"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
How Important Is the Sabbath to God?
I am not here to prove the continuing ordinance of the Sabbath, or that it is now to be on the first day rather than the seventh. I have dealt with those topics elsewhere (use the "sabbath" tag at the bottom). Rather, today my purpose is to show the value that God places on the Sabbath, and how severely He opposes the trampling of it.
In Jeremiah 17:20-22, that prophet was given a message particularly for the royal family of Judah: "Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah, and all Judah, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who enter by these gates. Thus says the Lord: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not bear a burden on the Sabbath day or bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. And
do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work,
but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers." I want particularly to point to Jeremiah's audience here, the royalty. Through him, God is making an argument from the greater to the lesser, or in Latin, argumentum a fortiori. That is, if even the royalty are under obligation from God to honor His Sabbath Day, then everyone else must logically also be under that obligation. Then Jeremiah turns from who is obligated to that to which they are obligated, the rewards for obedience, and the curse for disobedience, a standard form of covenantal stipulations (Jeremiah 17:24-27): "If you listen to Me, declares the Lord, and bring in no burden by the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but keep the Sabbath day holy and do no work on it, then
there shall enter by the gates of this city kings and princes who sit
on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their
officials, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This
city shall be inhabited forever, and
people shall come from the cities of Judah and the places around
Jerusalem, from the land of Benjamin, from the Shephelah, from the hill
country, and from the Negeb, bringing burnt offerings and sacrifices,
grain offerings and frankincense, and bringing thank offerings to the
house of the Lord. But,
if you do not listen to Me, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and not to
bear a burden and enter by the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day,
then I will kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces
of Jerusalem and shall not be quenched." Prosperity and safety are promised for obedience, while destruction is promised for disobedience. And, indeed, Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586BC, so we already know the final result. To use the language of teenagers, Jeremiah shows us that God don't play! Remember when Jesus called Himself the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8)? People treat that as as a statement to the intent of, "Don't work about it." But no, it is just the opposite! As Jehovah incarnate, Christ is literally the Lord of the Sabbath. "Lord' is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament where "Jehovah" appears in the Hebrew. Jesus is exactly the same Lord who is speaking in this prophecy of Jeremiah. Far from saying that it is unimportant, by declaring Himself Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus was telling His disciples that it was very important to Him!
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43