The Pen

Sundays are for Sabbath Rest

Are you Reformed? If so, this is your view of the Sabbath (same in both the Westminster Confession of Faith and the LBC1689) – From Chapter 22, Article 7 & 8.

7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )

Nature – One of the apologetics defenses of a Sabbath that is “the same in substance, although different in administration” (other than that it is Moral Law found in the Ten Commandments) is that it is tied directly to God’s own nature, as demonstrated in creation. God saw fit to observe a day of rest and enjoyment of his created things. On the Sabbath, we observe a day of rest and enjoyment of our Creator.

By God’s Appointment – God created the Sabbath and Jesus is the Lord of it (Matthew 12:8). We cannot set the days and times and habits of its observance, for it has been set already for us by God.

Moral, and perpetual commandment – The significance of this language may escape you if you’re unaware of the vocabulary and theological undergirding of our Confession. Those laws which were moral are perpetual (and universal), according to the Reformed thinkers (and, I believe, they were right). Unlike ceremonial or civil laws, there is no sunset clause on the laws that come directly from God’s own nature. They are moral and perpetual.

Which from the beginning of the world  – The precedent set by God to rest and enjoy happened before Sinai and continues after Sinai. The Sabbath is not abrogated in Sinai’s laws because like the Noahic Covenant, it existed before Sinai’s covenant.

Is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath – It is often called the “Lord’s Day” because John called it that, because it’s the day of the Lord’s resurrection, it is the day that Christ appeared during his 40 days between the resurrection and ascension, and the day belongs to Christ. Yet, it is in substance the very same Sabbath as that which is commanded in the 4th Commandment. Its administration has changed, but the substance remains the same.

Ordering their common affairs aforehand – The Sabbath is observed every day of the week – not just Sunday. Every day we hurry and labor to get our work done in order to observe a restful Sabbath, is honoring the Sabbath. Cleaning your home, doing your laundry, and putting a meal in the crockpot on Saturday so you don’t have to labor over the hot stove on Sunday is observing the Lord’s Day.

An holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts – Isn’t going to church “work”? Especially if you’re a pastor or deacon or Sunday School teacher, etc…? Our rest is a rest that (first and foremost) is a break from our regular weekly routine of labor and chores and employment. It doesn’t mean sitting in a vegetative state in your recliner. However, bodily rest is and should be aimed at as well. And not only bodily rest, but rest from regular words and thoughts. If you’ve noticed, I don’t typically chime in and talk discernment in social media (or do much social media at all) on that day. My thoughts on the Lord’s Day should be devoted unto him as worship, and behavior in all aspects of my life should be different on that day.

In the duties of necessity and mercy – This line is taken from Luke 14:5. There are exceptions to this, for those in the employment or volunteer service of necessity or mercy.

Beloved, clean the house, do the laundry, observe the Sabbath by putting a meal in the crockpot on Saturday night…feast and rest. It’s for your good.


[Contributed by JD Hall]