Doctrine of Religious Worship: Take off Thy Foot and Delight in the Sabbath
January 2, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith
Scripture: Isaiah 58
Quote - Henry Scudder, of the Westminster Assembly
It is not enough that you observe this day as a rest, but you must keep a holy rest. Which that you may do, you must, on your awaking in the morning, make a difference between it and other days, not thinking on any worldly business more than will serve for a general providence, to preserve you from great hurt or loss. Both in your lying awake, and rising in the morning, make use of the former directions, showing you how to awake and rise with God.
Rise early, if it will consist with your health, and not hinder your fitness for spiritual exercises through drowsiness afterward, that you may show forth God’s loving-kindness in the morning. Double your devotions on the Lord’s Day, as the Jews did their morning and evening sacrifice on the sabbath day.
Prepare yourself for the public holy services by reading, by meditation, and by putting away all filthiness; that is, repenting of every sin, and casting away the superfluity of. naughtiness: that is, let no sin be allowed or suffered to reign in you.
Then pray for yourself, and for the minister, that God would give him a mouth to speak, and you a heart to hear, as you both ought to do. All this, before you shall assemble for public worship.
Being thus prepared, bring your family with you to the church. Join with the minister and congregation. Set yourself as in the special presence of God, following the example of good Cornelius, with all reverence attending and consenting; saying Amen with understanding, faith, and affection, to the prayers uttered by the minister; believing and obeying, whatsoever is by him commanded you from God.
Afterward, by meditation, and by conference; and if you have opportunity, by repetitions, call to mind, and wisely and firmly lay up in your heart what you have learned. The like care must be had before, at, and after, the evening exercise.
Review/ Introduction -> Isaiah 58
Last week we continued our investigation into understanding:
- the type of worship that God requires – contrasted with
- the type of worship that Israel was offering to God.
First -> We did this by examining the first section of Isaiah 58 looking at God’s description and requirements related to fasting.
Second -> We then looked at the parallels shown in the text between fasting and honoring/ keeping the Sabbath.
There were 2 parallels that we discussed:
1st Parallel -> Propriety/ Right of Control/ Ownership
- the Lord owns the fast and the Lord owns the Sabbath
- the Lord claims the fast by calling it a “fast He has chosen”
- the Lord claims the Sabbath by declaring “Take your foot off of MY Holy Day.”
2nd Parallel -> Pleasure
- In the day of your fast you take all your pleasure you exact all your labors.
- He goes on to talk about that on the Sabbath day, it is not a day for our own pleasure.
An additional, Parallel -> Blessing & Cursing
- when undertaken, in sincerity, blessing follows whether fasting or Sabbath keeping properly, according to God’s requirements
- it is implied in the passage that when undertaken in hypocrisy, chastisement -> judgment, follow
Third -> we should keep in mind the kindness of the Lord
- Understand, it was a kindness from the Lord that the people of God should have their sins declared to them.
- While it is not popular and can be difficult and hard
- It is indeed a kindness from the Lord (and from others) when we lovingly, and graciously have our sins exposed and confronted so that we might correct them
- the lack of this understanding and the lack of preachers speaking hard truths only serve to show how far we have come from an obedient Christianity
When someone declares our sins to us, what is our first response?
- Who do you think you are?
- But that ought not always to be our response – especially to the Lord
Often, the Lord is kind enough to us to reveal to us our sins
- sometimes He sends a prophet
- sometimes He sends apostles
- sometimes He sends the scriptures
- sometimes He sends preachers
- sometimes He sends elders
- sometimes He sends Christian friends
- All so that we might have an opportunity to confess, forsake, repent, and renew.
This is rightfully to be seen as a gift from the Lord.
- And so, we should also think of fasting and of the Sabbath as a gift
- fasting, sabbathing, preaching, praise, prayer, all these are gifts from the Lord.
- that mere observance of a fast and the mere observance of the Sabbath is not really enough
- It is not the right appreciation of that gift
- We could be sabbathing by doing the bare minimum
- but it is really not enough
- there needs to be a right reckoning of the gift.
Unless we recognize them as a gift and have our hearts in line:
- then we are misusing these gifts
The Lord is teaching us, by way of a metaphor, how to properly observe and make use of the gifts he has given us.
- They are something that He owns.
- The Sabbath is not something that is ours to do with as we please
- There are parts of our time that are not our time.
- They are the Lord's time.
- He calls the day His own.
- We are to use His gifts and His day in the manner in which He intends.
Objection: There is no NT Sabbath Observance
A common objection today is there is no concept in the New Testament Church.
- God had a day in the Old Testament that he called His own
- but He does not have a day like that in the New Testament
- That was part of the Mosaic Law.
- The Lord does not require this in the New Testament.
The answer to that is, of course:
"No, it did not begin in the Mosaic law"
- The Sabbath is a creation ordinance, pre-Mosaic.
The Sabbath was established for man at the beginning of man's existence
- The Lord worked six days and rested one
- then He blessed the Sabbath day
- the first Sabbath of the world
The first seventh day of the world's existence was the 1st Sabbath Day
- Remember, God created Adam on the sixth day
- The sixth day had already begun before Adam existed
- So really Adam's first full day on earth was a Sabbath Day
- It was a day where he spent the day with God, resting and worshiping
- The Sabbath is not merely a mosaic institution.
Under the days of Moses, the Sabbath was expanded into particular ceremonies.
- There were Sabbath's *plural*, that pertained to the mosaic economy.
- There was a Sabbath of years (Leviticus 25:1-7)
- There was a Sabbath of Sabbath years - Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8-17)
- There was the seventh year when all of their fields were to live fallow. (Leviticus 25:21)
These additional sabbaths were particularly a Judaic institution
- So, when the Lord Jesus Christ abolished that Old Testament economy, he abolished those additional ceremonial Sabbath's
- But He also made sure to preserve the fourth commandment
The Sabbath remained, as far as the question of propriety is concerned.
- John, in the book of Revelation 1:10
- The apostle John is careful to tell us that He was in the spirit on the Lord's Day.
- He calls it the Lord's Day.
- That same example of propriety that we see here in Isaiah 58, is indeed in the days of the New Testament
Take Thy Foot off My Sabbath
The Lord compares the Sabbath day to that of property/ ownership.
- And by turning our foot away, he means stop treading on it like it was your own.
- Stop walking on it, like it was your own.
- He does not want us to act like we are the owners of it.
- It is a pretty simple concept
- But hard for us to learn, especially in this day of wholesale Sabbath day desecration.
- In this country, not too long ago
- people made sure that that that their tanks were full on Saturday.
- people made sure that they had groceries in the pantry on Saturday
- people made sure all preparations were made before Sunday, that they were ready for the Sabbath
What does it mean then to trample on his day?
- The Lord here presents the Sabbath as His, belonging to Him
- As the owner of it, His pleasure and disposition ought to be squarely in view and not our pleasure and disposition in view.
- If we treat the day as if it belongs to us, a day for our pleasure, we have robbed God of his property.
- We should consider the entire day as belonging to the Lord
- This is important. This is a common way of how the Lord's Day is trampled today.
- Imagine you go to your neighbor’s yard and say, you have enough…I will just take this one part and park my car in your yard.
- He might respond and say, "No, this is my yard. You cannot use it any way you please.”
- But that is what it is like saying to the Lord:
- Okay, I will go to church in the morning…
- but then the rest of the day is mine. I will try to think about you, though...
- Or I will go to church in the morning…
- but that is all, the rest is belongs to me
- Okay, I will go to church in the morning…
We do not call it the Lord's hour or the Lord's half day we call it the Lord's Day, because that is what the Bible calls it.
- Very clear, quite simple, when considered properly.
And yet there are so many today that attend church in the morning and believe that the rest of the day is theirs or they have other things that they use to trample the Sabbath day with.
- There is what is called the "cult of the family"
- You know, where we believe that Sunday is family day.
- But the Lord says it is His day.
- It is not a day to call family and friends over for dinner and a movie
- It is not the day we use to host our friends
- It is not the day we go to picnics or on long Sunday drives
- It is not the Lord's hours or hours
- It is not the Lord's half day
- It is the Lord's Day - as long as the sun is up
- We ought to consider the Lord’s Day as we consider the rest of the days of the week
- as far as their time is concerned, it should be one, approximate 24-hour day.
- That is what a day is.
- That is how we define the word day.
- That is how the Bible defined the day back in Genesis 1
- “yom” – the evening and the morning, from the sunset of one day to sunset of the next
- We ought to consider the Lord’s Day as we consider the rest of the days of the week
So, what does it mean then to have our foot upon the Sabbath?
- We do not have to wonder.
- The Lord tells us directly.
- It is indeed in the doing of our own pleasure.
- Here is what he says: your pleasure and mine are different.
- The Lord is telling us that it is our natural inclination, not to take *His* pleasure on the Sabbath, but to take our own.
- He is telling us this, so we will know it.
- He is telling us this, so we can deal with it.
- He is telling us this, so we will know our weakness and temptation to trample upon His holy day.
- He is giving us a loving kind of criticism, but it is criticism, nonetheless.
He is the Lord God of truth - and we must hear him.
As I mentioned to you last week, this is the day where the where the laborer gets to come into the palace.
- Here is what the Lord does on his holy day, he says,
- Come into my palace and dwell with me for a day.
- Come into the place where the best things are, and dwell with me.
- We are invited to come worship the Lord, where the best things are, where the refreshing is, and we respond with…
- No thanks, I will just come for a half day.
- Thank you, King. It is very gracious of you, but I have more important things that I want to do than spend time with you.
Our response might be “Can't we take pleasure in the Sabbath day?”
- Sure, you can.
- Pleasure can be found in worshiping the Lord
- Pleasure can be found in talking about the things of God.
- Pleasure is to be found in Him, in His things – not the world’s
- All those things we think we must do on the Sabbath instead of honoring the Lord do not bring real pleasure – it is only fleeting
- They only bring selfishness, covetousness, and dishonor to God
But real pleasure, lasting pleasure, is from the Lord. It is truly a delight.
The Sabbath is to be a Delight
The second principle of the Sabbath is that it is to be a delight.
Notice the second proposition in Isaiah 58:13.
- The word -> delight. It is delectable
- Let us say you go to a, you know, a fine restaurant, and you sit down at the table, and they bring you their best dish.
- It is something that you have never had before.
- You put it in your mouth, it just melts, and the flavors explode
- It is something that is delectable.
- It is one of those really fine things.
- It is like a fine wine, it is rare, delectable
It is not something that comes every day.
- It is one of those things that you reserve for incredibly special times.
- It is not like the regular meals you have the other days of the week.
- It is delectable.
That is the word the Lord uses all the Sabbath, delectable.
- Call it a delight.
- It is not like any other days.
- You do not have a Sabbath every day of the week.
- The Lord has not designed you for that.
- He has designed you for one day in seven to enjoy His delightful, His delectable things.
While our times of every day worship offers spiritual sustenance
- the Lord's Day is especially delectable and even more nourishing.
- In the following particulars.
- The ordinances are more plentiful
- The preaching (the hearing of God' word to rebuke, convict, correct, exhort, and encourage)
- The public reading of the Word (which is why we have the call to attention before reading)
- The communion of saints (the joining together, the recognition, the public declaration of our belonging to Christ, the spiritual nourishment that can come only from Him)
- The sacraments
- The public praise (which is why all of us are to sing)
- The benediction (this is the blessing given as we conclude and leave the Lord's Day service)
- We do not want to minimize the ordinances of every day.
- Some of these ordinances are meant for every day
- Some of these ordinances cannot and should not be observed outside the church
- We want to be thankful for what the Lord does give us every day of the week
- but on the days where he provides something delectable for us and he calls the Sabbath a delight.
- Not the Sabbath hour
- Not the Sabbath half hour
- But the Sabbath Day - A delight.
I am struggling because sometimes I do not feel as if it is a delight.
- If you are struggling with calling the Sabbath a delight…
- Do you think that staying home will contribute to you seeing the Sabbath as a delight?
- Or do you think observing the Sabbath and calling it a delight will help you start seeing it as a delight?
- If you said, observing the Sabbath, then you would be right.
- Staying at home will do nothing to improving your sense of delighting in the Sabbath.
- You will only be reinforcing to yourself that the things of God are not a delight to you after all.
Let us talk about getting ready to make a proper use of the Sabbath
- If you are going to go out to a nice dinner...
- do you come straight out from under the hood of the car, rushing to get there on time?
- are you rushing around cooking meals, doing laundry, or cleaning the house?
- do you show up just in time with sweat on your face, mud on your shoes, and in wrinkled clothes?
- Is that what you would call getting ready to enjoy the delectable things?
- No, we do not do that do we? What do we do?
- We clean ourselves up.
- We put on our best clothes.
- We do not pick out what we would like to lounge around on the couch after dinner to wear….
- We do not wear whatever is going to be appropriate for running around town hours after the fancy dinner.
- No, we pick out our best clothes and make sure they are well pressed and cleaned.
- We do not go to dinner yawning, struggling to stay away while the food is coming…
- We make sure we are well rested, so we can sit down and enjoy
- We do not rush right out of the restaurant in our zeal to get home
- We leave leisurely, full, satisfied, and thankful for the time
- This is the delightful thing of the Lord on the Sabbath day.
- Prepare for it.
- Dress up a little bit
- Get some rest the day before so you can be sure to be here.
- Treat it like the special thing.
- Treat it like the delectable thing that it is, and you will find it will be more delightful to you.
- Do this and it will become more delightful to you.
- John Flavel, in his catechism, asks and answers these questions:
- 12. May we continue our civil employment to the last moment of our common time?
- Except necessity or mercy urge us, we ought to break off before, and allow some time to prepare for the Sabbath, Luke xxiii. 54. And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.
- 13. What is the first inference from hence?
- That we have all great cause to be humbled for our Sabbath transgressions, either in our unpreparedness for it, our want [lack] of delight and spirituality in it, or the due government of our families as God requires.
- 14. What is the second inference from hence?
- That Christians on the Sabbath-day have a fair occasion and help to realize to themselves the heavenly state, in which they are to live abstract from the world, and God is to be all in all to them.
Sometimes you may not be able to cease from your civil employments.
Sometimes, in God's providence and for His own purposes, He's going to keep your busy up to the end of the night before the Sabbath.
Sometimes he may do that for his own purposes.
- But He is always going to do it to teach and to train you.
Treat the Sabbath as the Lord says, Call it a delight.
- Treat it like a delight.
Verse 13 - 14
- Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.
- Same Hebrew word.
- Delighting in the Sabbath is delighting in the Lord.
- Now, can we turn that over?
- Because if we do not delight in the Sabbath
- what does that say about our mind toward the Lord?
Let me show you one other parallel and we will deal with over the next couple of weeks.
- Notice what are we calling the Sabbath at that time?
- honorable that is the Hebrew word “kavad”
- to show respect, to esteem
- Now, “And shalt honor Him,” same word “kavad”
- Here is the parallel.
- If we delight in the Sabbath, we will delight in the Lord.
- If we glorify in the Sabbath, we will glorify the Lord.
- The language is clear.
- This is what the Prophet is saying.
- If we are not delighting in the Sabbath
- then it is questionable whether or not we are delighting in the Lord.
- And if we are not glorifying, making worthy and heavy and substantive the Sabbath day
- then we are not making worthy, weighty and substantive the Lord Himself.
Look at the opportunity that we have here to delight in the Sabbath, and thereby to delight in the Lord, to glorify the Sabbath day and therefore, to glorify the Lord.
- What a wonderful thing we have over the next couple of weeks
- Next, we will go to Ezekiel chapter 46 and explore what the prophet tells us about the Sabbath and how that applies to our day.
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