Considering the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others, you need to consider whether your hurried life is costing you more than you realize.
- A Hurried Life Increases the Power of Temptation
Through temptation, Satan tries to decrease the time between impulse and action. And, in our instant gratification culture, Satan has masterfully deceived people.
So many of my mistakes—sex before marriage, stealing, drunkenness, porn addiction—are the result of looking for instant gratification.
When you nurture patience and learn to wait, you trust God to give you the things in time that Satan says you need now.
- A Hurried Life Numbs You to Injustices
As Kirk Jones said, “Hurry is a desensitizer, snuffing out moments of intimacy with life to the point that we get used to living day after day with little deep feeling.”
When your life moves at freeway speed, you have no time or energy to consider the world outside of your lane. You become desensitized or unaware of brokenness in the world. Your heart becomes calloused to the things that break God’s heart—the Syrian refugee crisis, the abortion of millions around the world, the heinous treatment of God’s people by ISIS.
God’s heart breaks for injustice and oppression. If your heart doesn’t break for the things that break God’s heart, it’s time to slow down and consider the world outside of your life.
- A Hurried Life Increases Narrow-Mindedness and Legalism
In today’s world, information is at your fingertips. Any podcast from almost any preacher can be accessed with a few clicks. You can purchase books with your phone. Type in any question, Google will answer it in seconds.
With all this information, you would think Christians would know more about God than ever. But that’s just the problem. Information teaches you about God, but it doesn’t connect you to Him.
Information increases knowledge. But knowledge alone leads to legalism.
God’s idea of purpose isn’t about doing. It’s about becoming. Truly knowing God requires discernment and wisdom. These grow incrementally through reflection, solitude, prayer and Christ-centered community. The difference between knowledge and wisdom is the difference between the disciples, having minimal knowledge about God but recognizing Jesus when He approached them, and the Pharisees, having a wealth of knowledge but crucifying Jesus when He approached.
- A Hurried Life Clouds Your Purpose and Diminishes Your Passion
“Purpose” is a trendy word in today’s culture. It’s also more elusive than the Loch Ness Monster.
In a hurried culture, your life’s purpose is determined by what you do. It’s all about what you can see. W hat you can hold.
But God’s idea of purpose isn’t about doing. It’s about becoming.
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You can do good things for God. But if those good things don’t flow from a relationship with God, discovering your purpose will feel a lot like looking for a two-legged unicorn.
So, think about these questions: Are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control increasing in your heart? Are you a man or woman of integrity? Are you trustworthy? Do the people who know you most respect you?
A hurried life looks externally for answers to life’s big questions. But a life at God’s pace looks internally for these answers.
Your life’s pace matters. Unless you move at God’s speed, you won’t see the world through God’s lens. It’s time to slow down.
I don’t believe God is impressed with an exhaustion. He isn’t glorified when you take on so many responsibilities that your soul floods with unrest and discontentment. Feeling burnt out isn’t a badge of faithfulness. Take your foot off the gas. Slow down.
(This article was originally published on frankpowell.me. Used with permission.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/6-reasons-you-seriously-need-slow-down#u3CWXDZTfHzjDbgv.99) (sent by Juli Yoder)
Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague, best known for his tales of the golem, pointed out that the story of Creation was written in such a way that each day, each new creation, is seen as a step toward a completion that occurred on the Sabbath. What was Creation’s climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don’t have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember. (JUDITH SHULEVITZ, Bring Back the Sabbath, Published: March 2, 2003)
“Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in thee, O Lord.” — St. Augustine
There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any other created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus. — Blaise Pascal
We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.
Judith Shulevitz, Bring Back the Sabbath