• The Sign of the Sabbath (part 1 of 2)


    I saw a graphic recently.  It was a bar graph of sorts addressing various indicators of spirituality. It charted topics ranging from belief in the deity of Christ to belief in the wrath of God for personal sins.  Being compared on this graph were the Christian beliefs and practices of men and women.  In just about every category women were “more religious” than men.

    What was disturbing on one indicator, however, was not that women were ten percent more likely to attend weekly worship than men.  No surprise there.  The disconcerting thing was that the women won at 40 percent.  More than half the time professing believers neglected corporate worship.  The bride of Christ spurning their Husband’s wishes for corporate worship of Him who loved her and died for her!

    Disregard of corporate worship results from many issues of heart and society.  One of these issues, broader than worship but inclusive of it, is respect for the Sabbath.

    Have you ever tried to press on without rest?  Perhaps for a time we can do what we need to do and our bodies hold up.  But over time our health will suffer as will our performance.  Apply that to spiritual health and effectiveness of the individual and the church when God’s provision for rest and renewal is routinely disregarded.

    The Sabbath rhythm carries with it God’s design for created humanity.  Did you ever wonder why God did not create everything in just one day, in just one word?  Through His creating pattern, God illustrated and established the Sabbath, one day in seven, for the welfare of mankind.

    The Sabbath is enhanced for a redeemed humanity.  God’s redemption looked forward throughout the Old Testament era waiting for the rest from our labors in the Messiah.  On this side of the cross, we as God’s people look back to Christ’s victory for us.  Our week flows from the Sabbath, now positioned as Sunday, the day on which our Lord was raised from the dead. Moreover, we look forward to that eternal Sabbath rest in heavenly glory.  Weekly Sabbath observance enfolds each of these perspectives.

    Time is a precious commodity.  The Sabbath harnesses time.  How often have we heard that someone doesn’t have time to read the Bible, doesn’t have time to pray, doesn’t have time to visit with others? God has gift-wrapped a block of time for us. He calls us to make the best use of our time, knowing the days are evil (Eph. 5:16).  The Sabbath falls under that “best use” category.

    In my reading through the Bible I came across these words:  “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.” (Ex. 31:13)  Sabbath keeping is a sign of sanctification, that we are set apart for God as holy and called to be holy.

    Sabbath observance is a bit tricky.  It does hold prominence in God’s moral law encoded in the Ten Commandments and is certainly emphasized in the Old Testament.  The tricky part is that it also seems to hold aspects of the ceremonial law (which connects the Sabbath with the sacrificial system) and the civil law (which made Sabbath-breaking a capital crime), both which were consummated in Christ.

    As a moral obligation, the command endures to remember the Sabbath and rest on it.  For Christians, the day of Sabbath observance is Sunday.  Not only are we to try to avoid secular vocation on that day, we are to join with the people of God assembled for worship. We see that illustrated in the New Testament (Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10). Through our gathering for worship we make the Sabbath a sign in three ways.

    Next: The Sign of the Sabbath (part 2 of 2)

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