“Walking with God on the Lord’s Day” (Hebrews 4:9-10


I. Introduction. A. Orientation. 1. Last time we considered our topic on walking with God, we were looking at fasting: a. We saw what it is: The giving up of food and sequestering ourselves from the world for a twenty-four hour period to humble ourselves in body and soul and seek the Lord for some mercy. b. We saw that it is our responsibility to fast when our circumstances require it and what some of those circumstances are. c. We saw the benefits we can expect from fasting: both physical in clearer thinking and spiritual in bringing about swift answers to prayer. d. And we’ve seen how to fast. 2. We closed with two exhortations to fast. Let me just briefly repeat the substance of both because we need to hear it again. a. A’Brakel wrote, “It is sad – a sign of great decay in the church – that so little work is made of fasting, both in public as well as secretly. Therefore all who wish to lead a life of tender godliness and desire to see the good of Zion ought to stir themselves up to exercise this duty, for: (1) Has not God commanded this? . . . (2) Have not the church and the saints of all ages practiced this and left us an example to be followed? . . . Therefore, as obedient children of God and followers of the saints, fast frequently. This was the practice of the original Christian church and of believers at the outset of the Reformation – and even long thereafter. Do not allow this practice to die out” (9). b. And Samuel Miller wrote, “Finally, from the foregoing view of the subject, the reflection is obvious, that WE have no less reason for fasting and humiliation than our fathers of former ages. Let us not imagine that there was some special character either in the men or the events of ancient times which rendered the exercise in question more needful to them than to us. By no means; human nature is the same, religion is the same, and the causes of Christian mourning are the same now as they were when Joshua, David, Nehemiah, and Paul fasted and laid in the dust before the mercy-seat. . . . How many millions of our fellow men around us still remain in hardened rebellion! How many churches in our land, notwithstanding all the precious revivals with which it has pleased God to favor us, are to this hour as cold, as desolate, and almost lifeless (in a spiritual sense), as the tombs which surround their places of worship! How many personal, domestic, ecclesiastical and national sins press heavily upon us as a people and cry aloud for the judgments of a righteous God! Think of the abounding atheism and various forms of infidelity, the pride, the degrading intemperance, the

2 profanations of the Sabbath, the fraud, the gross impiety, the neglect and contempt of the gospel, and all the numberless forms of enormous moral corruption, which even in the most favored parts of our country prevail in a deplorable degree, and in the less favored hold a melancholy and undisturbed reign; think of these abounding sins – and think also in how small a degree multitudes even of the professing people of God seem to be awake to the great responsibilities and duties of their high vocation – and then say whether we have not reason for special humiliation and prayer? (Miller 26-27). c. Let’s not forget what we’ve heard, but set aside time for prayer and fasting. B. Preview. 1. This evening, we’re going to consider another form of fasting that is the same in many ways with the fasting we’ve just considered, except that we don’t abstain from food: keeping the Sabbath. a. On this day, we are to abstain from the world and from earthly pleasures, as we do when we’re fasting. b. Its purpose is not so much to humble us in this case, as it is to wean us from the world and lift our eyes and hearts to heaven. c. It’s able to tell us a great deal about our hearts – what it is we really love – by our ability or inability to keep it. d. But as it is one of God’s commandments, it is one of the ways we are to walk with God – this is where He is on the Lord’s Day: the question is whether or not we will be there with Him. e. It’s also a means of blessing: as in fasting, we bring down God’s gracious answers to our prayers, in keeping the Sabbath, we put ourselves in the path of His blessings. f. Isaiah writes, “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (53:13-14). 2. We’ll look first at why we believe the fourth commandment continues to be binding on us today. a. If we’re not convinced of this, then no amount of instruction will be useful on how we should keep it. b. Then, we’ll consider how we should keep it. c. I think we’ll all find that there are areas where we have allowed ourselves to slip. This inevitably happens. But hopefully, once we again see the clear teaching of Scripture, we will be encouraged to repent, to turn back onto that straight and narrow path that is the path of safety, the path of life, and the path of blessing, because it is the path the Lord walks on. II. Sermon.

3 A. Does the Lord reveal in His Word that the Sabbath is still binding? Let’s consider the evidence and then you decide whether or not it is. 1. Let’s consider, first of all, an argument from reason. a. Does the holy God of the Bible exist? If you answered yes (which you will if you are a Christian), then the next question is, do you need to worship Him? Of course, the answer to this is yes as well. b. Does worship take time? Again, the answer is yes. We can’t really know how often or how long apart from the Scripture, but we can know that we are to worship Him. c. When we worship God, does He want our attention to be divided? No, He requires our undistracted attention and devotion, which means that when we worship, we must set certain things aside, things that don’t directly involve Him (work and recreation). d. Should that time be the same for everyone who worships God? It would be best if it was so that we wouldn’t distract one another. (i) We know from Scripture that the Lord would have us meet together, and so this time must be the same for all of us. (ii) “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb 10:24-25). e. We can deduce at least this much from the fact that God exists. 2. But there are certain things that reason can’t tell us, for instance, how often we are to worship and how long. a. We know that if we don’t worship often enough, we might forget God altogether. (i) Consider what your spiritual life is like when you miss your personal devotions, family worship and public worship for very long. (ii) You soon grow spiritually weak and lethargic. b. If our times of worship are too close together, they might not leave us with enough time to take care of our other responsibilities, such as making a living or raising our families. One frequency will work better than another. c. There is also the question of how long we are to worship God. (i) If we don’t take enough time, we won’t be able to clear the things of the world from our minds and focus as we should on the Lord. (ii) If too long, then it might again get in the way of our other responsibilities. 3. These are the questions we wouldn’t know the answer to, if the Lord hadn’t shown us in His Word. But He has. a. It makes sense that if God has revealed His will in every area of our lives in Scripture that He would reveal this too.

4 b. He does tell us that when He first created the world, after He finished His work, He rested and blessed the day of His rest for us (Gen. 2:1-3). (i) What better time to establish the frequency and amount of time we are to worship than at the beginning? (ii) God gave man work to do from the very beginning – to cultivate the garden and to keep it (2:15) – but He also told them when to stop and worship the God who created him. (iii) He showed us by way of example – He worked six days and rested on the seventh – and He showed us by way of ordinance – He rested on that day, sanctified and blessed it for man’s use. (iv) We know this was His intent because this is how the first family kept it: (a) We read in Genesis 4:3-4, “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions.” (b) “The course of time” we read of here is literally “the end of days,” or the end of the cycle of days the Lord established: the Sabbath day. (c) This was the day the Lord set apart for rest and worship (Dabney Systematic 371). (d) Notice that this wasn’t something He did only for the Jews – as He would later add this commandment to the ten – but He gave it to Adam before the separation of the nations, showing that He intended it for all mankind. (e) The Lord gives us the frequency of our worship – one day in seven – and the length of that worship – one day. c. But the Lord tells us even more clearly. (i) He has given us a specific command: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the 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” (Ex. 20:8-11). (ii) This command is part of God’s unchanging moral standard, not just for Israel, but for all men, since we know it is the standard by which all men will be judged on the last day. Every nation, every individual, is to keep the Sabbath holy. (iii) This command was engraved with the other nine on tablets of stone by the finger of God and placed in the ark. (a) It’s interesting that the ceremonial law was written in a book and placed beside the ark, showing us that it would eventually be set aside. (b) But the ten commandments were actually placed in the ark, showing us not only that it was meant to be permanent, but also that Christ

5 would later keep it – to purchase heaven for us – and die for the breaking of it – to satisfy God’s punitive justice. d. Does this day of worship continue into the NT? (i) First, does God still exist and are we still bound to worship Him? Do we still need to know how often and how long? Should that time still be the same for each of us? Yes. But we have more to tell us this is the case. (ii) It was prophesied in the OT that the Sabbath would continue into the New Covenant: (a) The Lord, speaking through Isaiah, says this as He predicts the blessings of the New Covenant, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Preserve justice and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed. How blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who takes hold of it; who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from His people.’ Nor let the eunuch say, ‘Behold, I am a dry tree.’ For thus says the LORD, ‘To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, to them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off. Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and holds fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples’” (Isa 56:1-7). (1) The prophet looks forward here to a time when both Gentiles and Eunuchs – both of whom were excluded from the assembly of the Lord under the Old Covenant – would both be included. (2) This, by the way, is the significance of the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius and his household coming into the church in Acts 8 and 10. (3) But notice when they would be included, the Sabbath would still be in force. (b) What day was to be observed? The day of Christ’s resurrection. (1) It was predicted that the day of Christ’s resurrection would be a day of rejoicing. (2) “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:22-24).

6 (3) This is the day the church would rejoice, as we see was the pattern of the early church: they met on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2). (iii) Christ certainly didn’t abolish the Sabbath, but upheld it, even declaring Himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath. (a) “Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath’” (Mark 2:27-28). (b) Only the Lord can abrogate a law once He establishes it. Neither Jesus nor the apostles give us any indication that this is God’s intent. (iv) Jesus also warned His disciples regarding 70 AD that they should pray that their flight from Judea would not be in the winter or on a Sabbath. (a) “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath” (Matt. 24:7). (b) Why would it matter if the Sabbath no longer existed? (v) Finally, the author to the Hebrews plainly tells us, “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). (a) The word used in the Greek refers to the keeping of a day of rest. (b) And, the author tells us, the continuance of the day is based on the work of Christ – the fact that He has entered into His rest: “For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” (v. 10). (c) All these things show us clearly that the Sabbath continues. 4. Why have we taken the time to look at these passages? a. If we’re not convinced that this is God’s will, then we won’t take the Sabbath seriously. b. If we don’t take it seriously, then we will walk in another direction than that which God takes. c. And if we stray from Him, we will miss His blessings. d. Let’s stop here this evening and let the Spirit use these passages to convict us of the continuance of the Sabbath and begin to bring our practice more into conformity with the Word of God. e. Next week, we’ll consider some of the objections against the Sabbath. Amen.

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