Sabbath Musings

For those not raised in a Sabbatarian home or in a Reformed Church, the issue of Sabbath-keeping is often perplexing. What is more, with the rise of Dispensationalism and New Covenant Theology, many see nothing but turbulent waters—waters that even theologians have trouble navigating. Didn’t Jesus do away with Old Testament ceremonial laws like the Sabbath? If it’s part of the New Testament, how should Christians observe it? Are we still supposed to stone Sabbath-breakers? While I don’t claim to have the final word on Sabbath matters, I will attempt to answer these questions.

In this post, I will present some of my thoughts on Sabbath-keeping, which I consider to be a modified Puritan position. To illustrate my position, first, I will outline reasons why I think the Sabbath still applies to the Christian, second, I will survey the redemptive-historical progression of the Sabbath, third, I will unpack the main purpose of the day, fourth, I will discuss a tri-perspectival approach to Sabbath observance, fifth, the issues of recreation and commerce will be considered, sixth, I will comment as to the spiritual benefits of keeping the Sabbath, and, finally, I will conclude by giving a few thoughts on some of the Reformed confessional statements regarding the Sabbath.

Christ did not abolish the weekly Sabbath

Here I will list out a few lines of evidence in support of the continuation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.

  1. The Sabbath Day is a creation ordinance, built into the very fiber of creation: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.” (Gen. 2:1-3). In fact, when Moses established the Sabbath ordinance under the Mosaic covenant, he appealed to creation (Exo. 20:11). Therefore, any attempt to see the Sabbath as originating at Sinai is faulty (c.f., Heb. 4:3).
  2. As the Baptist Catechism states, “The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments (Deut. 10:4; Mt. 19:17)” Moral laws, as opposed to positive laws (e.g., temporal OT civil and ceremonial laws), are timeless. For example, the prohibitions not to murder or worship images is for God’s people under both the Old and New covenants. Therefore, since the Sabbath command is part of the ten commandments, they are still for the people of God under the New Covenant.
  3. Instead of abolishing the Sabbath (Matt. 5:17-19), Jesus simply uncluttered it from Pharisaical elements (Matt. 12:1-8), making the day a delight (Ps. 118:24; Mark 2:27). Thus, as Daniel Block advices, “unless the New Testament expressly declares the end of an Old Testament ordinance (e.g., the sacrifices), we assume its authority for believers today continues.”[1]
  4. Jesus originally gave the ten commandments (Acts 7:30) and bids people to keep them (Luke 18:18-22; John 14:15; 15:10).
  5. Jesus believed the Sabbath would continue after His death (Matt. 24:20).
  6. When Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), he was harkening back not to Sinai, but to Genesis 2:3.[2]
  7. The apostle Paul said, “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God” (1 Cor. 7:19). What is of interest is that circumcision was a commandment, if “commandment” were being spoken of generically. Therefore, it seems more likely that here Paul is speaking of the ten commandments.
  8. The apostle John, likewise, exhorts: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
  9. Hebrews 4:9 says, “So, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” The word for “Sabbath-rest” (sabbatismos) is only used here in the NT. Why would the writer of Hebrews coin a new word and not use the more conventional word, katapausis? As Joseph Pipa argues, “The uniqueness of the word suggests a deliberate, theological purpose. He selects or coins sabbatismos because, in addition to referring to spiritual rest, it suggests as well an observance of that rest by a ‘Sabbath-keeping.’ Because the promised rest lies ahead for the New Covenant people, they are to strive to enter the future rest. Yet as they do so, they anticipate it by continuing to keep the Sabbath.”[3]
  10. If the writer of Hebrews did not have a weekly pointer to the ultimate end-times rest in view, then he essentially coined a word and linked it directly with Genesis 2:2-3. G.K. Beale notes the possibility, but says “it is more probable that he was influenced by the OT’s (Exod. 20:11; 31:17) own reuse of Gen. 2:2-3 to provide a basis for Israel’s weekly Sabbath rest. If so, it would seem that to some degree Israel’s weekly Sabbath rest came into the writer’s peripheral vision in Heb. 4:9-10, when he referred to ‘sabbath-resting’ in direct connection to God’s rest of Gen 2:2.”[4]
  11. There is an already-not-yet aspect to the Sabbath. The reason Christ fulfilled various ceremonial laws was because those laws served as types and shadows—as pointers—highlighting aspects of the coming Christ. While the Sabbath certainly pointed the OT saint to the rest intrinsic to the coming Messiah, it had an essential eschatological gaze. That is, the Sabbath pointed to the consummative, 7th Day rest. For this reason, the weekly Sabbath still acts as a pointer, helping the believer anticipate the eternal Sabbath. The Sabbath’s “eschatological goal pointed not only to Christ’s final resurrection rest and believers’ inaugurated salvific rest in Christ, but also to the final and complete rest of God’s people in the new heaven and earth, a goal that I have contended is embedded in Gen. 2:2-3 itself.”[5]
  12. Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:9-10; and Colossians 2:16-17 are not speaking of the 4th  Commandment. In the latter text, for example, Paul uses the plural “Sabbath days,” to denote “Jewish festivals, and those alone. The Christians’ festival, Sunday, is not here in question; because about the observance of this there was no dispute nor diversity in the Christian churches.”[6] Paul’s combination of “festival or a new moon or Sabbath days” is from the LXX, and speaks directly to the various ceremonial days Israel was to observe, including Sabbath years, etc. (c.f., 2 Chron. 31:3).[7]

The Redemptive-Historical progression of the Sabbath

Herman Hoeksema has rightly divided the progression of the Sabbath into four phases: Creation-Sabbath, Shadow-Sabbath, Resurrection-Sabbath, and Final-Sabbath.[8]

The Creation-Sabbath is the rest God entered on the 7th Day. The Sabbath was made for man; that is, man was to enter God’s seventh-day rest. But, as Hoeksema put it:

[T]he first man did not enter into the rest of God. He violated the covenant of God, denied his Sovereign-friend, and became a friend of Satan, the enemy of God. He fell, and the whole human race with him, into that which is the very antithesis of the Sabbath of the Lord, the labor and toil, the darkness and corruption, the guilt and unrest of sin, the wages of which is death. God had spoken of his rest to man, and the first man had despised the rest. And God had sworn that he should not enter into his rest. He was exiled and banished from God’s presence. The tabernacle of God had appeared in Paradise long enough to be shown as an image of glorious things, but in the first man Adam it could not be maintained and glorified. It was with man no longer.

The Shadow-Sabbath of the Old Testament was a type or a shadow of this 7th Day rest. Because the first Adam failed to enter that rest, a second Adam is needed to bring God’s people into this consummative rest. Therefore, in the OT the land of Canaan was that typological rest, pointing forwards to eschatological rest:

Hence, the very heart of that land was to be sought in the tabernacle and temple, where God dwelled with and among his people. Hence, too, Canaan was preeminently a Sabbath land, and in it the people must celebrate the weekly Sabbath, the Sabbaths of many special festivals, the sabbatical year, and the Year of Jubilee. Hence, too, the weekly Sabbath was a memorial in Israel to make them remember the great deliverance which God wrought for them when he liberated them from the yoke of bondage: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15). Joshua, therefore, had led the people of God into the rest which God had prepared for them.

In between the first and second coming of Christ, there is Resurrection-Sabbath. As God rested from His work on the 7th Day, which the Shadow-Sabbath was built upon, Christ rested from His work on the 1st Day. This Sabbath is for the NT believer until the return of Christ:

Yet, finally, even now, the Sabbath is not fully manifested. Spiritually and in principle indeed, the tabernacle of God is with men. We cease from works and have peace with God. But we are still living in a strange country. And though we do not battle to obtain, to merit the rest of God, yet we still must labor and fight because we possess the rest in principle. And in the world we shall have tribulation. Hence, while principally we have entered into the rest, the Sabbath is still presented to us in the light of the promise, and there still remains a rest for the people of God.

The Final-Sabbath is that 7th Day rest held out to Adam, but ultimately accomplished by the second Adam: “Then the work of God shall be finished and we shall enter with him into the eternal rest of perfect fellowship, the Sabbath of perfect activity to the praise and glory of him that loved us!”

Main Thrust of the Sabbath Day

Herman Bavinck taught that the Sabbath day is a symbol “of the eons of this dispensation that will in God’s own time culminate in the ‘day’ of eternal rest, the cosmic Sabbath (Heb. 4).”[9] This forward momentum of the people of God was present from the beginning: “[O]ur first parents did not yet enjoy the eternal heavenly Sabbath.”[10] The anticipation of the covenant of works, writes Meredith Kline, had a “sabbatical structure,” which evidences that we were “created in the image of the sabbatarian Creator.”[11] “By his Lord’s appointment,” Kline continues, “man was to experience the passage of time not as an indefinite, undefined string of mornings and evenings, but as a succession of weeks.”[12] Man is to work six days and then observe a Sabbath rest, just as God patterned to His people in Genesis 2. Kline continues:

From man God-ward the Sabbath was a sign of consecration; from God manward it was a sign of consummation. In giving man the Sabbath ordinance the Lord made a covenantal commitment, promising that triumphant royal rest was to crown the genealogical-cultural history of the family of Adam, in their faithful keeping of the covenant. As the garden of Eden was a space-sign, a replica of the whole cosmos as God’s dwelling, so the sabbatical week was a time-sign, a replica of the total history of man’s fulfillment of the cultural mandate after the pattern of God’s working in creation, with the Sabbath at the end of that week a promissory symbol of the hope of consummation. The Sabbath ordinance is covenantal privilege as well as covnantal duty, for it us always divine promise and divine demand together… To be like God was not just man’s duty, it was his very beatitude.[13]

God’s people are reminded that life is not meaningless or aimless, but that the goal “lies beyond” this earthly temporal history of weeks; we are moving toward what Beale calls “an eternal Sabbath of eschatological rest.”[14] To orient His people, God established a Sabbath day (Saturday in the Old Testament and Sunday in the New Testament), blessing and sanctifying the day. That is, God, in His moral law, set a day apart to be different from the other days of the week; its orientation is different, namely, eschatological.

The sabbatical stamp on history is seen in Daniel 9, as Daniel views both the Old and New Covenant eras sabbatically. Jeremiah prophesied (Jer. 25:11) that that there would be seventy years where God would force a Sabbath-rest on the land (Lev. 26:43; 2 Chron. 36:20- 21), because Israel failed to keep God’s command (Exo. 23:10-11). In this, each sabbatical year represented seven years. Daniel, perceiving the seventy years were almost up (Dan. 9:2), prophesies that another “Seventy ‘sevens’” (9:24, NIV) has been decreed, which is 490 years or 10 Jubilees. The symbolical seventy is broken down into seven, sixty-two, and one. That is, the seven weeks (of the seventy) represents the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-3; Isa. 44:28; Jer. 29:10), the sixty-two represents the time between the rebuilding of the temple and the coming of the Messiah, and the one week represents the time from the death of the Messiah to his second coming, when He will “bring in everlasting righteousness” (9:24). The sabbatical rhythm of history and the forward gaze toward the eternal Sabbath is seen clearly in this passage.[15]

“The Sabbath brings this principle of the eschatological structure of history,” writes Geerhardus Vos, “to bear upon the mind of man after a symbolical and a typical fashion.”[16] Vos continues, “The Sabbath is not in the first place a means of advancing religion. It has its main significance apart from that, in pointing forward to the eternal issues of life and history.”[17] Giving the purpose and structure of the day, Vos wonders if the church has been missing this thrust: “It is a serious question whether the modern church has not too much lost sight of this by making the day well-nigh exclusively an instrument of religious propaganda, at the expense of its eternity-typifying value.”[18] It is possible, he continues, to “crowd too much into the day that is merely subservient to religious propaganda, and to void it too much of the static, God-ward and heaven-ward directed occupation of piety.”[19] Indeed, it is a serious question as to whether our Sabbath-keeping is so stripped of any joyful anticipation of heaven, that it appears more boring and hellish than heavenly.

Given this, our definition of the Sabbath comes into focus. What else can the Sabbath be but a rhythm that joyfully anticipates the eschatological, consummative Sabbath yet to be enjoyed by the people of God? As pilgrims walking the narrow path to the heavenly city, the Sabbath’s heaven-oriented nature becomes all too important for our pilgrimage. “The pilgrim’s Sabbath,” writes John Muether, “becomes a symbol of heavenly citizenship, a sign of our true and only hope. It is a subversive tool to renounce the worldly idols of work, leisure, and consumption. It provides a weekly embodiment of the church’s pilgrim identity.”[20] By contrast, those who downplay the Sabbath often do so because of worldliness. Ryan McGraw gives this rebuke:

I am convinced that the modern aversion to keeping the Sabbath holy is, in part, a result of improper love for the world and a mistaken view of Christian living. The duties of the Sabbath serve as an irritant, aggravating the worldliness that has crept into the hearts and lives of God’s people.[21]

Tri-Perspectival Practice of the Day

The practice of Sabbath-keeping has looked dissimilar for the people of God under differing covenantal situation, with some circumstances under the Old Covenant not being applicable in the New (e.g., Exo. 16:23; 34:21; 35:3; Num. 15:32; Jer. 17:21). In the Old Covenant, the Sabbath had positive law built around it like scaffolding. In the New Covenant, writes Alistair Begg, “although the scaffolding disappears, the building remains.”[22] The difficulty, however, can be in determining where positive law ends and moral law begins, i.e., what was specific for theocratic Israel and what is applicable for the NT pilgrim church. In wrestling with the practical thrust of the Sabbath, some have taught that the day is merely a day of rest and replenishment. Others, have maintained that it is chiefly a day of worship. I, however, think it best to have a tri-perspectival view, for when one emphasis is permitted to overshadow the others, conflict ensues. For example, if rest is emphasized, laborious and tiresome service to others may well be avoided in the name of resting. If worship is emphasized above all others, those replenishing acts may very well be deemed inappropriate.

In the first perspective, the preponderance of early biblical data in the Pentateuch emphasizes physical rest from labor in order to “be refreshed” (Exo. 23:12). “The principle underlying the Sabbath is formulated in the Decalogue itself,” writes Vos, “it consists in this, that man must copy God in his course of life.”[23] As God worked six days and then rested, so too does man imitate God in this (Exo. 20:11). Besides works of necessity (e.g., health care, public safety, etc.), the people of God are to physically rest each Lord’s Day from their ordinary labors.

In the second perspective, the Sabbath is a day of worship: “From Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord” (Isa. 66:23). The people of God are to be involved in all levels of worship on the Sabbath: corporate (Heb. 10:25), family (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 11:19; Eph. 6:4), and private (Ps. 119:15; Matt. 6:6). As it is the Lord’s Day, so it is a day to set your minds on things above in a special way, different from the other six days. Attending both morning and evening services, Sunday School or Bible study, and fellowshipping with saints, are the ways in which the people of God are to worship throughout the day. Reading books, catechizing your children, singing hymns, and praying together are some of the ways the family can worship together in between church services. What is more, corporate worship is to be preferred to private worship; gathering with the saints to worship God should be prized over staying home and worshipping in private (Matt. 18:20; Heb. 10:25).

In the third perspective, the Sabbath is a day of service. When you look to how Christ spent His Sabbath, it was in serving others: “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?  Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:11-12). The Sabbath Day is a time when the people of God can look for opportunities to serve both those in the household of faith, as well as those outside (Gal. 6:10). Some people advise having a routine of serving each Lord’s Day (e.g., praying with people at a nursing home, visiting the sick, etc.).

Resting, worshipping, and serving are the ways in which the people of God spend their Sabbath Day. The thread that runs through each perspective and unites all three is the joyfully anticipation of the eschatological, consummative Sabbath yet to be enjoyed by the people of God. As we rest, worship, and serve, we are anticipating the eternal Sabbath.

Question on Recreation and Commerce

If our first reaction to the Sabbath is to ask, “So, what am I not allowed to do,” then our hearts are not in the right place. But as we understand the principle of the Sabbath, and as our hearts wax warm at the thought of spending one day out of seven in increased communion with our Lord, then we can begin to set some boundaries. We should plan our Sabbath days before they arrive, asking of each premeditated item, “Does this promote the purpose of the day”?

But what about recreation and commerce? Can these ever promote the purpose of the day? In the Old Testament, Nehemiah spoke against buying and selling on the Sabbath (10:31), and Isaiah spoke against pursuing “your own pleasure” on the Sabbath (58:13-14). What are we to make of these texts?

Beginning with recreation, Richard Gaffin says that “there is Recreation and then there is recreation.”[24] That is, there is a recreation that would be inappropriate for the people of God, and a recreation that is conducive to rest-taking. If recreation is prohibiting corporate, family, or private worship, or if it is getting in the way of rest and service, it is inappropriate. For example, going to a sporting event that takes up much of the day would probably violate the fourth commandment; taking your family to the park to toss a ball or watching a television show with your spouse after the kids are in bed, on the other hand, would not. These latter forms of recreation can serve one’s rest-taking. Rather than seeing a blanket prohibition on all forms of recreation, Isaiah seems to be pointing to something more specific. Robert Gonzales explains:

So the “way” and “pleasure” from which the Israelites are to refrain on the Sabbath is not recreation in this context. Rather, it’s a hypocritical religious ritual on the Sabbath that’s used as a cloak to cover the pursuit of one’s selfish and sinful agenda…. The Sabbath breakers of Isaiah 58:13, when viewed in the larger context, are not those who toss frisbees or ride bikes or play volleyball. Rather, they are the “religious.” They are those outwardly engaged in the public and private worship of Yahweh but inwardly engaged in their personal agenda of greed, exploitation of others, and godless living.[25]

What about commerce? It is often argued that if a Christian stops at a restaurant after church, for example, that he is breaking the Sabbath by causing others to work. Underlying this belief is the desire to strong-arm unbelievers into externally keeping the Sabbath by forcing them to stay home. If no Christian went out, it is argued, then the unbelievers would have to stay home as well.

It must be asked, however, if an unbeliever could keep Sabbath in the first place. To this, I must give a negative answer. Whether he works all day or stays home, he breaks the Sabbath. Hoeksema seems to be of this opinion as well:

I must nevertheless maintain that this is quite impossible, that the keeping of the Sabbath is a highly spiritual matter, an act of faith and hope that can be performed only by the Christian that professes in word and walk that he has become a stranger in this world and is looking forward to the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, to the eternal Sabbath that remains for the people of God.[26]

Meredith Kline elaborates:

Whether the Sabbath is viewed as God’s promise of the consummation of the covenant order or as man’s pledge of devotion to the covenant suzerain, it is always a sign of the covenant…. However, if we appreciate this essential connection of the Sabbath with the covenant, and especially if we recognize that the Sabbath is always covenantal promise and privilege as well as duty, we will avoid thinking of it abstractly as at any time after the Fall a universal ordinance of general application to the world at large. The Sabbath belongs to the covenant community exclusively.[27]

The Old Testament was clear with regard to commerce as it functioned under a theocracy, but in the New Covenant, as a pilgrim people passing through strange lands, it would not necessarily be a sin to, say, grab a pizza on the way to evening service. The unbelievers in these foreign lands have no way of Sabbath-keeping unless they repent and believe. As the Christian interacts with unbelievers working on the Sabbath, it could be a great opportunity for evangelism in hopes that someday they will join the people of God in resting, worshipping, and serving on the Lord’s Day instead of working.

One must, nevertheless, make sure the day is sanctified (i.e., set apart). If you go to a coffee shop every day, it might be best to keep Sunday different. After all, Sunday is not an extension of Saturday, but a day marked by an eschatological outlook. Our posture of resting, worshipping, and serving will necessarily minimize recreation and commerce on the day. However, as seen, in small amounts and with strategic deployment, they can serve and promote the purpose of the day. With that said, one may still choose to abstain from recreation and commerce for wisdom purposes. While it may be lawful for one to do said activities, one may wish to avoid sending mixed signals to unbelievers who work on the Lord’s Day (c.f., 1 Cor. 10:23). In a word, one’s freedom cannot be evoked in ways that functionally make void the fourth commandment.

The Spiritual Promise of Sabbath-Keeping

The Puritans referred to the Sabbath Day as a “market day of the soul.”[28] It is a day that is meant to be a spiritual blessing to each pilgrim walking the narrow path to Zion’s gate. Pipa brings our attention to the blessings of observing the Sabbath Day, stating, “In addition to the promises of exquisite pleasure in the Lord and victory over our [spiritual] enemies, He [God] promises a practical enjoyment of the benefits of our salvation [Isa. 58:13-14]”[29] These are the promises of God for those who remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.

The believer joyfully anticipates the eschatological, consummative Sabbath yet to be enjoyed by the people of God by being restored through rest, by partaking in worship, and by sacrificially serving and loving others. Like any other commandment, the believer will often fail. We must avoid legalism on the one hand, thinking we can be justified by our Sabbath-keeping, and also avoid antinomianism on the other hand, thinking it doesn’t matter, that we can just do what we want. The people of God strive to keep the Sabbath, though imperfectly, because we long for Christ to come and bring us into the eternal Sabbath rest that awaits us.

Desiring to keep the Sabbath day, nevertheless, will be difficult for us because of sin. We like to be autonomous and structure our weeks per our needs and desires. God requiring one whole day is an imposition to us. Bruce Ray rightly noted: “Rebellious people do not want to rest in God’s work or celebrate his creation. Like our first parents, we each want to be our own god. We want to rest in our own works and celebrate our own accomplishments.”[30] Often our rebellion will highlight various relationship problems we have with God:

Sunday is “Father’s Day,” and we have an appointment to meet Him. The child who asks “How short can the meeting be?” has a dysfunctional relationship problem—not an intellectual, theological problem—something is amiss in his fellowship with God.[31]

But as we strive to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isa. 58:13) and see each Sunday as a “Father’s Day,” as we long for the eternal Sabbath and for our faith to become sight, we will realize the spiritual, sanctification benefits of Sabbath-keeping.

What about the Reformed Confessions?

When it comes to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, a confession that I truly love, I believe 22.8 should be modified or stricken from the confession. Even if I thought it were true, I would still take an exception, for it goes far beyond merely describing what one ought to do on the Sabbath, even delving into what not to think about. As long as we can agree on 22.7, I see no reason to mandate a specific thought program for the Sabbath. Why separate from other Sabbatarian Christians who observe the Sabbath in slightly different ways, even while agreeing on many of its fundamental points?

Here are some of the more strict Puritanical confessional statements that, in my opinion, go beyond Scripture, and are thus in need of modification:

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. (LBCF 22.8)

The fourth commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words or works, about our worldly employments or recreations. (WSC. 61).

The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day. (WLC. 117)

Conclusion

As seen, the Sabbath was not abolished by the coming of the New Covenant; rather, the Resurrection-Sabbath, a new redemptive progression of the Sabbath, was inaugurated. That Sabbath is a day of rest, worship, and service, joyfully anticipating the eschatological, consummative Sabbath yet to be enjoyed by the people of God. Whereas the more strict Puritan view prohibits all forms of recreation and commerce, we have concluded that in intentional forms, they may actually serve the purpose of the day. Instead of thinking about recreation and commerce in black and white sin/not-sin categories, perhaps it is best to inspect our posture. Are we posturing ourselves eschatologically, or just treating Sunday like another Saturday? The Christian, however, will find that when he “calls the Sabbath a delight,” there are spiritual blessings involved.

© copyright J. Brandon Burks, 2016

Also see:

Is Public School an Option for Christians?

Theological Study = Spiritual Death?

Amillennialism vs. Historic Premillennialism

Covenant Theology: Presbyterian or Baptist?

Spanking Children: 36 Thoughts

[1]Daniel Block, “Preaching the Old Testament Law to New Testament Christians,” Hiphil 3 (2006) [http://see-j.net/hiphil]. Accessed 21/12/2016. Also see: Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom: How God’s Laws Guide Our Lives (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003), 103.

[2]G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 782. Also: Meredith G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2006), 79.

[3]Joseph A. Pipa Jr., The Lord’s Day (Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 1997), 115.

[4]Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 788.

[5]Ibid., 793.

[6]Pipa, The Lord’s Day, 104.

[7]Ibid., 96-97.

[8]This section is from Herma Hoeksema, “Proper Sabbath Observance: The Sojourner’s Sabbath,” in OPC (accessed 12/21/2016), https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=163.

[9]Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume, ed. by John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 295.

[10]Ibid., 333.

[11]Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 78.

[12]Ibid.

[13]Ibid., 80-81.

[14]Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 777.

[15]Meredith G. Kline, “The Covenant of the Seventieth Week,” https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/Kline,%20Meredith%20-%20The%20Covenant%20of%20the%20Seventieth%20W.pdf. Also: Vern S. Poythress, “Left Behind? Making Sense of the Days of Daniel,” in Westminster Theological Seminary Faculty Page (May 19, 2014), http://faculty.wts.edu/lectures/left-behind-making-sense-of-the-days-of-daniel/.

[16]Geerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology: Old and New Testaments (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth, 1975), 140.

[17]Ibid., 141.

[18]Ibid.

[19]Ibid.

[20]John R. Muether, “The Sabbath: Plausibility for Presbyterian Pilgrims,” in OPC (accessed 12/21/2016), https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=599.

[21]Ryan McGraw, The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 2011), 65.

[22]Begg, Pathway to Freedom. 103.

[23]Vos, Biblical Theology, 139.

[24]See: http://media1.wts.edu/media/audio/ww204-copyright.mp3

[25]Bob Gonzales, “Does All Worship and No Play Make Jack a Holy Boy? Sabbath-keeping according to Isaiah 58:13,” It Is Written: Promoting the Supremacy of Scripturehttp://drbobgonzales.com/2011/11/19/does-all-worship-and-no-play-make-jack-a-holy-boy-sabbath-keeping-according-to-isaiah-5813/.

[26]https://www.opc.org/nh.html?article_id=163

[27]Kline, Kingdom Prologue, 81,

[28]Pipa, The Lord’s Day, 41-50.

[29]Ibid., 13.

[30]Begg, Pathway to Freedom, 101.

[31]Sinclair Ferguson, “Sabbath Rest,” in Ligonier Ministry, http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/sabbath-rest/.