THAT EXUBERANT DAY OF REST!
Christ the Creator
and the Celestial Regality
There follows an account of the Gist and thrust,
the word of God to man on the day of rest.
There are attached to this, such comforting
and comprehensive divine promises, as it would
seem remiss for one to omit in our topic,
in any work on Biblical blessing, however short.
This Chapter, here slightly revised and extended, has appeared before, but in view of the long Appendix to it, Ch. 5 which follows, it has seemed best to present it here as an introduction.
God will provide 'rest from their labours' for all the saints who, having completed their pilgrimage on this fascinating, challenging and great opportunity, life on earth, return to their Maker (Revelation 14:13, II Corinthians 4:165:3, Revelation 7:13-17, I Thessalonians 5:9-10, John 5:24, Roman 10:14). Here is the eternal rest which is from the toils and suffering of sailing in the distressed seas of humanity, when that phase is past; here is the rest which, following the INTERNAL REST which Christ provides NOW (Matthew 11: 28 29), becomes EXTERNAL, with works 'following' in this His rest, as the wake follows a speedboat which suddenly stops its career across the waters.
But NOW ? Now EVERY seventh day there is a DAY OF REST, a preliminary instalment in ONE sense, of that eternal rest. HERE there is to be a cessation of the grind of body or mind, of the toil to produce in terms of one's obligations and career, commission, task.
There is to consider first, the COMMAND to this effect, found in Exodus
The SABBATH day: it is a term meaning 'cessation' day. GOD created and CEASED; and so we labour, and CEASE. THAT is the reason given in the ten commandments; and that is BASED on something that HAPPENED. It cannot unhappen. There is no way God's statement that we (in His image as creations Genesis 1:26) rest BECAUSE He did, can be removed.
WE are fulfilling what HE did, in image form; and this is a stated requirement on THAT basis. Remove the creation ... and then you may have some appearance of a case! till then, you have nothing to do except TAKE WITH the creation, this requirement ... Rest, one day in seven: initially for the creation, Now for the re-creation in Christ Jesus, by whom salvation may replace slavery to sins without God, psychic squalor. But let us begin at the beginning, with the prophet Isaiah, himself called the evangelical prophet, because he looked forward to the Messiah, the Christ with profound depth and multiple detail. "Sabbath" means ... REST. Where and in whom this is to be found is seen in Isaiah 11:1-10. But REST: it is all a matter of rest. THERE IS EVEN A SPECIFIC PROVISION FOR IT, TIME-WISE, ECHOING THE COVENANT, WHETHER OLD OR NEW, IN ITS OWN WAY.
2) REQUIREMENT ? It is a delight, a provision, a management kindness, a Creator's judicious thoughtfulness, a marvel of abundance, a luxury of joy, to be able as a DUTY to STOP. Do you ever consider that IF what you are doing is not much, or not really taxing, then stopping might seem a little less delightful? In fact, ONE way to find whether what one is doing is indeed a heavy use of talents, is the joy in finding, 'AH, it is the DAY OF REST, and now I will be still!' It therefore has this practical diagnostic payload as well! DELIGHT ? Yes, I did not invent that thought. Look at Isaiah 58:1314*1 . Here the prophet Isaiah gives the INWARD and directly SPIRITUAL realities in view. You are NOT to tread on the day of rest; not to make it possess 'my pleasure day' scenario. Instead, you are to call it 'a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable'. Thus it is an opportunity to spend time with less intrusion, with the ONE you love, with the GRACE of His presence, the COMFORT, CONSOLIDATION and CLEANING of His friendship and function, with the PASTOR over all, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You CEASE (remember , 'cessation' ?) from your own ways; it is not even a day to fulfil your temperament. It is a day... FOR THE LORD. IF you love Him, it will not be onerous. Imagine having a date with your girl friend, and battling to avoid it! It can therefore also be a TEST OF SINCERITY! SHE would be quick to discern if it were a bore, an intrusion for you.
If then you expect HONOURABLE reality in courtship before marriage, preparing for a companionship for a lifetime on earth, WHAT is to be expected for a pilgrimage with the LORD, leading to the pure and exquisite delight of friendship with the ALMIGHTY FOR EVER! Take then this thing not lightly! It is a lifeline. DO NOT even make it a time for blather do not 'speak your own words', says Isaiah.
Quite simply you are FREE: BUT consider the implications of what you do:
DOES THIS ACTION HELP the holy purpose of the day ? It is NOT a time to judge this or that interpretation of rest, as swimming or walking before the Lord with Him in view; it IS a time to judge for oneself.
3) JUDGE ? Yes, alas, man is prone to judge; but GOD is judge. Now this GOD judges, that MAN IS NOT MADE FOR THE SABBATH BUT THE SABBATH FOR MAN (Mark 2:2728). CHRIST DID a work of casual mercy, something which came up, on the SABBATH, and HIS FATHER was working in this with HIM as HE was using the format of MAN for Himself (being incarnated).
Yes a work of mercy is not awry or amiss on the DAY OF REST. ALSO, CHRIST is explicit in HAVING LORDSHIP OVER THE DAY OF REST. HE CLAIMS a divine sovereignty even over this provision, not teaching that we DO NOT CEASE from our labours as provided on the basis that GOD RESTED after six creative days; but showing the deeper meaning. The prerogative is HIS as Moses made clear in Deuteronomy 18:1819, speaking of that prophet to come ... who would be 'raised up', often shown as the MESSIAH in the prophets (cf. Luke 24:25ff.) HE must take precedence. We must see WHAT then HE said; and this is BOTH that He came to fulfil, not to abrogate or annul the Law; and that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 5:1719, Mark 2 as above).
4) But JUDGE ? THIS God has judged; yet WE must not act as judges. Of course what HE SAYS is binding and this HE has judged already.
It is however when HE forbids certain actions that we must heed.
HE (Colossians 2:14-17 cf. Hebrews 10:1ff.) judges that NO MAN may judge another with respect to sabbaths. The whole range of sabbaths (rest could be specially proclaimed as well as on the seventh day), IN THEIR SHADOW FORM, this was NO MORE to be a subject for particular judgment (i.e. by APPLYING the law to a case clearly covered by it). The Sabbath as defined by external symbols COULD NO MORE be judged. The Sabbath as defined with reference to the FUTURE, this could no more be judged. That is what Paul is saying. This double exclusion attested the point at issue. The weekly Sabbath applied to the past, not to the future, and so is excluded, nor could the externalia of symbolism be judged, for shadows were completed in substance.
There was thus only one possible reason for the reference. THAT PART of the law which was a shadow (as defined in Hebrews 10:1ff.) or symbol (Colossians 2:17 in our immediate context), which Christ had fulfilled, the part which was in line with new moon ceremonies, feasts and the like: THIS was OUT. Examples of the provisions which would relate to the exclusion, include the death penalty for picking up sticks on the Sabbath a severe, symbolic provision to impart sensitivity to the issues involved (cf. Romans 7:13, Galatians 4:2,9). The RITUAL, CEREMONY and MULTIPLIED DETAILS are GONE. The new rest day is for rest indeed, but not for ritual rest, for its issuance is freely from the bosom of Christ, where the blood flowed to excise penalty, and to introduce through grace, a liberty which yet did not undo creation specifications, or moral immutabilities, but rather as Paul declares, ESTABLISHED them (Romans 3:31).
Christ did not however abort the law, as He said (Matthew 5:1719). HE has made it clear where the process stops, in fulfilment. "I did not come to abort the law (abolish) or the prophets," He said." I did not come to abolish but to fulfil." He went on to say that not one jot or tittle of the law would pass till ALL was fulfilled. God says it; God means it; God DOES it. He is a fulfiller, not an abolitionist, of HIS OWN WORD.
The rendering 'sabbaths' is normally taken to refer, then to the monthly, various, yearly or other ceremonies of rest, and in context the issue is the entire area of ceremonial multiplication, though future reference only is in view, and that excludes the past referring basic weekly sabbath. .
Christ did not then abort the law. He removed shadows, symbols into substance. He did not reconstitute man; He redeemed men. He did not remake nature; He restored man in nature.
GOD has not ceased, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, to be the Creator in 6 days who rested on the seventh. Man has not ceased to be the creation to whom this is tied by virtue of imagebearing from God. The 10 commandments do not fail because Christ has died: for these are modes of life, not rituals or ceremony such as Colossians 2:16 lists, and Colossians 2:17 defines for 2:16. Thus the rests in view in 2:16 are statedly relating to things to come; this is the substance for the ritual rests mentioned. The rest which is THE sabbath, that however, is of things defined as PAST. The two are in this defined respect, opposites.
The law, then, is 'ESTABLISHED', not annulled, as Paul says (Romans 3:31). Its fulfilled portions are incorporated in Christ's atonement, all the symbolism that was for 'minors', as Galatians 4 depicts. Of age, Paul teaches there, we now see direct to the core of things.
This however does NOT mean we surrender the core. To retain the core is not to dispense with it. Quite the contrary; it focusses the core, it is established as the apostle teaches.
The skin of the banana is off; but the fruit remains. The symbols and ceremonies of an earlier phase are fulfilled (Hebrews 9 & 10, Isaiah 22:2125). The truth however remains. The truth ? it is that God created the world in 6 days and that THEREFORE, as thus CONSTRUCTED by THIS CREATOR, so we have likewise been INSTRUCTED by the Creator, we rest too. He SAID it. He declared the REASON for it; and the reason is non-dispensable. It is something that has already happened. It is moreover something which has led to our existence at His hand, to which He refers in laying down this stipulation, which thus nothing can 'fulfil', for we exist already. Nothing can 'fulfil' a creation which was good; it can only annul it, or despoil it! That however is not the point. God declares how we must CONSERVE it. The stipulation is historically based and unconditional.
The Rest did not Commence Yesterday, but was Highlighted
As we may readily see, the rest of spirit to which Christ referred was already in place in the Old Covenant (Psalm 32 where iniquity is not imputed, Psalm 95 where a spiritual rest was ignored, though is shown available, and Isaiah 63:14 where the picture is exquisite in terms of rest from the Lord, Psalm 16:9-11, where the rest in the power of the all-protective and all-sufficient God is in view). Christ does not fulfil a creation-format rest by supplying a salvation from the sin which defiled the creation. He rescues from sin, not from being a creation. It is not to de-nature us, but to restore us that is His desire: and that, to the Lord, who made us, and that in His image!
Indeed, we are a new creation in Him such that God restores the "new man which has been created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness", and Christians "have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him" - Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10. NOT ONLY, therefore, is there the continuity of the very same IMAGE that man has, that is, made in the image of God, but there is a renewal ACCORDING to that image.
Now as to THAT image, its genesis, its first creation divinely is shown to determine its rest sequence; just as its salvation determines the day on which this need is to be celebrated, so that the rest that passes all rests can be symbolised as basic to the rest which is natural to such a creation as this. The nearest you get to a new 'rest' is verbal: restoration! But restoration is to that which was so created by THIS Creator, that on account of the mode of the creation, HE has declared that a serial character is to manifest in its rest. Without doubt, dispensationalism is a major reason for confusion of the explicit and the obvious in this regard, for the word of God is quite clear. On that topic, then, some may wish now to turn to Deliver us from Dispensationalism and from Sovereignty without a Sovereign, in this volume.
It is a monumental perversion of the truth to seek to annul the facts, or the divine perspective as stated by God. As Isaiah says in the chapter after 58* ( the 'Sabbath' stressing verses are here), indeed, in 59:21 the words the prophet gives will go on throughout the generations: "My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants, says the Lord, from this time and forevermore."
The Gospel is here and the REST day is here and so is the FREE gospel, the divine COMMANDER in flesh, the bearing of sin, the rising from the dead. It is all here and it is all as it was to be. It is Isaiah who is the "evangelical prophet" who proclaimed in advance the Gospel (53,11,2,22,4042,49 etc.) and the coming into grace of the Gentiles (Isaiah 65:1316); and the word stands. It cannot do anything else, for it is God who speaks it (Isaiah 43:13, 44:26-28).
Judges and Judgmentalism
How then may we not judge even by applying the word of God ? In sabbaths and new moons, and so on, says Paul in Colossians, we may not. Why ? Because, being fulfilled in this, it is no longer operative. In respect of forms, contradistinct from the reality, the truth of the matter (Colossians 2:17), sabbaths do not apply.
What then remains here ? Christ who came not to annul but to fulfil... Did He 'fulfil' that God rested on the 7th day ? THAT would be to contradict history, not to fulfil; and to contradict He did not come, we learn from His lips. He redeemed; but He did not deny our creation or what followed from it ... like periodicity of rest on the divine model.
We do indeed 'enter into our rest' ( Hebrews 4 with Psalm 95:7; Isaiah 63:14, 11:10), in Christ, who did not annul the truth but exposed it most beautifully. In Him we rest, obedient to the explicit will of God; catered for and covenantally covered by His blood, we rest in a free salvation provided by grace. We do not however prosecute this rest by denying our correlative format, our image from the Creator*2 and the rest as statedly consequent upon this.
Reverence for the word of God does not make a sort of plastic key for undoing anything at all in the word of God. (The rest cited in Hebrews comes from a quotation in the Old Covenant, headed, TODAY!, the offer being then current.) Christ, then, gives rest in redemption; but He does not perform this by deleting our image and the gracious counsel which God has pronounced on that basis; He does not give us rest from our 'works' by deleting our day of rest, from working that we might rest in it. Our creative status remains, is rectified to the rest that is in Him, but it is neither defiled, nor deformed, nor essentially altered in pattern by this; rather is it renewed, restored to holiness, of which this rest is part, in its created condition as specified quite clearly by God.
Thus, and let us re-affirm this, we read in Colossians 3:10 that the Christian has: put on the new man who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of Him who created him (NASB).; and in Ephesians 4:24 that we are to put on the new man who (NKJV): was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness. This is the Biblical perspective, and this we must follow*3.
No judgment on FORMS ( a 'shadow') then, is to occur, because THAT IS fulfilled; but as to the SUBSTANCE, the truth, God has not altered. He knew what He meant from the beginning and said it. He does not change and in Him is no shadow of turning. He may make progressive but not regressive revelation, has no need of revisionism; the word of the Lord, unlike the grass of the field, stands forever (1 Peter 1:24).
is Not Spiritually Applicable:
Buds of Revelation Have Blooms, not Rust -
3rd day bloom
The word of God is never outmoded, only fulfilled. He does not
(1 Timothy 2:13). Abraham indeed was saved by the same faith as we have (Romans 4:212,2325). What then did Christ DO relative to the DAY of REST, as 'Lord even of the Sabbath' (Matthew 12:8)*3A, which could no more be bound in its symbolic forms, but had to remain in its DAY OF REST essence ?
He appeared on a Sunday, so producing rest instead of restlessness, and giving occasion for worship of Himself (which happened in fact), in particular on the part of Thomas (John 20:1923).
Why did He not so come with SUCH rest on Saturday, the Sabbath that commemorated God's creation ? It is this: He was as to body STILL IN THE GRAVE, on the day. No House for rest came to the troubled disciples because of that (cf. Luke 24:1921). Quite the contrary was the trend. The incarnate God did NOT appear on that Saturday in the redemptive plan; the work of the resurrection was NOT then performed. He waited till a new day for the completion of a new work, the greatest of all, the resurrection after sin-bearing!
Now notice this, that Paul says in Romans 4:2425, of Christians, concerning the righteousness of God: "It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up for our offences, and was raised up for our justification."
v "Therefore," says Romans 5:1,
v "having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Having been justified" --- cf. Romans 5:9, where it recurs. Justification is already wrought on the Christian who therefore WILL be glorified as Romans 8:30 declares (see Chapter 15, infra – “CHRISTIAN ASSURANCE").
There is rest: justified NOW, now that HE, the Christ, the Messiah is raised up, the soul has rest in Him. There is the essence of rest, reception into eternal life and assured companionship with God as Creator, Redeemer and Guarantor, as friend (Romans 8:3239) - for ever (John 10:9,27-28, Hebrews 9:12). Everlasting rest from the everlasting Word of God, everlastingly paid for: worship on that day was the essence of the acknowledgment of Christ's victory, its cost to Him and its preciousness to us. To revert to times before it, THIS would be a profound blindness.
Thus there was ' Peace to you' to the assembled brethren on the Sunday, as a theme together with that earlier promise: "my peace I give to you: not as the world gives ... you have heard how I said to you, I go away, and come again to you". Envisaged in terms of His coming victory (John 16:20-33, 14:27-28), this now flooded their meeting, now that their joy was inspired with His postresurrection visit John 16:22 forecast this on the good basis of HIS RETURN TO THEM, resurrected, mission accomplished, eternal rest secure.
Arisen, He appeared. NOW, HE was there; HE was restored as He said He would be. When giving His peace earlier, He yet proclaimed the coming crisis before their rejoicing. Now on Sunday, work done, crisis turned to rest. The disciples before this resurrection had wrestled; now they rested. They worshipped, He blessed, refreshed, communed, showed, strengthened and confirmed them, intimately and personally. THAT is rest! Before the resurrection, He had said:
¨ "Therefore now you have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you" (John 16:22).
The reality of rest was consummated for this earth, for His disciples. Rest was required, HIS rest was specialised, specific, sent and secured. It was not as if no more rest day was needed. Not at all.
He did not make the disciples now into a novelty in their persons; no, for they, recreated in the image of Him who first made them, and renewed in that which God first gave to man, could rest in His presence now. THIS created image, man, is required to rest on the day of rest as God shall see fit. On the model provided, the rest was first that of the creation, in recognition of His wonderful works, and the gift of BEING-at-all. NOW, it was on the new model provided, REDEMPTION REST in the salvation paid for: redemption rest in restoration of soul and guarantee of life, brought back to its first image. As created it was commanded rest; as re-created, its new rest, not obliterated but transformed, like the one for whom it was provided, centred on HIS WORK, HIS DAY and HIS SPECTACULAR yet beautiful glory, humility with accuracy, as He rose on the third day to create it for ever.
THIS first day of the week was therefore of necessity the DAY of rest, commemorating rest.
What ? Was God not at work in raising Christ towards the dawning of the day on that first day of the week, when the women came with spices ? Will it be said that THIS was not the greatest work of God, to deliver up and raise up His own Son for the sins and for the justification of life of the whole race - the life of those who come to Him (i.e. the whole family of believers cf. 1 Peter 1:21, 2:9) ? God "raised Him up from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God."
This is the seventh work of God; the work of redemption is here finished and its proclamation assured in power (Romans 1:4): "declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."
THIS time HE,
the LORD, appeared personally to superintend the worship and provide the rest,
face to face; and what God has bound together, let not man put asunder. HE was
marred, WE who are HIS are married, like the bride of Christ, the church, and
HE has provided this rest on the day of His choice. Otherwise it could not be;
the base would be gone, the mere creation commemoration would continue, and
the eternal redemption slighted, people would be back before the unsearchable
riches of Christ were poured out to bring rest.
Salvation, not Junking: |
Deliverance, not Desecration: Restoration not Revocation:
Adjustment, not Abolition
THIS work of God was necessary;
NOT because the first work was inadequate,
but purely because the greatest work, man,
having the marvellous gift of liberty,
misused it, crashed his 'car', inherited death
and needed deliverance.
In love and to meet need, God worked once more, and 'It is finished', Christ proclaimed from the Cross; and the day of worship as of rest commemorates this greatest work of God, on the day when THIS is finished: Sunday. We do not slight the greatest work of God, by which we stand. (See also Appendix - News.)
HENCE, to enshrine God's works in 6 days ONLY... NOW that the greatest work has come (Hebrews 5:7), is to omit the labour of life by His Son. CHRISTians naturally honour the work by which they are constituted, claimed and covered, focussing Him who did it on the day it was done. WHEN was He raised for our justification, as Romans 4:25 phrases it? It was on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. Its anniversaries abound, every Sunday.
To revert to Saturday in this context, and for this reason, would of course be blasphemy and folly. It would indeed degrade, demean, or even ignore SALVATION, that gracious work of God without, which a man does not even know God (cf. John 17:3, Ephesians 4:1719,2:8).
So to act would be a contradiction of what one is, as a Christian, and of what God did!
If we then are not to glory "EXCEPT in the Cross of Christ", by which the world is crucified to us, and we to the world, that effectual work of the Cross towering into the clouds of wonder in the resurrection which is its obverse (Galatians 6:14 so directs us), what would this be ?
It would be to imply a workless Saviour in the New Covenant in His blood! Will Christ be pushed back into the womb, and the work of birth, indeed the coming from heaven be countermanded ? Or will the work of God in the salvation which Christ secured be the new labour which the new day commemorates in the old way!
What would it be, if this transition, this development were refused, in terms of Galatians 6:14, for example ? It would be this: a very precise contradiction. As to that, leave it to the devil.
We do therefore, for all these reasons, have our IMAGEOFGOD DAY OF REST as divinely prescribed NOW, through Christ who declared Himself the LORD of the Sabbath*3A, on the day that brought REST. Rest for whom? Rest both for God (as Redeemer) and for man (where redeemed) ... and that ? It is now necessarily, historically and thematically: The DAY OF THE RESURRECTION. It is called Sunday.
In full accord with this, Christ appeared to the waiting disciples again (John 20:2431) ... when ? On the NEXT first day of the week, by Jewish counting, the 8th day from the former, the resurrection day.
What then did Christ do ? He appeared on that day in such a way that there was worship (John 20:28). Indeed, Thomas worshipped Him there as "THE GOD OF ME, AND THE LORD OF ME"! (to translate literally, giving the designation more obviously). Thomas expressed his belief to Christ who then made this a criterion of ALL faith, so declaring by divine fiat, this fact of salvation. Many shall not see and yet believe, said Christ; specifying the content in view at this point, for believing. In this indispensable minimum, to the expectant soul, came rest. To Thomas also, then, He appeared on the first day of the week, as He did to the others, declaring explicitly and formally a great fact, reflecting a chief criterion of the Christian faith.
Thomas missed *4 the congregation on the FIRST great rest day, on the FIRST day of the week (Sunday), and he gained deliverance on the second great rest day: the second FIRST day of the week (i.e. the following Sunday).
THE FIRST OF THE FEW:
the 6 made into 7
and the 1st Day now the Rest for all who Come to THIS Rest: Christ the Lord
Thus it was on the first day of the week that
this new labour of God was completed:
this fundamental labour,
this soulfreeing labour,
this labour that our hope and faith might be in God -
this labour that produced rest for the disciples and Thomas.
It was then that Christ arose to be worshipped.
THIS is the day of rest for God and man.
To think less is
to elevate man
to demean God,
to derogate Christ as if not having equal honour with the Father (John 5:1923).
It would malign His crucial and epochal work
physically and theologically, both personally and spiritually,
in the resurrection;
degrade Him who said, Before Abraham was, I am;
without whom no created thing did appear, and who, NOT creating Himself before
He was there to do it, nor needing to do so when there already! is eternal.
He is Creator with the Father of all things.
This is the work of God on the body He assumed, His great and
'strange work' of which Isaiah spoke, in
terms of His power, when also declaring the coming of the Messiah as the great
foundation stone (Isaiah 28:21, 28:16 cf. Isaiah 26:19, Psalm 16). This now is
in the forefront of commemoration of the works of God (cf. Ephesians 1:1920).
found; this we find;
this the early disciples showed in word and deed.
Not only did Christ commence divine dealings with His own essential, small band of apostles, on the reality of the bodily resurrection on a Sunday that GAVE rest, but He completed this decisive impact on the SUNDAY that AGAIN gave rest, the worship day of commemoration and action. This was the first opportunity for verification following that FIRST Sunday, Lord's day, when Thomas challenged the physical fact, after missing the meeting in which he could readily have done so at the first. THAT of course is a standing rebuke to the concept of missing church when downcast, which can be an apt recipe for having MORE grounds for sorrow.
Thomas stood ready to verify, and Christ came to suffer it, on that second Sunday which was the FIRST IDENTICAL week day to show what Thomas stood ready to verify. It was as it were the next LAB. day for the Class!
Not only were there grounds for it to happen on that day; happen it did. Indeed, not merely this, but others stood ready so to rejoice in this discovery and declaration, duly and fitly assembled, and to follow in THAT day, the worship of Him who declared to Thomas, YOU have seen and believed; BLESSED are they who have not seen but yet believe! Declaration Day, a duet of Sundays*5.
Hence THIS was the day which was that of the restproducing resurrection when HE who was raised came with peace; the day of worship of Him thus available for it, in the bodily format in which He came, magnificently renewed. It is the day of demonstration to the doubter. It was moreover the day of declaration of the PRINCIPLE of faith which the doubter evoked from the Master, for ALL who would so believe as Thomas now did: and on this day there was healing ... of the mind of the troubled apostle, Thomas. On this day, Christ by divine power invested the congregation, both blessing and delivering peace, as also teaching principle and performing practice, with His New Covenant presence.
Thus too in 1 Corinthians 16:2, we find that Paul says this: "on the first day of EVERY week, let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come."
Again, in Acts 20:7: "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them."
Now Paul talked ... to such extent and effect that a certain young man fell asleep AND off a window sill!
Here is the notation of what happened in system, as to collection, and in an extensive prepared worship service. It is stated in a natural, normal way, not as an exception, any more than were the first great meetings with Christ. It is indicated in a systematic way, just as also was there system there, at the first. Indeed at the first, it happened in a NECESSARY way, excluding worship before and requiring it THEN. Then too it was seen in an EXPERIMENTAL way ... and worship there was REQUISITE as Christ came to them, for them to honour the Lord.
Special days? These one may construe for personal thanksgiving
before the Lord, on an individual basis. THIS DAY is
THE LORD'S DAY,
which as Lord of the Sabbath, He made His own, and makes OUR DAY OF REST. Thus
He disposed it, so it is, so it must be, so it has been. It is not for us to
dispossess Him, whom the Jews first dispossessed by Roman means, of His body.
Enough is enough! Let us honour Him here and in this, as in all things.
THIS is our day of rest -
as creatures of Christ,
new creations justified by His resurrection, as Paul has it,
able to rest (in terms of day, symbolic signal of rest) ... not at all till then. Indeed, what to us is a day symbol, was a day celestial: it happened then!*6
THIS is the day THE LORD has made, signalising His works works now extended that we might be amended. Let us rejoice and be glad in it, showing in this way the creation of this rest in Christ, through Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, whose mighty work is commemorated in a New Covenant in a new day, priceless in what it exhibits to us, immeasurable in the gift it consummated in history, and saw secured in the heart.
*1 Isaiah 58:13-14
Let us look a little more at that wonderful promise in Isaiah 58:13-14.
In the very midst of the evangelical
symphony of Christ and Him crucified which has been arresting the mind of the
reader, with a background in the Psalms, with Isaiah
4,7,9,11,32,42,49,50,52-55 in mind, and 60 - 61, 65 to come, we find this
deeply probing and inveterate melody on rest to the spirit, rest that is
spiritual in dimension and in depth, but which is practical and actual in
attendance and expression.
It is like music - the inspiration, the
vision is very real; but it is also ... to be played!
It is not that I am always so musical that I do not need actually to hear or to play music; not at all. It is rather that being musical, and ready both for vision and inspiration from it, I THEREFORE listen to it. Not in some everything mode, but in a specific time, occasion and point where I may give myself without preoccupation to the meditation of its display.
How much less are we to void the concept that since GOD SAID that since He created us in six days, then rested, He wants us, in His image, to rest once in seven. The fraction commemorates the work-rest "beat", just as the resurrection commemorates and acknowledges the latest and greatest work that GIVES our rest a hook, a place of grace and recognition.
As to that recognition we gain "instruction in righteousness" as Paul phrases it, from God's word in such places as Romans 4:25, 1:4, I Corinthians 16:2, Acts 20:7: and this? it is according to the premiss of God in II Timothy 3:16.
Shall Christ's resurrection be voided of its eminence as a work of God in man's RE-creation (II Corinthians 5:17)! One of the "old things that have passed away" is the relevance of the day as token of the first creation for rest, and one part of the "all things are become new" situation is the need for the new day recognising
v the fundamental necessity of the Christian faith, on the one hand, and
v that Christ is God Himself in human form, on the other,
His works attesting themselves as HE DID THEM.
He rose, there was the work; we are re-created, there is its application; He appeared for worship and to give rest, there is the act. As He enacted, so it is wrought for us, and so we commemorate it according to reality, the rest given, this its grounds displayed, and according to His action, which chose the first day of the week in fact and in practice to appear. It is SUBSTANTIAL rest because then HE GAVE IT, and it is a DAY because He used it a) to rise and b) to appear to be worshipped.
not uncreated; His word is not unbound. We MUST rest. Similarly,
¨ HIS work of the New Testament IS NOT derecognised: we rest at the END - as it NOW is - of His works. We glory in the greatness of the love that took so astounding a step, and worship as we live, live as we are delivered, now praising Him in communal worship just as did the disciples, on that day that He came to their midst in profound and divine example to institute the worship of the New Covenant, focussed on Himself who so appeared, and who then appeared.
To do other than accept this divine provision in word and deed is either to reject that Christ is Lord-of-the- Sabbath (literally rest), OR his CHOICE OF DAY, both for His work and for its display, or that it is a NEW work that finishes the divine provision for the stature of man, or the testimony of His word, or some combination. In this way would be avoided the fact that His rest is transferred TO the commemoration of what chiefly SECURED it, to that without which there would be neither form nor substance, neither vision nor experience of rest: in fact, to the day of His resurrection.
WHO did it?
did, by so
acting to complete His works for man's restored stature to a new creation, in
calling it so through His apostle Paul (I Cor. 2:9-13, II Cor. 5:17), and in
meeting with them in this condition on that day, the day of His own
demonstrated personal choice. It was indeed on this day that He again
appeared, again by divine choice, being present as the OBJECT OF WORSHIP and
made clear the PRINCIPLE of faith involved for all time and for all people
THAT is indeed the "heritage of Jacob", since the Abrahamic covenant (Isaiah 58:14), was confirmed to Jacob. Is it not written that:
"it was not written for his sake alone,
that it was imputed to him,
but for us also,
to whom it shall be imputed,
if we believe on
Him who raised up Jesus our Lord, from the dead;
who was delivered for our offences,
and was raised again for our justification" !
Abraham was the forerunner. Thus the covenant with him, explicitly the forerunner of what is now satisfied in the death and resurrection of Christ, the vital reality overarching in its fulfilment, both of the covenants.
CHRIST to bless all nations is in view; and in Him, there is a rest which rests on what He has done, which is exhibited on the NEXT day after the Saturday of old, just as it is the NEXT work following creation which it attests. For without the crucifixion there is no NEED for a resurrection; and without the resurrection, there is no POINT in the crucifixion, which is not merely to show suffering, but effectual suffering; not merely to show the experience of apartness which sin brings, but to show the restoration of togetherness, which Christ's victory over death secures.
Now this wonderfully challenging promise, this blessing searches the heart. The specifications in Isaiah 58:13-14 try the conscience and require a love of the Lord for them to be successfully implemented; and indeed, without a love for the Lord, heaven is hell and hell is hell indeed!
Let us then look hard at this Isaiah 58:13-14:
"If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath,
From doing your pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight,
The holy day of the Lord honourable,
And shall honour Him, not doing your own ways,
Nor dinging your own pleasure,
Nor speaking your own words.
Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord,
And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth,
And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father.
The mouth of the Lord has spoken."
THEN, if you do this, if your whole spirit is so charged and your whole being is so surrendered to the Lord in terms of a non-competitive day for Him, where the sweat of your brow is no more the consideration, but the drawing very close to the One who redeemed you from such a life as ALL, into the life that is eternal, where there will be no more curse, and labour in its precincts: IF, I say, you do this, and so use the day with the rest that rejoices in the reality of the risen Lord as source of all rest, and does not defile His latest work by despising it, resting on some other day, as if the New Testament had never happened, or as if He had NOT said He was Lord of the Sabbath, or as if Moses was greater than Christ (Hebrews 8:7-13, 4:, 3:3-6), or as if Moses had not prophesied the One who word MUST be obeyed (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) : then what ?
Then says the word of the prophet, the word of God, then you shall DELIGHT yourself in the Lord. HE IS delightful. So act and you will find it so.
Thus the heart which obeys this summons, this spiritual beneficence, for it is a great deliverance to have appointed by supreme authority, such rest in spirit as Calvary and the resurrection bring, and such rest for the whole psyche and body as Sunday brings: it is one which DELIGHTS in God. It is not a mere formalism, nor is it a functional co-operation simply to make the best of things, and especially it is not a gain situation, where you compute that working with and for God is far safer and more profitable than not: for you may well be crucified!
It is a felicitous response to His wonder and beauty of holiness, power and splendour, it is this which the Sunday rest enables to develop while the Lord draws near (cf. John 14:21-23); and just as it has been said, the one who is filled with the Spirit is not the person who believes in it, or the one who wants it but the one who obeys the Lord, so it is; for so it is written (Acts 5:32 indicates such a thing).
Moreover as you obey God, working FOR Him and this without a nether eye to your own desires, though needs are met and faith is led as by a Friend, so you grow, and as you grow so does His hand reach more of you, for spiritually there is more, and so a friendship with God grows as you become more attuned, developed, strengthened, sufficed and energetically loving towards Him. This is impossible if you do not love Him with all your heart, or seek with all of it to do so; and if you do, it is a delight all over again.
What now does Psalm 37 say? Delight yourself also in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart! Here is the anti-psychiatric treatment. This is not to dull the anguish but to remove its cause!
This is more ambitious by far: here we do not LIMIT the DAMAGE, but DAMAGE THE LIMITS which the flesh would wrongly put on the spirit of man, and draw near to the holy joy of the presence of Him who made us.
Look now well at this passage in Isaiah 58, and examine its contents piece by piece, for though it is broken up into elements, it is like a garment, all one in the end, a felicitous use of the day of rest for that dearth of interruption, except in godly service and worship and praise, that concentration on what is not corrupted and on what is potent in grace, that abundance of blessing which the Lord in His wisdom may dower and increase.
We retain our IMAGE as in our creation (cf. Colossians 3:10, as Paul shows, and nature declares). It is NOT as if because we (Christians) are REDEEMED, we cease to have been CREATED! As SURELY as we were created the way we were, SO SURELY we are to REST on Sunday. THAT is what the word of God declares (Exodus 20:11). While we are in THIS WORLD, THAT IS how we are commanded to behave.
*3 THE REST SELECTION, BOTH SOVEREIGN AND SUBSTANTIAL
For some, a further and more intimate look at Colossians 2 re rest, may seem helpful. It is not really necessary, but it may be expedient, and for those this endnote is further supplied.
One might first refer to that great OLD TESTAMENT passage of Isaiah 26:3:
YOU WILL KEEP HIM IN PERFECT PEACE WHOSE MIND IS STAYED ON YOU: BECAUSE HE TRUSTS IN YOU!
Forsaking the clear teaching of the word of God on spiritual rest and the day of rest yields THE SUNDAY TRAGEDY: DEFIANCE OF THE DIVINE IN TERMS OF LIBERATION FROM THE WORD OF GOD, AND CONFUSION OF THE REST ALWAYS PRESCRIBED, with THE CREATION SPECIFICS FOR THIS DAY!
COLOSSIANS 2:16 advises you not to let people judge you concerning sabbaths. I do not! Some say, You may not swim, or walk or whatever it may be. But to me, the issue is clear: IS IT or IS IT NOT in conformity with the SPIRIT of the day of REST that which 'sabbath' means) to do this ? of REST IN THE LORD, of HONOURING THE LORD, DEEMING HIS SPECIAL DAY A DELIGHT, or is it not ? THAT is how each issue for the Sunday is to be considered: not by YOU but by me, and as to that, by ME IN THE WORD OF THE LORD, for the whole establishment, if you like, of formalities and ceremonies and particularities in this sphere is PAST. So it is with all of us.
ALL THAT was a 'shadow'; but the REST ITSELF was no shadow. Indeed, if you look at what Paul is saying, here, instead of considering some substitute in philosophy which gazes at Paul but then does what it pleases: PAUL says, of these sabbaths: - 'which are a shadow of things TO COME, but the substance is of Christ'. Now the eternal rest is indeed focussed by the variety of sabbaths, of rests and releases, including the jubilee year of deliverance and so on; but the specific ONE DAY IN SEVEN DAY OF REST has two special features, yes three.
1) It REFERS SPECIFICALLY to things PAST! Thus in Exodus 20, God tells Moses that man must rest because of... WHAT GOD HIMSELF HAS DONE IN THE PAST! even then! Thus any attempt to sacrifice the day of rest on the altar of the future, by those misreading or even misquoting Paul, is out of the question. Rest one day in seven as a creature of our God is not an option.
2) This one day in seven day of rest is instituted on a STATED GROUND. It is not only that it relates TO WHAT GOD HIMSELF DID IN THE PAST, rather than to the future category which Paul notes in referring to the varied sabbaths the Jews had, as something in common; it is ALSO referring to a GROUND for keeping it at all... and THAT GROUND is in the PAST.
3) Yet this is not all. Not merely is it a thing in the past, not in the future, which seals the irrevocable character of l day of rest in 7 for man on earth; nor merely is it a question of a STATED GROUND for keeping it at all, drawn from the past from what was EVEN THEN a thing past in the actions of God. There is this also. The ground for this day of rest is a thing operative in man BECAUSE of its past character. It is not only past in fact, but past in principle. It is not only something given by God because of what HE did in the past; it is moreover given by God BECAUSE THE THING HE DID WAS IN THE PAST.
It is ALL past, emphatically past; but the Colossians reference is all and emphatically future. Nor is this all, for there is a substance pattern relationship of GODman, of GOD the MAKER and man the made; of man having to honour this day BECAUSE GOD HIS MAKER, IN WHOSE IMAGE MAN IS MADE, did so ... giving man a ground for such rest. Moreover, this is what GOD STATES, in reviewing the matter. He declares this ground for doing likewise.
Now if you could ABOLISH the 10 commandments
(Christ, you recall STATED He did not come to destroy but to fulfil the law, and Paul that he does not destroy but rather establishes the law Matthew 5 and Romans 3 respectively):
on the ground that God
is not really moral but merely plays around with moral questions for interest,
is not in fact holy but pragmatic:
so blaspheming indelibly;
and if you could at your say so,
REMOVE THE SUBSTANCE -
the actual rest ordered for one day in seven;
and if you could pretend you were removing only the shadow;
and if you could also make the things to come, which Paul mentions,
by some magic come to include things past, thereby contradicting the word of God and subtracting from it, both - which God deplores, rather understandably:
then you would still have to remake man in some other image (so that God's prototype action, statedly resting straight after HIS series of 6 actions),
and remake God's mind in some other way, which would mean He would not then STATE that HE wanted this rest in MAN on ONE DAY IN SEVEN BECAUSE that was how He made man.
All in all, you would have a spiritual bloodbath; and that of course is what they really did at the crucifixion. It is always inclined to be a spiritual (sometimes also a biological) bloodbath when you manipulate the word of God. (See the contrary in II Cor.4:2.)
To all this, I have only one word of ADVICE: DON'T TRY IT! Rather, REST on the one day in seven, and now on that day which the Church used to commemorate the greatest of all the works God has done for man and in creation. That day ? It is the day of THE RESURRECTION FOLLOWING THE CRUCIFIXION FOR SIN not His own on the part of Christ. If this does not appeal, why talk about Christians things at all! If it does appeal, then do it! REST from your work, on THIS DAY.
Even in the days of King David, the SPIRITUAL and CONTINUAL rest which is a category of the faith relationship to God, was ardently offered yes, right in the midst of the days of the law, and hundreds of years before Christ even came, let alone paid for sin (as Psalm 95 makes exceedingly clear). It always was the manner of life or faith in the Lord and its FAILURE ALWAYS WAS A FAULT BEFORE GOD! It is NOT that it was not available. God is always available and is always in His friendship, the scrutineer and supplier of rest. Yes, then as now. Hebrews 4 deals with this perennial matter of resting in quietness and confidence in the law, with a disciplined spirit on the basis of His covenant.
NOW however as THEN, the honouring of a particular day for the Lord,
in terms of
1) what He did, and
2) what He said,
remains as always apart from the ceremonial 'shadows' fulfilled in Christ.
EXCURSION INTO LORD OF THE SABBATH
In Matthew 12:6 we read of Jesus' Declaration that He was Lord of the Sabbath.Indeed we read much more.
DECLARATION OF DEPENDENCE
It is rather like a declaration of dependence, the dependence of the day upon Himself. After all, as we read in Colossians 1, He MADE us, so He is the one to interpret as in other things, the essence. He does not abrogate, but He does fulfil; and while there is nothing to fulfil in removing the day of rest reflecting our creation, which remains a fact and hence requires its reflection as demanded in Exodus 20, there is everything to INTERPRET when He comes to save the otherwise LOST CREATION, hence providing the ONLY WAY for its continuation in any blessedness at all, in the long run. This mirrors and SURPASSES the creation. Let us study the implications and applications a little.
Now let us return to the incident which evoked Christ's great Declaration, about as amazing as if a Senator in the U.S. had declared,' I AM the declaration of Independence'. However the advent of the Messiah had long been both prophesied and expected, and hence it was!
If you read Matthew 12:1-8, you see the picture, the narrative. There are the disciples plucking the odd heads of corn as they pass through the rural fields. As a matter of fact it is EXPLICITLY quite legal (Deuteronomy 23:25), but the carping critics, the relentlessly religious partisans who are the sort of anti-matter parallel to the people of God, were thirsty for spiritual blood. They surged into the 'spiritual' attack. DISCIPLES doing this! How now teacher!
Not merely did Jesus the Christ defend this casual plucking of corn ears by His disicples as provided in the law - on the SABBATH! He went further while on the topic.
He showed the meaning of that day of rest, the Sabbath, in the light of its being a divine command in a total temple worship situation. Thus He pointed out, priests labour on the Sabbath; and David and his men of old, actually ate the SHOWBREAD, that sacred symbol in edible format in the Temple, showbread limited to priests for consumption! David and his men, THEY were no priests.
Would the critics of Christ then also condemn David for this "obvious breach of the law", as they would presumably be called, in their uncomprehending strait-jackets be likely to call it ? No, they would be too afraid of such an initiative, so Christ shamed them.
The showbread, the answer would be, SYMBOLICALLY HELD ISRAEL ALOFT, twelve loaves representing twelve tribes in the presence in the Temple, a visible indication of the visible flesh of man, held before the invisible God, reflecting the care of His light upon them, His eye on them, their being real before Him.
Thus this was a result of David's calamity, as king to be, before his appointment but after his anointing in the Lord's name by the prophet Samuel, the young man fleeing from a possessed and murderous King Saul, filled with envy. David himself a type of Christ to be crucified, COULD eat the showbread, yes and those with him. Why ? He could do it WHEN it was, as was the case in history, offered to him BY the priest. In effect, this would properly mean that the authorised priest had INTERPRETED the underlying MEANING of the showbread and APPLIED it. If it showed the light of God on the needs of man, then HERE WAS a need of man, and it would be met. It was no ordinary need. The man was divinely appointed, as was the bread, on behalf of Israel; and the practical reality of what the Temple symbolised was given dynamic expression.
Thus the symbolic meaning of this showbread was now given a practical excursion by the priest in charge. It was authorised there and then, at the moment of need, for the chosen one of Israel, in a disrupted kingdom: signalising and signifying divine meeting of need, divine reliability and faithfulness, it now leapt from its table to the tongue, performing what it showed. It was like going back from the Lord's Supper to the crucifixion itself. It went from symbol to substance, from divine speech in symbols to divine help THROUGH them! What the bread showed, it could now be used to do; sustain through the grace of the Lord. What the cross DID, the Lord's supper represents, and in it, the Lord may help those who come to Him, with the compassions His cross showed in practical form, now in spiritual illumination.
In other words, symbols of God or His work or attitude, are expressions of something real , and that real God will fulfil in practical form what they signify in spirit.
THIS was one such case. Christ as the Lamb of God would not merley interpret, but fulfil the entire sacrifical system.
THE LORD INTERPRETS
THUS as Lord of the Sabbath, the leader anointed not just of Israel but of the whole world (Psalm 72, Isaiah 11, 49), He could interpret rest alike, this also, in the spirit of its gift, and not for money or reward, meet a not-planted, but casual or unplanned for case of emergency, the dire need of a suffering case that suddenly could come before Him, as it then did come (Matthew 12:9ff.). This it did immediately after His classic and vastly significant divine Declaration on the Sabbath to which we at first referred (Matthew 12:8). He thus proceeded TO HEAL such a case ALSO on the Sabbath.
Thus NOT ONLY did He interpret the Sabbath in the corn-eating setting, stating the general principle that He was LORD of the Sabbath (as of all else, John 5:19ff., 8:58), but in the light of the caring purpose of the Lord who spoke from heaven and gave such a day, so now He, on earth, did not retract its rest significance but rather confirmed it in extending the application even to this sick sufferer, whom He happened to meet on the way. It was not with toil for reward that He acted, but with grace at need, which the Sabbath itself was not least designed to do ("the Sabbath was made for man"). Thus He could and did bring relief. He, the author of the Sabbath, the Creator with His Father, of man, could use the rest of the day to bring rest.
THE PLENARY DIVINE CLAIM
This claim of being LORD of a day which GOD appointed, was staggering, but so was the prophesied status of the Messiah (Zechariah 12:10, 3:9, Micah 5:1-3, Palm 2, 102, 102 etc.). There, as Hebrews 1 points out, He is even CALLED GOD, when as all should know, it was most emphatic that God would never countenance giving HIS glory to another (Isaiah 42:8). Much of the Old Testament rests on that, just as much of the New Testament reflects on the parallel fact that here indeed IS GOD, THIS GOD, so that Thomas calls Him, "My Lord and my God!: seeing Him swallow death of body, and ruin, and live, tangible, actual, bringing forth a vital conclusive proof of His authenticity, in being raised up, declared to be the Son of God with power by the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:38-39, John 20:27ff., Romans 1:4).
God did not send a substitute, a secretary or even secretariat to 'play God', since you cannot play the infinite by finite means, however great your statements. God sent the word which was God in the beginning, which as Paul declares in Philippians 2, had no trouble at all in being equal with God, but chose a humble form to do a divine work, in human mode. THAT, it is the Christ. The sacrificial Saviour and substitute for repentant sinners through faith brought heaven to earth, offering to earth a haven in Himself, fit even for heaven.
Thus these two features fitted together like hand in glove: WHO He was and WHAT He did, as His own words reflected specifically (John 14:11, cf. verses 8-9).
Yes and indeed, He went further. In Matthew 12:6, He made a great parallel Classic Declaration: "Yet I tell you that in this place there is One greater than the temple." That paralleled in turn His declaration at Nazareth indicating He Himself indeed to be the Messiah (Luke 4:18-30, cf. John 5:18). He Himself was greater than the Temple, as the reality is greater than the symbol for it.
ALL THINGS TOGETHER IN CHRIST
Here we see quite categorically and with enormous emphasis this fact: Christ took over BOTH Temple symbols and rest symbols, to use both to adapt to their pinnacle - not to deny their specific purpose, but to COMPLETE their meaning. He would not act symbolically as if man had never been created, were some new invention (He redeemed, did not make a different, not-in-God's-image sort of thing out of man), and so remove the demanded day of rest. Far otherwise was the case.
He would, however, act to set it in perspective by taking over the command, as it were, of the sabbath symbolising fleet, and directing it as the new consummation. That ? It was HIS own coming and crucifixion and resurrection which would cause the fleet to take up a new position that covered the vital new concern, without denying the continuing old one. It was this which would make right its redisposition, so commemorating on the first day of the week, the greatest act of God in the rest which not only resulted from this resurrection, but which was as before necessary both for testimony and for the operation of the bodily, spiritual and mental format He had given to man while on earth, that of its first creation. To the way He led this fulfilment, the only one available, we shall look as we proceed.
It is enough for now to realise that what He would do was this: commemorate the greater rest from the greater work of God. Yes here symbolised was something far greater than creation, for more personal and more costly (John 3:15-16), the raising the sin-bearing victim, His own eternal Son, from the dead, thus making it essential that the rest day, unrescindable and unfulfillable as it reflected historical making of man and the divine mode it reflected, would be re-applied. No longer was it to be Saturday, day reflecting creation, but the Sunday, the day SHOWING the rest which all felt as He came to them in their fear and showed that not only was man not to be feared, but God trusted even through death. Into that harbour He led the divine symbolic fleet.
Lord of the Sabbath and Lord indeed, being highly exalted having humbled Himself to the death, even that of the Cross, He made the New Covenant worship for all time rest and rely on His personal appearance in bodily format, having "swallowed up death in victory" (cf. Isaiah 25:8) , so that He COULD be worshipped in His triumph, with knowledge, faith and understanding. When ? On arrival! When was that ? The former rest day was buried with Him as His body lay in the grave on the now restless Saturday of trial of the power of God and of His word. The new rest day arrived simultaneously with His resurrection, breaking the bonds of anxiety, woe and judgment all in one, and so granting peace.
It was on the first day of the week.
So He appeared again and again on the first Sunday, the second, and even used Pentecost in a way unthinkable for any other day, and through the apostle made appointment for offerings on that day ( I Corinthians 16:2). He was not suggesting that they invent some new formal day for everyone (contrary to the doctrine in I Corinthians 13:5, concerning new days, things not scripturally asserted). THE day which OF COURSE was dedicated to the service of the sin-bearing Saviour who granted rest its culmination, not some peculiar or highly individually desired day, this was to be made that of collection. What better ? Here is the day where grace prevailed, sacrifice became an obvious work of sovereignty and the work of God, completed, was verified for rest, rest and return to rest on the part of His people.
To 'turn back the clock' in this sphere is a symbolic denial of the grandeur of the resurrection, a countermanding of Galatians 6:14; just as a jettisoning of the day altogether is a symbolic minimisation of the maximum, as if our creation rest were to ignore the New Covenant realities, not to utilise them. It would of course also contradict the word of God which required one in seven as the rest ratio for a creation reason, as well as add to the word of God with new philosophy and evacuate the rest day (cf. Isaiah 58:13ff.) of all the spiritual depth and blessedness, to which for the loving heart it sweetly, and statedly leads. On these things, see the next Chapter, Appendix for more.
ADDING REDEMPTION, NOT SUBTRACTING HISTORY
Let us summarise some of these realities. Thus the transfer of the rest day commanded, and indeed now commandeered by deity in the flesh after His own last and greatest work for the salvation of man, who had marred his creation by sin: it neither abrogated that day, for creation could not be 'fulfilled', nor eliminated it, since 'creation' was something that happened, and God does not countermand God, when He demands and gives reasons which remain (cf. Matthew 5:17ff.). He fulfils His word; He does not discountenance it. He meets the needs of His people. He does not decry them. Rest remained a weekly provision. Christ's resurrection did not invalidate reality in the creation. It DID however express the redemption available, and the consummation which was the new acme of the creation, as also the new necessity because of sin.
Not to move thus is near to despising both the action and the mercy of God, to despise Christ in symbol and to abrogate His claim to be Lord of the Sabbath: a claim both proper and paid for by the eternal Word of God (there is only one God: no other is available for fastidious pseudo-grammarians,who ignorant of grammar , want to subdue Christ with artificial devices - Isaiah 45:20-25, where as el and elohim, God makes clear the celestial realities: ONE cf. SMR pp. 532ff.). The price He paid was high; but it was the love of God that paid and the truth of God that displayed triumph for rest on this great and ever memorable day, that of the bodily resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He was declared to the the Son of God with power (Romans 1:4).
It is in one way parallel to His claim to forgive sins (Mark 2) which was challenged. Very well: that you may KNOW that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, He declared, Rise up and walk! So the man did it. Which, asked Christ is easier, to say forgiven, or to command, Rise up to the paralytic! There was the attestation. So here. Which was easier to declare that He would be put to death as the Messiah and then on the third day, precisely, be raised from the dead; or to do it! Doing it, He laid claim to the day as the commemoration, instituting the worship in practical terms AS the pastor and priest extraordinary, while the people could now worship, as Thomas belatedly was to do, on the day appointed because anointed.
Christ as Lord is no mere additive; He is Jehovah in flesh (Isaiah 45:22-23, Philippians 2 - where the EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS of God to have every knee bow to HIM, the ONE, without any other, is seen in the New Testament to be the EXCLUSIVE RIGHT OF CHRIST, as ONE, to have the same, so that through the word to the Father, and through the Father to the word, ONE God in three Persons, the Holy Spirit applying these things, is the scope for worship (cf. Matthew 11:27):
"All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him" - cf. John 16:15 - "All things that the Father has are mine!"
CONTEMPORARY TIME - APPLICATION TIME FOR LIVING
HE is to be obeyed, followed in word and deed, as example, because substitute, King. His Gospel realised, His claims by faith are validated in our walk and in our hearts, including the full recognition of the reality of Him who not only is Lord of trhe Sabbath, but greater than the Temple itself, so that its glory fades before His (Hebrews 8), becoming thereby obsolete. In His magnificent greatness He never contradicts Himself, but fulfils how He will and brings blessing to the obedient, and indeed, "God gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him" (Acts 5:32), reminds us of the beauty of holiness in which we rest in Him, our Commander, unwilling ever to see any derogation of His grandeur, who humbled Himself and is to be exalted above every name which is named, both in this world and in that which is to come (Philippians 2:9-11, Ephesians 1:10, 2:17-22, Colossians 1:18).
As to 'missing
church', Thomas (John 20) is a standing example of the grief and needless
turmoil which can result; even though the Lord delivered him.
*5 One Work, One Day : NEW DAY
It WAS a work to Him precisely because it IS not a work for us! (Hebrews 9:12) ..."having obtained eternal redemption for us".
With that perfect divine planning, the event was commemorated now with more beauty than ever. When was symbol more expressive of its substance, of what it stood for!
Although it had taken some 3 1/2 years, preceded by a definitive and perfect divine incarnation, for this sinless work of perfect righteousness to be consummated
v on the Cross and
v on its aftermath of power, the bodily resurrection of the voluntary victory, Jesus Christ, only Saviour of the world:
yet it came to expression in one - on one day.
On that day, issuing just a single day after the Saturday commemorating creation and the covenant with the Creator: on Sunday, the "first day of the week" as early writers so often call it, the Lord appeared intact, alive, able to eat, to converse, and with transcendent powers.
Not at first glorified in return to His Father (John 20:17), He yet was visible witness to the glory of His Father on the earth, expressing Himself as central focus of the Father's love, power and grace - in the revelation of His face through flesh (John 14:10, II Cor. 4:6, John 6:40, Hebrews 1:1-3, I Timothy 3:16).
The work of eternal redemption without which creation through sin becomes a tributary to hell, was complete (Hebrews 9:12), and Christ there to attest it, was once worshippped - a week later by Thomas, who attended the Divine Service on that day. Free was the grace, gracious His word, as He personally announced HIMSELF, on that day, and the very principle His work expressed, and required for faith (John 20:29).
The calendar of great events, of the works of God, turned one more page at the expression of this greatest work of all (Galatians 6:14 - the issue of it all encompasses the way to it), and woe to those who seek to turn it back, as if God's WORK of salvation had not entirely accomplished the self-attesting authenticity which required a new day for its witness. From this work, man created, is created anew (II Cor. 5:17, Ephesians 4:24).
Which day? The day when He instituted the worship, at the completion of the demonstration of His task, in Person, in body, was inalienable from the work, like remembrance day on November 11trh, for the completion of World War I - this WAS the day of its occurrence, and this the day of its witness... with glorious efficiency now, set one day ahead, like a ratchet, Saturday yielding to Sunday by a single step, just as salvation was added in its completed form in a single, pivotal demonstration (cf. Romans 1:4).
The cessation of war on 1918 ? THIS was the completion of reparations, the armistice and the sacrifice completed all in one. It was not just for some nations to be free; it was for all men, whosoever would believe in Him, the only-begotten Son of God, sent from His Father, and all of such were covered. If the peace was selective, it was open, and it was free, paid not with the blood of millions, but with that of God's own Son, God purchasing the Church with that blood, all who should ever come to Him, all who had ever been His or would be.
This ONE MORE WORK since creation, then, without which man could have no adequate payment for his sins, or causeway to heaven, declared itself through the mouth and face, the body and life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, on the day of its performance. At this, Christ became the first-begotten from the dead, the womb of death now yielding for ever to the perfect victim whose perfect life shunned death as rain shuns aridity (Acts 2:24).
This New Covenant consummation, commemorated in a new day intimate with the event, has in the end nothing to do with churches as author (yet in that sense, A.A. Hodge of Princeton has brought together an impressive array of testimonies of the actions of the early church from near the time of John the apostle). Rather the Lord of the Church on that blessed day was launching Himself into His Church as authenticated Lord, artisan complete, expressing a love yet more profound - because more personal - than that shown in creation. And that? The making of man in His image was a thing of marvel, of splendour; yet this, it surpassed it.
It is no accident that Seventh Day Adventism, in this dabbling in this element of Judaism - which itself rejected the Jesus the Messiah altogether - does not teach simple, sure and certain entry into heaven at the end of the pilgrimage: no conditions, no contingencies, as Scripture by contrast DOES teach - but has a wholly unscriptural invisible advent of "Christ" last century! way back from the period of Miller's unfulfilled prophecies. "Work" is being done in "the sanctuary"...
What the Bible positively teaches, again by contrast, is a wholly public advent, for the coming of Christ - for His return, like lightning with mourning on the one hand, and rapture on the other, with eternal life free, uncondemnable, available at once by faith. (Indeed, Matthew 24:23-26 - warns precisely of secret, strange "christs" so only in name, and specifically predicts them: Matthew 24:27-30). A complete and free security in the one who has obtained eternal redemption, on the other hand, is continually attested to the believer ( I John 5:12-13, John 5:24, 10:9,27-28, Romans 5:8-11, II Timothy 1:9-10, Ephesians Chs. 1-2, Philippians 3:19-21, Romans 8, Hebrews 9). Heaven lies open through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus - Ephesians 1:1,5-11).
The work complete on that day when Christ commenced worship by His epochal arrival in their midst - authentic, present, victorious, heroic, demonstrated to be the Son of God with power, its focus and its heart: the church thrilled with reality. The "service" announced, the word and work just performed was interpreted by the greatest preacher of all: for if none were greater than John, as Christ said, among the prophets, and John was not worthy to loose His sandal strap ... Christ interpreted the work of Christ on that day, word and work in glorious harmony.
On the next Sunday, He confirmed His words and address with experimental
expression before the astonished eyes of Thomas; for the word of God is with
power as the apostle Paul stated (I Thessalonians 1:5). Here was the Saviour,
having just breasted the tape, conqueror over death, having swallowed up death
in victory (Isaiah 25:8). Here was He, the personal expression of life eternal
(I John 1:1-4), that eternal life of the Father who had come forth, available,
freely offered, as a basis whereby faith in Christ by grace receives the gift of
eternal life, the inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, which does not fade
(I Peter 1:2-8) - reserved, as Peter tells the Christians, in heaven for you.
Let us pair Galatians 6:14-15 with this fact. It reads:
· "God forbid that I should glory
· except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
· by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
· For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything,
· but a new creation."
The NEW CREATION
is the criterion of the payment for the old miscreancy!
What! glory in the Cross through some other day,
than that which the Cross required, for the triumph of the resurrection:
in the very face of the personal Church action of Christ on that day?
in the face of the
fact that it could not be sooner,
He being not then arisen,
· and was not later, He not missing a day in the blessing of the Christian assemblage!
As well might the Christian glory in any other lesser thing than that to which the eyes of our souls are directed: in this, that one and all are excluded.
As surely as the sun peeped over the horizon on the first day of the week, as the tomb yielded its victim as victor, and Christ physically rose, completing the last vast work of God through which we rest in the Lord:
so surely are Christian feet to move on that day till He come, to the worship in congregation of Him who paid the price to enable it
and commenced it
on the same first day of the week, authenticated, supreme (Romans 1:4, Mark
16:2, John 20:19-23).
On that same Sunday evening, conferring grace on His church, as previously envisaged (Matthew 18:14-20) and directed, He transformed the assembly by His triumphant presence, Himself then personally at work in their midst. Indeed, in His address to them on that day, they were commissioned for Christian service, in the full scope of the pardoning power of the Gospel: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
So and THEN on that first day of the week, were they sent by Him, as He had been sent by the Father, not teaching His own doctrine or doing His own will, but giving the doctrine which He had been commanded (John 12:48-50). AS He had been sent, SO they were sent, the words that will judge doing their effectual work (John 12:48), Thomas joining them to worship the Lord, "My Lord and my God", on the next recorded meeting as a congregation with Christ visibly in their midst.
Indeed, from Luke 24:13-35, we learn that on that same first Sunday, power, preaching and presence day par excellence, and that quite naturally, such was the supernatural action of the Almighty: Christ not only appeared and conversed with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, but in effect preached to them (24:26-27), expounding the Bible concerning His sufferings and glory. Nor was this all, on that same first day of the week, the inspired record elects to tell us, He appeared in the midst of the disciples who were duly gathered, granting them peace, comforting them with reality and word alike, inviting them to "Handle Me and see", His hands and feet available for inspection and demonstration!
With DIVINE proclamation, commissioning, authorising, comforting, exhorting,
challenging, preaching, teaching, the Lord HIMSELF instituted the Sunday
gathering by being there for the gathering, and being what they would gather
for, the triumphant Lord on His day that brought the perfume to His passion,
this day thus remembered at once by the church and to this day, honoured with
His honour, because this is no election of man, but of God. Let us then use it
as He enabled and exemplified, not for the works of the work-world, far less in
some alienation from the new Covenant, as if it were a cipher: but in devotion
like that of the disciples, to RECEIVE all He bestows on this His day of rest,
and to give alike in His grace.