Thursday, March 24, 2022

Sabbath Rest, Worship, and Mercy

Q. 60: How is the sabbath to be sanctified? 
Answer: The sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

The fourth commandment requires us to keep the sabbath day holy. This is done, first, by resting from our normal activities. “…in it thou shalt not do any work” (Ex. 20:10). God exemplified this pattern of weekly rest in his work of creation. God tells his people to take a break and to trust him, our heavenly Father. We are not slaves under harsh spiritual bondage, nor are we orphans who are on our own in this world, but we are children of the living God. This rest is a guard against a workaholic mentality, worldliness, and the oppression of workers.

This rest is also intended to make room for the devotion of the day to duties of piety and mercy. The sabbath day is kept holy, not only by resting from worldly employments and recreations, but second, by spending the day in worship, as well as in works of necessity and mercy. As a holy day, it is set apart unto the worship of God. In commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, we ought to meditate on God’s word and works and give him praise. As Leviticus 23:3 says, the sabbath is a day for a holy convocation, the assembly of God’s people in local congregations for worship. As mentioned earlier, the New Testament describes this as well, that the church gathers for worship on the weekly sabbath, which is now the first day of the week. By resting the whole day, we gain time to prepare for public worship and as well as to practice family and private worship on that day.

In Matthew 12:1-13, Jesus corrected the Pharisaic practice of the sabbath, which had turned it into a burden. He noted how the sabbath day is also a day for deeds of mercy and kindness. Even in the Old Testament, it is noted that not only should you rest, but you should give rest and refreshment to others (Ex. 23:12, Deut. 5:13). Having received mercy from God, we should show mercy to others, sharing with one another and encouraging one another. Jesus also taught that deeds of necessity are permitted on the sabbath day, rebuking the Pharisees when they condemned the disciples for feeding themselves from the grain fields.

You can learn more on the observance of the sabbath day in this short video and in these sermons: Jesus and the Sabbath and Keep the Sabbath Day Holy.

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