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August 20, 2022 4:00 am
The fourth of the 10 Commandments used the one that calls us to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. But here in the 21st century. Does that still make sense is God's ancient law still relevant in the middle of this busy culture on this addition of Truth for Life weekend.
Alastair beg explores the clear and specific instruction. God has given us to set apart one day each week from all the rest invite you to take your Bibles and will turn to Exodus in there.
In Exodus chapter 20 we read in verse eight and following the words of the fourth commandment. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work on the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work. Neither you nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy Charlie in a moment of prayer. Our gracious God and father. This commandment, perhaps more than any other is militated against both outside the church, and inside the church and were going to come to terms with it for going to bow beneath the weight of its instruction were going to need the enabling power of the Holy Spirit to convince us of the truth of the word of God and so we ask for that today nothing more than that, and nothing less than that, so that we may be renewed in our inner being.
Regarding the truth of holy Scripture. We pray in Jesus name. Asking this, amen.
Now there are two things that mitigate against any good understanding of this commandment and their needs. On the one on an almost complete lack of conviction about any notion of the abiding significance of the fourth commandment will address that in a moment, and on the other hand, almost total confusion concerning the nature not only of all the 10 Commandments but peculiarly of this one day note, we can highlight this in a number of ways. Let me do so by quoting from the Civil War.
The Civil War is Stonewall Jackson Gen. Jackson is a legend in American history and if you have read of Jackson will know that he was a man of extreme principal character. At the very heart of this was his conviction of faith in Jesus Christ and his extreme rigorous character attached itself also to the observance of the Sabbath and writing in his biography's widow says certainly he was not less scrupulous in obeying the divine command to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy that he was in any other rule of his life since the creator and set apart this day for his own and commanded to be kept holy. He believed that it was wrong for him to desecrated by worldly pleasure, idleness, or secular employment as to break any other commandment of the Decalogue. Sunday was his busiest day of the week as he always attended church twice a day and talking to Sabbath schools he refrained as much as possible from all worldly conversation and in his family. If secular topics were introduced, he would say, with a kindly smile. We will talk about that tomorrow.
He never traveled on Sunday never took his mail from the post office nor permitted a letter of his own to travel on that day always, before posting it calculating the time required to reach his destination, one so strict and is on Sabbath observance naturally believe that it was wrong for the government to carry the mail on Sunday. Any organization which exacted secular labor of its employees in the Lord's day was, in his opinion, a violator of God's law, so his life was marked by a rigorous obedience to the law of God. I love once here's the quest is this quote from Jackson an anachronism. In other words, if Jackson was right. Where does that leave us because if we are right. Most of us he was wrong. But one thing is for sure were not both right. So we need to go to our Bibles then and determine who approximates to the instruction of God's word closely is at odds in our libertine rejection of the Lord's day or is it Jackson in his rigorous obedience on back and assess the context you're going to have to think with me.
I might as well that II feel the alien nature of this commandment so strongly that it couldn't be graphically portrayed anymore than if I were to come up here wearing the funniest suit you ever saw, and you can say all I understand why saying that is he's a fellow the wares that funny suit. He has a lot of quirks to levels we better get to grips with what the Bible states there are three points are going to address number one by going to consider the principal as it stated. Secondly, were going to look at the practice as it is observed and then were going to finally, that will be this evening to the practice. Apply okay. So sorry.
The principal stated the pattern observed in the practice apply the principle stated to summarize clearly in this first sentence of verse eight of Exodus 20, all of the rest of it is an application or an amplification of this straightforward command, namely remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy is nothing particularly difficult about that is very clear what it actually means demands our attention. But the clarity with which it is stated is obvious. As with the others you shall do this you shall not do that. It is clear, even a child can understand God's concern about the sanctity of one day in seven so it is absolutely vital that we come to understand that there is no convincing reason to believe as some have taught and continued to teach the fourth commandment is in a different category from the other nine. If you been around church life long enough, you may well have imbibed the notion that we have nine commandments and then we have one that is plaintive may be in and maybe out. Interestingly enough, the maybe out factor is a direct correlation with the prevailing impact of the surrounding culture. There was no maybe out in the mind of Stonewall Jackson.
There was no maybe out in the minds of our forefathers in this country.
There was no maybe out in the minds of the average Bible believing God-fearing church congregation, even 5040 13 years ago from today.
One of things I always do when I travel this country and I'm with older pastors. I always asked him tell me about the Lord's day when you were a young man and they describe a day that is very very different from today. Others are reason for that loved ones.
We need to find out what it is and we need to determine whether it is actually progress or regression. Well, you see, there are people who say that the for the fourth commandment has things that attached to it. Regulations Mosaic factors that are such that we don't do those things anymore, and therefore, because we don't do those things anymore. We no longer need to be governed by this commandment, but loved ones. This is just silly talk. For example, we recognize that there are Mosaic attachments to all of the commandments, not least of all to the fourth now in the fourth commandment, you aren't allowed to light fires on the Sabbath day.
That was a peculiar ceremonial attachment to if you broke the fourth commandment, the punishment was stoning so people say hey we are we light fires and we don't stone people.
Therefore, we don't get into this fourth commandment stop.
Therefore, we don't have a forthcoming no, because if you think it out. There were ceremonial attachments to all the other command take the Fifth Amendment honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land is not an abiding command is that regularly accepted within the chart yet everybody upholds that the fights of the matter is that of a young man cursed his father or his mother. The punishment was stoning. The seventh commandment, thou shalt not commit adultery, do we give credence to that and we uphold as we do and what happened to an adult or an adulterous. They were stone, we no longer stone people because those are the ceremonial accretions that were part and parcel of the Old Testament context, but the fact that we no longer entertain that which surrounded the command in no way negates the command doesn't for adultery. It doesn't for honoring your father and mother.
So the question is love once why in the world.
Should it for the fourth amendment and I put it to you that the reason that it does for the fourth commandment is because we don't like the implications of the fourth commandment, it cuts across our lives. It cuts across what we've become used to it cuts across our desires for acquisitiveness. It cuts across our commitment to leisure. It cuts across the God that we made a family living in frankly we are glad to set it apart as a different kind of command and the question that you must answer for yourself is, is there any abiding biblical validity for making that kind of distinction now were going to go on and follow this through and you must think along with remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Elbert sanctified the day. The phrase here means two things.
It means first of all remember the Sabbath day by setting it apart is what it means to keep it holy means to set it apart, all in what way is the day set apart what wonders seven days in the week that God made.
Yes. Did he just call one holy yes was there to be one that had he peculiar holy sanctified. I mentioned to it. Yes. So in what way was a set apart was set apart from all the other days it was a different day from every other day that God created, and he sanctioned this by his own example as we will see now, the immediate reaction to that on the part of some is to say, but you don't understand, or are maybe not so forcibly but disabled. What about the fight and every day is the Lord's day will there's a sense in which that's true. We ought to serve the Lord every day we are to serve the Lord. Every moment of every day on the way in which we do our work on to be a service to the Lord, and there is a realistic sense in which whether web brushing up on a factory floor with her were giving an injection of writing on a school blackboard are having some leases sign an insurance a proposal form or whatever else it is that we recognize that God is in charge and overrules in all of those moments of everyday but the fact is love ones that even when we acknowledge that it in no way said society need the distinctive almond of this fourth commandment isolating this one day in seven and possessing it with distinction which God has her name so I would once we acknowledge that God is in charge of everyday needs doesn't set apart the five God said, remember this particular day in a peculiar way and making a different day. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand. That's what it's saying that's not an interpretation that simply what it say the implications that we can going to discuss. That's what you say or think of the beauty, John Murray, the late John Murray, Prof. Westminster theological seminary says to obliterate the difference between one day and the other six to obliterate the difference may appear pious, but it is pi All-City, not piety is not piety to be wiser than God is in piety of the darkest human the Sabbath day is different from every other day and to obliterate this distinction in thought or practice is to destroy what is the essence of the institution. There is a wealth contained in that statement.
Let me let me summarize it for the recognition of the distinction of the day is indispensable to its observance, so that unless you and I be convinced that God has distinguished this day for all of time and I because he has distinguished it in this way, we must live within the framework of what he is laid down, then any attempts at keeping the Sabbath day will simply be as a result either of legalistic externalism or as a result of a kind of time honored tradition or as a result of the reinforcement of what is become customary for us now. I grew up as a child in Scotland in exactly that position, and all children must furtively ask a child for that they like the idea of a different day on the Lord's day. The answer is no, I do not. So we wouldn't ask.
We would tell this is the framework and any child unredeemed unregenerate is going to buck the system. Sound like this and I don't like this day and I don't want to do this and I don't want to worship certainly don't want to do it twice and I'm not going in. I don't like the Sunday school. I'm sick and tired of the whole operation is fine honey, I heard I've been there.
Now let's go.
Let's just continue just as we said we were doing were on our way now unless the day dawns when God by his spirit redeems that child and in the heart of that child what to that point has been simply the observance of custom and it now becomes the conviction of their tiny life. Then from that day, everything changes because once they have become convinced, once the ownership of the principal in their own lives. Then they no longer do things simply as a result of constraint, but they do them. As a result of an internal conviction now is true is that is of children. It is true of us all, and that is why many of us continue to buck the ideal of the Lord's day because it is a conviction about its distinction, which creates relevance to its observance and since we have never come to a conviction about his distinction anytime anyone suggests to as that. This is what may comprise the Lord's day, our answer is, who do they think they are to tell me what I want to do with my time. It's not your time, and it's not my time every breath I breathe is a gift from God and he is in charge of my time and he created time and so that in the way that he intended intends that the utilization of time shall bear testimony to the distinction of his creative handiwork shall bear testimony to the fact that we are his covenant children. You see the same thing is true of any commandment, if you take the commandment. For example, in relationship to adultery. If you and I are only going to keep the commandment regarding adultery on the basis of its pragmatic usefulness but not as a result of his rightness as a result of divine authority not as a result of an internal conviction, then we are left to the winds of circumstance to blow, then within the situation and somebody says why not.
And since the commandment is simply kind of practical accretion for us and is not an internal conviction for then the smell of the perfume or the heat of the evening on the drive of the passion may be enough to take us right in to total seven because we never internalize the command and so as soon as the circumstances went against the were swept into chaos. That is exactly I put it to you what is happening with the Lord's day in the continental United States and in the Western world at large. We have vast numbers of people who have never become convinced of the distinction of the day. They have no internal conviction about the day about his abiding relevance. So when somebody says why don't we do this, why don't we go there. Why don't we do whatever it is dancers you. Why not because after all, the only lingering notion that we have the any abiding relevance of the command is that it is something to do with not lighting fires and not riding your bicycle are for not doing a bunch of stuff that we've picked up from somewhere along the line, but we don't have any notion of. So if I can express it as clearly as possible observance of the Lord's Sabbath quickly becomes obsolete if it does not spring from the sense of sanctity generated and nourished by the fact that God set apart this day for our that is not irksome's not a punishment itself phenomenal, liberating privilege until we understand the distinction and apply it.
We will internalize any expressions of it as either anachronisms or quirks of human personality. How else could chariots of fire suite. The Academy Awards and sweet nation of non-churchgoers and churchgoers, and by and large, to almost 100% degree completely pass people by in terms of the implication of what the whole movie was about at least a little side effect remember him. The royalty in the end, the head of the Olympic Committee in that scene where they bring them in and sit them down. Now come on little for the sake of your kingdom for your country to put aside these silly ideas of yours about about the Sabbath and about the Lord's day. Remember his reply. I would never set aside my cane or my country saved that there was a higher power, a higher authority.
The one who sets up kings and the one who brings down James and I will not run.
There is no person in the movie theater who didn't find something inside of them say no I love that kind of conviction. What was it was a conviction about the distinction of that day once he's sampled that's then everything flowed from what I'm telling you said: nothing will flow from except legalism and the constraints of custom and tradition, there are no babies about the Sabbath is to be set apart from the other six days of the week.
This is true for like weakened Alastair Begg will have more for us on this topic next weekend.
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