Day of Rest?
As Americans, perhaps even as Westerners or just as citizens of the world, life can become incessantly busy. So many things like career, family, recreation, hobbies, entertainment practically beg for our attention each and every day of each and every week. Recently at Light City we were reminded of when Jesus healed a man at the Pool of Bethesda of all days on the Sabbath. Of course this infuriated the Jews especially when they began to get the message that Jesus was claiming to have authority over the day of rest, not the other way round.
Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Because of all those things that beckon for our time and devotion the fourth commandment has fallen on hard times. In that busy world it may even seem archaic and way-back old school to talk about the sabbath, much less actually endeavor to obey the command. Should we in the good ole’ US of A, in 2022 care about a day of rest?
I can already feel the objections. After all, this was the Old Testament law, given to Moses and God’s people for a particular time and place and while the principle may remain, the absolute practice of it is certainly different, isn’t it? The men that wrote the Westminster Confession were convinced that it was in fact binding for us today. Unless, that is, something drastic has changed since 1647. They stated unequivocally that the day of rest was a “perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages…”. All men, all ages, yes, I guess that does include us. But what about someone with a bit more authority that a bunch of dead theologians?
How about the apostles themselves. Surely they were progressive enough for their day to not fall into the icky-boring-ness of sabbath observance after Christ rose from the dead, right? Not so fast. I think there are in reality so many approaches we could take that would still remain within the scope of the teaching of the apostles but let us consider just this one; “in Christ”.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…
That exact phrase appears in our New Testaments nearly 100 times. This brings to mind the preposition chart from Greek class that is basically one big circle. Each preposition;
toward, over, under, from, through etc., has been placed on the chart in a way that visibly illustrates the meaning of the word in relationship to its object which is represented by the circle.
So the word “in” has been placed, you guessed it, inside the circle.
Being “in Christ” is one of the simplest, yet most profound truths in all of scripture. He is the circle, we are in him. In a very real and spiritual sense we cannot remove ourselves from being in Him. And yet, each and every day, and especially so on the Lord’s Day in particular we must practice what it means to be “in Christ”. This is why we remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. We must never forget how and why we got to be in the privileged position of resting in Jesus.
What happens if we did not have this weekly admonition to remember our state of being in Christ? As honest humans we should freely admit that we will indeed forget. What a sad scenario that would be, forgetting our relationship to Jesus the Great Redeemer who takes us out of relationship to our own sin, justifies us (declares us perfectly innocent and completely righteous) and places us in Him.
From the call to worship all the way through to the benediction our goal in Lord’s Day worship is to remind the church to rest in Christ, to call sinners to begin resting in Him. Even the confession is not meant to make folks feel bad about their sin, but to confess it because resting in Him is the only path to forgiveness. This is just part of what makes the day holy and gives Him glory which He deserves.
So before the next Sunday, there’s one coming up shortly, take some time to consider; is what I have planned able to keep me resting in Him? Do my activities make the day holy to Him? Have I truly planned a break from the busyness of the rest of the week as a special reminder of the goodness and grace of God? My prayer for you is that you take a moment to reflect on this rest. Begin to evaluate whether or not your rest is just run-of-the-mill break from work. Consider how you might increase your intentionality in “remembering the sabbath to keep it holy”. And of course, please join us on the next Lord’s Day as we practice resting in Christ. Together!
See you then!