The Rule of Law: First Things (32)
“Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” Exodus 31.13
When I was playing college football, we practiced five days a week so that we could play well on one. We didn’t practice all day, but we practiced every day. And we didn’t play all day on Saturday, either, just in the afternoon. In the Kingdom economy, there’s a sense in which that protocol is reversed. We practice one day of the week, all day long, in order to live well all day long on the other six.
The Lord’s Day provides an opportunity for concentrated practice on the priorities of living for the Lord. By focusing exclusively on exercises and activities that hone love for God and neighbors, and that reinforce the call to holiness, we prepare for a week of living in love and holiness out of a soul recharged for living under the rule of God’s Law.
Keeping the Sabbath – the Lord’s Day – should be high on the weekly priorities of every believer, for God intends it as a time to rehearse, reinforce, and renew the first three priorities governing the conscience.
On the Lord’s Day we nurture fear and love of our God. We love our neighbors by maintaining a proper witness to them concerning this day and its importance, and by joining with other believers to encourage them in the worship of God. Throughout the Lord’s Day, we nurture and practice the holiness we seek in ways appropriate to this most important day of the week.
The Lord’s Day is a sign between God and His people. It is His Day, and He commands us to keep (literally, guard) the day according to His purposes. He has given us the Sabbath as a day to reflect on Him, His Kingdom and glory, our salvation, and His calling for us. We should receive the Lord’s Day each week as a reminder that God commands us to fear and love Him, and that He has called us to holiness as a people in His sight. By practicing disciplines of worship, rest, reading, prayer, holy conversation, meditation, planning and review, and the like on the Lord’s Day, we refocus and recharge our souls to live for the Lord during the week ahead.
The two iterations of the fourth commandment (Ex. 20.8-11and Deut. 5.12-15) include two specific kinds of activities and two motivations. We are to remember and guard the Lord’s Day because it reminds us that God is our Creator and our Redeemer.
We remember the Lord’s Day by preparing for it diligently and using all the time of that day to rest in the Lord and His providential and redeeming grace. We are to remember the Lord’s Day in the same way the Lord remembers His covenant with us, by continuous, detailed, loving attention to every moment (Ex. 2.24).
At the same time, God commands us to guard His Day against any intrusions from normal, everyday activities, such as work or personal recreation. By keeping the Lord’s Day, preparing for it well and guarding it against any distractions from its divine purpose, we discipline our conscience to preserve the priorities of love for God and neighbor and the pursuit of holiness.
This weekly reminder and discipline is extremely important, given our tendency to drift into sinful ways. We will more firmly establish love for God, love for our neighbors, and the pursuit of holiness in our souls if we regard Sabbath-keeping as a very high priority, indeed, and give it all the attention and care this high priority requires.
T. M. Moore
The Law of God is the soil which, fertilized by the rest of God’s Word and watered by His Spirit, brings forth the fruit of the Christian life. If you’d like to understand this process better, and how to make best use of the Law in your walk with and work for the Lord, order the book, The Ground for Christian Ethics, from our online store.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.