Lord’s Day 38: The Eternal Sabbath

Catechism and Psalter

A popular view of the fourth commandment in many theological circles classifies it as a part of the ceremonial law, distinct from the moral laws represented in the rest of the Decalogue.  Although the Heidelberg Catechism is silent on the nature of this command, it clearly assumes that observance of the Lord’s Day should shape the Christian life of gratitude as much as any other ordinance.  Yet the fourth commandment presents anything but a “go-to-church-at-least-once-every-Sunday” kind of legalism.  Rather, as the Catechism shows, it impresses upon us an attitude of worship from the heart every day of our lives, and an expectancy of “the eternal Sabbath” that awaits us in heaven.  Today, as we continue in URC Psalmody’s series through the Heidelberg Catechism, we’ll consider the teaching of Lord’s Day 38.

103 Q.  What is God’s will for us in the fourth commandment?

A.  First,
that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,
and that, especially on the festive day of rest,
I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people
to learn what God’s Word teaches,
to participate in the sacraments,
to pray to God publicly,
and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.

Second,
that every day of my life
I rest from my evil ways,
let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,
and so begin already in this life
the eternal Sabbath.

Suggested Songs

88, “The Lord is Great, with Worthy Praise” (Psalm 48)

“That, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people.”  Psalm 48 sets forth in glorious language the majesty of God’s holy city—for the Old Testament, Jerusalem; for the New Testament, the Church universal.  Many a pastor has pointed out that there can be no “lone ranger” Christians; it is not only natural but necessary for a follower of Christ to unite himself with the body of believers, which is itself Christ’s bride and Christ’s city.  As we “consider well her ramparts,” we ought to be compelled to join the rest of the Church universal in reverent worship.

The Lord is great; with worthy praise
Proclaim His power, His Name confess,
Within the city of our God,
Upon His mount of holiness.

Mount Zion, glorious and fair,
Gives joy to people in all lands;
The city of the mighty King
In majesty securely stands.

Within her dwellings for defense
Our God has made His presence known,
And hostile kings, in sudden fear,
Have fled as ships by tempests blown.

With our own eyes we have beheld
What oft our fathers told before,
That God who in His Zion dwells
Will keep her safely evermore.

263, “With Joy and Gladness in My Soul” (Psalm 122)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI)

“I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.”  Too often Christians tend to fall into one of two extremes with regard to observing the fourth commandment: we are either encouraged to ignore it entirely, or urged to follow it strictly in a sense of guilt.  According to the Catechism, neither pole is biblical.  It ought to be our heartfelt desire to assemble for corporate worship as we realize the immense benefits Sabbath observance offers for both our physical and spiritual health.  Psalm 122, as versified in the blue Psalter Hymnal, reflects this attitude.

With joy and gladness in my soul
I hear the call to prayer;
Let us go up to God’s own house
And bow before Him there.

We stand within thy sacred walls,
O Zion, blest for aye,
Wherein the people of the Lord
United homage pay.

O pray that Zion may be blest
And have abundant peace,
For all that love thee in their hearts
Shall prosper and increase.

7, “On the Good and Faithful” (Psalm 4)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI, and on YouTube)

“That every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.”  Psalm 4 speaks sweetly of the true spiritual rest we can enjoy as God’s children.

On the good and faithful
God has set His love;
When they call He sends them
Blessings from above.
Stand in awe and sin not,
Bid your heart be still;
Through the silent watches
Think upon His will.

Lay upon God’s altar
Good and loving deeds,
And in all things trust Him
To supply our needs.
Anxious and despairing,
Many walk in night;
But to those that fear Him,
God will send His light.

In God’s love abiding,
I have joy and peace
More than all the wicked,
Though their wealth increase.
In His care confiding,
I will sweetly sleep,
For the Lord, my Savior,
Will in safety keep.

159, “O Lord of Hosts, How Lovely” (Psalm 84)

(Sung by Cornerstone URC in Hudsonville, MI, and on YouTube)

The Psalter Hymnal contains four beautiful arrangements of Psalm 84, and this one serves as a wonderful summary of the message of this Lord’s Day.  The true Christian’s heart yearns for the dwelling place of his God; his fainting soul finds refreshment in worshiping among the saints.  If even the lowly sparrow finds a place of refuge in God’s house, should we not much more think of it as our abiding home, our retreat from the world’s storm?  For those who spend each day of their lives trying to “begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath,” God will see to it that “all the way to Zion/Their strength shall still increase.”

O Lord of hosts, how lovely
Thy tabernacles are;
For them my heart is yearning
In banishment afar.
My soul is longing, fainting,
Thy sacred courts to see;
My heart and flesh are crying,
O living God, for Thee.

Beneath Thy care the sparrow
Finds place for peaceful rest;
To keep her young in safety
The swallow finds a nest;
Then, Lord, my King Almighty,
Thy love will shelter me;
Beside Thy holy altar
My dwelling-place shall be.

Blest they who dwell in Zion,
Whose joy and strength Thou art;
Forever they will praise Thee,
Thy ways are in their heart.
Though tried, their tears like showers
Shall fill the springs of peace,
And all the way to Zion
Their strength shall still increase.

–MRK

Advertisements

Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Welcome to URC Psalmody

We hope you'll join us as we discuss music, worship, the psalms, the church, and much more here on URC Psalmody. You can learn about the purpose of this blog here. We look forward to to seeing you in the discussions!

With this feature, just enter your email address and you'll receive notifications of new posts on URC Psalmody by email!

Join 208 other followers

Categories


%d bloggers like this: