Vespers – Spurgeon’s Question 51

‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.

  • Leviticus 23:3

“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.”

  • Exodus 16:25-29

This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.

  • Jeremiah 17:21-22

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,

  • Psalms 92:1-2

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,

  • Luke 4:16

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

  • Isaiah 58:13-14

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

  • Acts 20:7

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

  • Matthew 12:11-12

The Larger Catechism’s Scripture Proofs:

1. Exod. 20:8, 10.
2. Jer. 17:21, 22; Exod. 16:25–29; Neh. 13:15–22.
3. Matt. 12:1–14.
4. Lev. 23:3; Isa. 58:13; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7.
5. Exod. 20:8; Luke 23:54, 56; Neh. 13:19

“Q. 51. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
“A. 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 (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2, Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Catechism (Scripture proofs in bold above)

“Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
“A. 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 Shorter Catechism (Westminster Assembly)

“Q. 117. How is the Sabbath or Lord’s Day to be sanctified?
“A. The Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, is to be sanctified by an holy resting all that 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 exercise 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 to dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of the day.”

  • The Larger Catechism (Westminster Assembly)

The Shorter and Spurgeon catechisms have the same wording, with very slightly different punctuation.  The Shorter adds a few extra biblical proofs.  As usual, the Larger Catechism is larger in detail and biblical proofs.  Due to the “largeness” of the Larger Catechism, each point having its on biblical proof, I just listed the Scripture references.

As for writing posts like this, since I make no money in writing this, the writing activity could be encompassed in the umbrella of exercising God’s worship.  This also covers pastors preaching sermons and directing the worship of the congregation.

The caveat regarding acts of necessity or mercy uses the biblical proof of a rebuke that Jesus gives the Pharisees. Even in this rebuke, He does not clearly condone the act, but suggests that such acts of necessity and mercy fall under the broader umbrella of doing good for others as an expression of worship toward God.

In some ways, this question reintroduces a great deal of legalism and layers to an onion of life.  At one point, how does it go from being worshipful necessity and mercy to being an extension of your work week?  If we delve into the layers that are peeled away one at a time, getting a lawyer to write a legal brief on the definition for each layer of that particular onion, we could get more laws for the Sabbath than the Pharisees had.

It is much easier to understand that Jesus has the desire to have a relationship with each of us.  We should spend as much of that day in worshipping the King of kings.  And if the neighbor’s cows get loose through a break in the fence, it is of necessity and mercy that you herd the cows back into the pasture and help the neighbor mend the fence.  That act might save a life if a motorist runs into a cow at highway speeds.

Of course, I used cows on the road as an example as I did in a previous post when my Dad and I herded a neighbors cows that were on the road.  Giving CPR to someone who collapses in the church parking lot is another example.  When you are looking at loss of life, destruction of public or private property (and maybe not your own), instincts come into play.  If you truly love your neighbor and you have the skills and knowledge to do the task, it should become instinctive.  Then, when the emergency is over you can praise God rather than worrying if you did work that violated the sanctity of the Sabbath.

And now let us sing.

The following song is Peace, Perfect Peace, sung by the Acapella Company.  The video provides the words and music to sing along, but the middle verse is different.  Odd, one of my old hymnals has six verses.  The additional verse is unlike the one used on the video.  This may be common among many hymnals.  The composer could have written 8-10 verses and then to shorten it for a hymnal, different publishers would cut different verses.  And in some cases, additional verses are added without giving credit for the person adding the extra verse.  Sing whatever verses you want to about the hymn that worships God, talks about doing the will of God – as a definition of rest, and speaks of our eternal rest.  I think it covers the Sabbath day quite well.

1 Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

2 Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

3 Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

4 Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

5 It is enough: earth’s struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call to heaven’s perfect peace.

  • Edward Henry Bickersteth, Peace, Perfect Peace

Closing Prayer

Dear Lord,
We need You.  We need to focus our lives on You so that every day is a worship day, but we know we need our rest.  We know that doing Your will is the very definition of rest.  Too often we ignore that rest to get one more thing done.  That one thing can wait.  We need to focus on You, Your kingdom, and Your will for our lives.
In thy Name we pray.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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