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Doctrine of Religious Worship - Refusing to Delight in the Sabbath

January 23, 2022 Series: Great Doctrines of the Christian Faith

Scripture: 1 Kings 89:1– 8:6


"When the ways of the Spirit of God are grievous and burdensome to us, – when we say, “When will the Sabbath be past, that we may exact all our labors? – when our delight and refreshment lies in earthly things, – we are unsuitable to Christ. May not his Spirit say, “Why do I still abide with these poor souls? I provide them joys unspeakable and glorious; but they refuse them, for perishing things. I provide them spiritual, eternal, abiding consolations, and it is all rejected for a thing of nought.”

- John Owen, Communion with God

Review- The Sabbath belongs to the Lord, not man

We began by looking at what the Prophet Isaiah was commanded to speak

  • The parallels between fasting and the Sabbath and the expectations

Turning away our foot from the Sabbath day

  • the Lord presents the Sabbath to us as a piece of property, and that should not be trampled by our feet. the Lord claims a propriety over the Sabbath
  • the Lord is the owner of it, the proprietor of the Sabbath day
    • just like a piece of property would be owned by someone

The distinction between the Lord’s pleasure and our pleasure

  • they are not always the same
  • but we should be doing the Lord’s pleasure - especially on His holy day

The Sabbath as a delight

  • we spent a couple of weeks talking about the Sabbath as a delight.
  • we talked about what it means to be delectable.
    • we talked about various examples to understand the word delectable
      • we talked about how incongruent it would be to call the Sabbath a delight and then refuse it for something mundane and ordinary

The greatness of the Sabbath as compared to other days

  • The ordinances of God are expanded on the Lord’s Day
  • There is sufficient provision given by the Lord for this Day
  • The Lord is more greatly magnified on this Day
  • The Church is more edified on this Day
  • The Sabbath is a gift from God to be a hedge against apostacy

The Sabbath is the Holy Day of the Lord

  • It is the Holy Possession of the Lord
  • It is to be consecrated, pure, and clean
  • It is to be set apart, separated, treated differently from the other days

The Sabbath is honorable

  • It means glorious, weighty, heavy, worthy All of the other days are not to be compared
    • Remember the scales & balances?
    • Remember the Hebrew mindset of weights?
  • It is a glorious day, a worthy day, a heavy day

The relationship: honoring the Sabbath and honoring the Lord

  • To the extent that we honor or glorify the Lord’s Day
  • is the extent we honor or glorify the Lord Himself this may have been really difficult for us to hear
  • the converse of this is true
    • To the very extent that we treat the Lord's Day as holy
    • To the extent that we endeavor to commune with the Lord and to partake of those delectables that He has set out for us.
      • We glorify Him
      • We honor Him.
    • And to the extent that we say, “No thanks, I've got other things to do.”
      • We do not glorify the Day ←→We do not glorify Him
      • We do not honor the Day ←→ We do not honor Him.

The relationship: delighting in the Sabbath/ delighting in the Lord

  • Isaiah said, “then thou shalt delight thyself in the Lord”
    • when/ if you call the Sabbath a delight
    • when/ if you take your foot from off the Sabbath
    • when/ if you call the Sabbath Holy
    • when/ if you call the Sabbath glorious
  • There is a relationship between how we treat the Sabbath day and how we treat Him.
    • If we treat the Sabbath day, as the Lord's hour, we come to church, we get church over with so we can get to our own stuff, then that has a tendency to bleed over in how we treat the Lord
  • This is the word of the Prophet

Refusing to Delight -> Condemned in Scripture

Refusing to call or to treat the Sabbath as a delight is condemned in Scripture

First: Amos 8:1-6

  • Notice that there is something going on here that bleeds over, into the way Holy Days of the Old Testament are observed.
    • There were a couple of different recurring days
      • New moons → The Lord commanded Moses that when there was a new moon every month, they would hold a church service, a solemn assembly (Numbers 10)
      • Weekly Sabbath → to be observed every week
    • Notice what the people are doing.
      • They are lamenting the length of the day
      • They want them to be over sooner - to get on with their business
      • When will the new moon be over?
      • When will the Sabbath be done?
    • Notice it is possible for us to think and act in a similar way.
      • When will the service be over so I can go home and rest?
      • When will it be over, so I can do what I had planned for today?
    • Also notice, these people were professing to keep the Sabbath.
      • They were just wanting it to be over sooner for their own reasons, pleasures, benefits, etc.…

Second: Nehemiah 13:15-22

  • Nehemiah is the governor of the land.
  • He is behaving as a good magistrate, as a good governor
  • He is protecting his people from themselves → this is very clear
    • Otherwise, they would buy and sell and trade on the Sabbath day
    • Otherwise, they would be dishonoring the Sabbath
  • He is also forbidding them from coming through the gates of Jerusalem
    • they shut the gate at the start of the Sabbath
    • instead, they lodged right outside the gate.
      • They are not concerned with the Sabbath at all.
      • They wanted to be there right at the gate when the Sabbath was over so that they could get their business done.
      • They were anxious for the Sabbath to be over
        • just like the men in Amos 8
      • Can you see the connections?
        • They were not calling the Sabbath a delight.
        • They were calling the Sabbath an inconvenience.
        • They were calling the Sabbath a hindrance.
          • It was getting in the way of what they wanted to do.
          • It was getting in the way of their jobs, their money.
          • It was getting in the way of their pleasures and comforts.

Third: Malachi 1:11-13

  • The subject is the Name of the Lord.
  • The heathen are honoring His name.
  • But God’s people are not.
    • they are rejecting the delectable things of the Lord
    • they are calling the holy things of the Lord weariness


We've seen a similar attitude and ways in which people fight and rebel against the Sabbath in all of these passages

  • People are refusing to delight in the Sabbath. People are refusing to delight in the Lord.
  • People are treating the Sabbath as something that stands in the way of their own freedom
    • of their own things
    • of their own doings
    • of their own buying and selling and trading
      • of their own _ fill in the blank -> rest recreation leisure, etc.
    • In Amos 8 → How soon will it end?
    • in Nehemiah 13 → I’m going to spend the day getting ready for what is really important…buying and selling tomorrow.
    • in Malachi 1 → It is all weariness and not worth my time.


Objection: We are spending too much time in Isaiah 58

Confession Chapter 21, Article 1

Religious worship is that in which we fear, love, praise, call upon, and serve the infinitely holy, infinitely perfect Lord and Sovereign with all our heart, soul, and might.

This has been our primary objective

  • to understand how God has prescribed we do this, how to worship

The Scriptures are clear, in most place

We have seen the Scriptures do speak plainly about keeping the Sabbath

  • But we, in general, have forgotten what the Scripture teaches
  • But we, in general, have laid our own opinions over the top
  • The Lord called Abraham out of the world in Genesis and began revealing promises to him
    • Notice how the Lord describes Himself to Abraham in Genesis 15.
    • He says, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”

We ought not forget how God describes Himself.

  • We ought not to think He is our reward only upon death - He is our exceeding great reward in life too!
    • If we are to delight in the Sabbath and, therefore, delight in the Lord
      • we must remember that He is our shining shield
      • we must remember that He is our exceeding great reward
      • we must remember the great gift of the Sabbath
      • we must delight in seeking Him on the Sabbath
      • we must arrange our entire week
        • so that we are ready and prepared to delight in the Sabbath
      • we must guard our Sabbath
        • so lesser things do not compete with the Lord
        • so lesser things do not compete with His Honorable Day

Consider: Is this the response of a Christian delighting in the Lord?

  • I can't wait till my Bible reading is over. I can't wait till family worships over.
  • I can't wait till my memory work is done.
  • I can't wait till I put in my 10 or 15 minutes
  • I’ll just skip it today — it isn’t that important after all
  • I can just get on with the stuff I really want to do.

Response: This is the response of a Christian delighting in the Lord

  • I get to pray and read and study every day
    • and, wow, the Sabbath is so much more!
  • It’s that time already?
    • I can’t believe I’ve been reading my Bible that long
    • Family worship is over already?
  • No, I can’t do that on Sunday…
    • because I have a standing arrangement with my Lord and Savior.
  • Hey, I’ve got to head to church so I can get there early enough to rightly prepare my mind before the service begins.
  • It is not/ should not be “I have to”.
  • Rather it is/ should be “I want to “

It is delighting in the Lord above all else.

And this is what we are reminding ourselves to keep in the forefront.

Objection: The Sabbath was made for man

Mark 2:27-28

  • Christ is informing us of the proper use of the Sabbath
  • Christ is speaking against the spirit of traditionalism
  • The Sabbath was created for giving life to the soul, rest for devotion
  • The Sabbath was created for the good of man
    • It is important to understand whose definition of “good” to use
    • “Good” is to be understood through God’s determination
      • It is good for man, required for man, to attend worship
      • It is good for man, required for man, to keep this day holy
    • The Sabbath is not for man to do as he pleases or as he wants
  • There is a much broader point being made than is normally understood.
  • It is not that man is Lord of the Sabbath
    • Christ is Lord of the Sabbath
    • As Lord, He dictates what is acceptable and how it is to be observed
  • Notice the subject of entire chapter.
    • Jesus is addressing several misunderstandings of the Jews
    • They had become legalistic and works based in their religion
  • The end of the chapter
    • Jesus tells them that the Sabbath is not about the many rules and restrictions man must perform to honor the Sabbath
    • The Sabbath, He says, was made for man
    • Meaning – it was made for man to be refreshed in the Lord
      • For His benefit, comfort, and rest --- not for heavy burdens

OBJECTION – I have special reasons why I cannot attend

“I’m too busy” or “I am too tired” or “I need to work” or….”

  • Do you think God is commanding you to come worship Him knowing that it is causing you to suffer?
  • Of course not.
    • He is calling you to worship so that you might be refreshed in Him
  • Do you not know God?
    • Do you not think He is able to bless you sufficiently the other 6 days of the week so that you are free to attend upon Him?
  • Israel was commanded to let the land rest every 7th year (Lev. 25:20-23)
    • And yet God provided
  • Israel was commanded to not gather manna on the Sabbath (Ex. 16:22)
    • And yet God provided
  • Is God now, somehow incapable of providing for His people for honoring the Sabbath such that we have to take matters in our own hands?

Every time we choose our own desires, comforts, pleasures….

Every time we choose to not go to corporate worship because

  • We don’t feel like it or We don’t feel good (not sick, mind you…)
  • Or whatever ever reason where we are not providentially hindered

We are placing our foot on the Sabbath.

We are declaring ourselves to know better than God

We are expecting that since we think we have a good reason, He must agree

  • because, after all, God is altogether like us…isn’t He? (Psalm 50:21)

Every time you exclude yourself from corporate worship

  • you are, in effect, excommunicating yourself from the visible church.
  • you are declaring your independence from God and His ordinances
    • You are declaring your superiority, control, and mastery over God
      • By demonstrating He can say whatever He wants
      • By demonstrating the Bible can say whatever it wants
    • But that I (you) (we) know better and choose for ourselves.

Next Week

Thus far, we’ve looked at what the Prophet was commanded to speak in Isaiah

  • We’ve explored the urgency of the message from the Prophet
  • We’ve explored the current state of Sabbath observance
  • We've explored the parallels between fasting and the Sabbath.
  • We’ve explored what it means to delight in the Sabbath
  • We’ve explored the connection with delighting in the Lord
  • We’ve explored the holiness, weightiness, the propriety of the Sabbath

Next, in our conclusion to this series,

  • We’ll look at the practice of God's people with respect to the Sabbath.
    • At that which the Lord pressed upon them in the Old Testament
    • Why they worshiped.
    • When they worshiped.
    • How they worshiped.
  • We’ll look at the understanding they had about worship in the morning and in the evening?
  • We'll talk about day the Old Testament Church got together for worship
  • We’ll look at whether the Lord has distinguished Sabbath day worship from other days of worship.
  • Then we’ll conclude by working through Chapter 21 of the Confession, Religious Worship, and the Sabbath-Day.

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