In keeping with the 4th commandment:
It is said by many that it is the righteousness of Christ, the work of Christ, we should understand in relation to the sabbath day and how one observes it. “In Christ we rest-Jesus is our rest-He is Lord of the sabbath!!”
This is true. No one argues against this truth; however, are believers not called to reject sin? Even though we ‘rest in Him’, does that mean we are not conscious of the remaining sin that hampers our walk? Just because we ‘rest in Him’, does that mean we can damn all the torpedoes? We still cannot haphazardly indulge lying or coveting, right? Can we make for ourselves, idols? Can we bear false witnesses against our neighbor or use the Lord’s name in vanity? Are we free to divorce? Our rest is in Him, no? He did the work, we are done; we rest now!
I understand that the sabbath day and it’s requirements are a bit different when you compare it to the other commands. We are told in the 4th commandment to ‘keep the day holy’. The only holiness we bring to the table is Christ. The sabbatarian gets that. However, as mentioned, it does not end there-again, consider the 9th command and how we still remain responsible to it even though it is Christ’s righteousness. Men are still obligated to not break the commands. We participate. It is part and parcel with our sanctification. You might ask, “Scott, but the 4th commandment does not stipulate how we are to keep the sabbath; this makes it almost impossible to determine what we can do and what we cannot do!”
Would breaking any of the other 9 commandments on the sabbath meet those requirements? I assume you will agree, ‘no, we should not break any of the other 9 commandments on the sabbath day’. This is good, we are making progress. Even though Christ is our holiness, we still keep the commands of God. Even though Christ is our rest and we rest in Him, we are still responsible to the 4th command.
This is the million dollar question: How then do we keep the day as not to desecrate it? It is interesting to note, God’s word does not specifically tell us how to keep the day. We have all the ceremonial commands to consider. Acknowledging that the ceremonies have been done away with when Christ rose from the dead and the temple vail, rent from top to bottom-we can eliminate those items. We can conclude that working on the sabbath day to be not acceptable. God has given us 6 other days to make ends meet, no?
Works of mercy and necessity? Yes, we can change the battery in our car on the sabbath day (see this as pulling one’s oxen from a ditch) if in fact we cannot get it done on Saturday or wait until Monday. ‘I am a medical professional, is not my services rendered on the sabbath day considered an act of mercy-people need medical people 24/7!’ If you get pay for your services on the sabbath day, it is no longer acts of mercy. Should we indulge those who are unbelievers by buying products and services from them when they desecrate the Lord’s day? No! In doing so, you show yourself to be a hypocrite and an advocate of their breaking of the 4th command. We should not indulge this sin. You might ask, “Scott, but when we hammer this command down to the minutia, turning on a light would be breaking the command-are we not working when we put a tea bag into boiling water? Are we not advocating for those who work in the electric company by utilizing their product on the sabbath?” Yes and no. One needs to understand that God has been a bit conservative in His explaining that which we can do on the sabbath and that which we should not do; He did this not to monopolize the command and show it impossible to determine; He has done this as to keep the creature humble and honest towards it. It causes one to be conservative towards the 4th command. We should not abuse electricity on the day, nor wax our car after changing the dead battery or taking long trips.
Since we do not know specifically, eliminating the items related to ceremonies that have past away, we approach the day and it’s restrictions with prudence. We do not throw the baby out with the bathwater because we are frustrated to understand the command. Our consciences bear witness with the spirit of God which resides in us. The Holy Spirit guides God’s people into all truth.
Does not the sabbath day possess a tenor that the other 6 do not? It feels completely different from the other days, does it not? Creation bears witness to the command. The 4th commandment is creationary. God worked and then rested. God set the day apart. Do you?
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
The Promise of Rest
4 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
This is a powerful passage showing that sabbath keeping is imperative in the believers life.
Consider this passage in light of the passage from Isaiah:
Isaiah 58:13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honorable,
And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor finding your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words,
14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord;
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”