Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2017.08.16 Worship Wednesday - The Day of Worship, Introduction and Chapter 1

On these Worship Wednesdays, we are reading The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan McGraw. Today, we  got through the Introduction and Chapter 1.

I'm reading this book on the Kindle, and so trying to use my highlights for quoting. It's an experiment. It took a little longer than expected to format, so I will probably have to read a little less on future Wednesdays.

Also, I hope to get faster at it, and more established in identifying locations of citations. In the end, it may be easier just to give a couple paragraph summary instead of pasting so many quotes.

The "Location" refers to the Kindle location. Here's what I found noteworthy, with some comments...

As a new believer, I had not given particular attention to the fourth commandment, or Sabbath day. I was shocked when a minister told me that not only should I refrain from my worldly employments on the Sabbath day, but that I should abstain from recreations and conversation that would be lawful on other days. He also taught me that the Sabbath was designed by God to be a day in which the entire time was to be spent in the joyful duties of public and private worship, which is meant to be a foretaste of heaven itself. 
Location: 61.
 Almost every believer I meet today is in the position in which Dr. McGraw describes himself.
There was a time in which Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Congregationalists, and even some Anglicans and Dutch Reformed shared a fundamental unity on how the Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath, should be kept. All of these denominations held in common what is today referred to as the Puritan view of the Sabbath. The Westminster Shorter Catechism has set forth this view: “The Sabbath is to be sanctified by an holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days, and by taking up the entire time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy” 
Location: 69.
This is still the confession and position of our church, but so few resist it. God have mercy upon us! This was once the position of nearly all evangelical churches. How far we have slid!

The next series of quotes (still in the introduction) are McGraw's helpful summary of his book:
Chapters 1 and 2 address the importance of Sabbath-keeping in Scripture.
Chapters 3 and 4 are an attempt to examine the factors that affect the proper interpretation of Isaiah 58:13–14.
Chapters 5 and 6... maintain that our aversion to Sabbath-keeping is not always an exegetical or theological problem, but rather a symptom of the greater problem of worldliness that has entered into the church.
Chapter 7 then proceeds to establish the practices of Sabbath-keeping from a Reformed view of the law of God.
Chapter 8 introduces some miscellaneous practical helps.
Chapter 9,.. examine[s] the nature of legalism... lax views of Sabbath-keeping, as well as the rest of the commandments of God, are at times symptomatic of legalistic views of the gospel.
Chapter 10 presents an a posteriori argument for Sabbath-keeping by connecting the Sabbath to the biblical picture of heaven. 
The plan of the book is ambitious, especially with its small size, but I'm even more eager to read it now than before! I wish all who read it could know Ryan, and his quiet godliness, mild earnestness, and tender interest in those with whom he pleads. But, I trust that will come out in the text.
if all I do is convince you that you must set apart the Sabbath for worship, then I have failed in my purpose entirely. This book addresses much more significant issues, such as the kind of obedience required by the gospel, the relation of the believer to an unbelieving world, the relationship between the law and the gospel, and the focus of our hope of eternal life.
Location: 117
I hope that he accomplishes his purpose with me! I have known and understood the connections between Sabbath keeping and the Christian life in general for a long time, and yet, have not enjoyed the desired/biblical effect to the extent that I wish

Chapter 1
It is often the case that harmful practices are taken for granted by the masses with no suspicion that these practices are threatening to kill an entire generation.
Location: 140
And, I would add, that the more they are taken for granted, the more people squeal if you point them out!
most professing Christians will readily agree to work on the Sabbath [...] Many do not self-consciously make Sabbath-keeping a matter of worship and obedience to the Lord, even though they take it for granted that the fourth commandment is still binding upon believers.
Location: 145
It is like with so many of our duties--failure to approach them as acts of devotion and worship result in a legalistic/rote approach to them, in which we let ourselves off the hook of "the heart situation" involved, and as many of the details as we can ingeniously release ourselves from keeping as well. How much worse to take the worship attitude out of keeping the day of worship!
In Scripture, Sabbath-breaking is presented as one of the greatest causes of the weakness of the church and serves as a lightning rod that attracts the judgment of God to churches and nations.
Location: 151
The Sabbath is not a peripheral issue,
Location: 155
At this point in Chapter 1, McGraw proceeds to show the importance of the Sabbath, "demonstrated by its place among creation ordinances, because it is a sign of the covenant of grace, because of its frequent mention in Scripture (particularly the prophets), because of its relation to Israel’s exile, and because of its purpose as a day of worship." Location: 156

Creation Ordinance
Creation ordinances are independent of any written law of God and even independent of any consideration of the fall of man and of redemption. God’s creation ordinances are marriage, labor, and the Sabbath
Location: 164
[Christ's] argument was essentially this: Every ordinance that God instituted at creation is perpetually binding upon the practices of mankind;
Location: 173
That God sanctified the seventh day means He set it apart as holy. When God gave the Ten Commandments, He appealed to this sanctification to enforce the reason His people must keep the Sabbath day.
Location: 181
Sabbath-keeping is as integral to man’s life as marriage and labor.
Location: 187
Sign of the Covenant of Grace
That the Sabbath became a sign of the covenant of grace as well raises the sin of Sabbath-breaking to horrific proportions.
Location: 191
In Deuteronomy 5, however, they were instructed to “keep” (v. 12) the Sabbath for a different reason: “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out
Location: 196
He did attach to it a new significance. All men must keep the Sabbath because God is their creator, but God’s people must keep it because He is their redeemer as well.
Location: 200
Yet there is more to this deliverance than simple freedom from slavery. Israel was delivered from the wrath and curse of God Himself. At the first Passover, the blood of a lamb had to be placed over the doors
Location: 204
The full redemptive significance of both the exodus and the Sabbath day is found in the redemption from sin and from the wrath of God that was purchased by Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Location: 213
Exodus 31:13–16: Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.
Location: 217
At the creation, the Lord had sanctified the Sabbath; now the Sabbath would serve as a sign that the Lord had sanctified the people, by virtue of a covenantal relationship.
Location: 222
When the church neglects the Sabbath, is it not an implicit declaration that she has not been sanctified by the Lord to be His people? Why do we refuse to treasure the day that is a sign that the Lord has sanctified us to be His people by the covenant of grace?[3] When we remember the Sabbath, it is a perpetual reminder to us that the Lord of the Sabbath is the one who has set us apart to be His people through the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20).
Location: 224
in light of the connection of the Sabbath to the glorious plan of salvation, do you not see why men were put to death for such a crime? What is at stake presently is not simply a matter of working one Sunday in order to avoid making employers uncomfortable
Location: 237
neglect of the Sabbath today actually demonstrates a form of contempt for the covenant of grace.
Location: 240
This last quote is really the nub of the whole thing: God took a particular creation ordinance and made that ordinance a sign of the covenant of grace. Everyone on earth should view the Sabbath as a holy, sacred day of delight for worshiping God. Why don't they? Because they are in bondage to their sin and in rebellion against God!

So God takes those whom He is saving from that bondage and makes their keeping of this creation ordinance a special sign of how He has saved us from our sin, and brought us into a relationship with Him in which we are sacred and special to Him, just as His day is. And what do we do? Use all of our theological reasoning powers to show how much we dislike this sign (thereby pouring contempt upon the thing that it signifies!)

O, may the God of grace yet spare us and grant us repentance for how we have been breaking this commandment and despising this sign!

Place of Prominence in Scripture

The sheer number of biblical passages dealing with the subject, coupled with the solemnity inherent in the passages,
Location: 245
Sabbath is mentioned in at least 159 verses in the Old Testament.
Location: 247
the prophets of the Old Testament did not make laws, but rather served as the prosecution, representing God and enforcing His law against His backsliding people. [...]The references to the Sabbath among the prophets are impressive; they lay great stress on the importance of the question of Sabbath-keeping.
Location: 262
McGraw proceeds to quote a small sampling. I found Jer 17:19-27 very instructive as to how God has appointed the Sabbath as a sign to which He will respond with outpouring of blessing (much the same way as we noted recently about Baptism and the Supper).

Also important was the discussion of the manner in which Jesus instructed about commandments in response to Pharisaical abuse, and that this did not take away from any of those commandments themselves. Thus...
it is not true to say that the Lord Jesus taught less about the Sabbath than the other commandments. He gave instructions concerning Sabbath-keeping more often than any other commandment. That He did so in a “negative” manner by contradicting the Pharisees does not reflect poorly upon the Sabbath, but rather upon the Pharisees.
Location: 267
Role of Sabbath in the Exile
Leviticus 26:34–35 states: “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest [for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it].”
Location: 330
2 Chronicles 36:20–21...
Sabbath-breaking was not the only reason for the exile, but it was the sole factor that determined the length of the exile.
Location: 339
Is this only regarding letting land lie fallow? No, it is very specifically connected to keeping the creation ordinance/fourth commandment of the moral law (which is perpetual, as opposed to ceremonial or civil law). This is demonstrated by Nehemiah's argument in chastening the people in Nehemiah 13...
Israel had many “Sabbaths” (see Lev. 23), and that the summary principle enforcing all of them was the fourth commandment. The “Sabbath days,” such as the seventh-year Sabbath, were aspects of the ceremonial law and would pass away with the coming of the new covenant in Christ (Col. 3:16). However, breaking the seventh-year Sabbath violated the principle of the fourth commandment.
Location: 348
the violation of the seventh-year Sabbath was a sign of contempt for the fourth commandment as a whole
Location: 360
That Nehemiah cited Sabbath-breaking as one of the primary causes of the wrath of God in the exile makes it difficult to conclude that he did not have in view passages such as Leviticus 26 and 2 Chronicles 36. Yet Nehemiah 13 reproved those violating the weekly Sabbath, not the seventh-year Sabbath.
Location: 367
It is worth noting how the people in Nehemiah 13 broke the Sabbath.[...] “If the peoples of the land brought wares or any grain to sell on the Sabbath day, we would not buy it from them on the Sabbath” (Neh. 10:31, my translation).
Location: 371
So many today think that Sabbath-breaking is not so bad, if it is done by employing unbelievers, but this was exactly the sin for which Nehemiah was condemning them!!
we are not only commanded to refrain from our own labors on the Sabbath, but we must not buy and sell goods on the Sabbath. How does this apply to us today? It seems indisputable that we should not do grocery shopping on the Sabbath. It should also be shameful that so many Christians rush from corporate worship to restaurants on the Sabbath. Poor planning in not making sure we have enough gas in the car on Saturday does not make buying gas on Sunday a work of necessity; it is an act of sin that must be repented of by checking the gas gauge next Saturday.
Location: 378
How can we, in good conscience, pay someone else on the Sabbath to do that for which God once demanded the death penalty?
Location: 384
Though we should not apply this penalty today, do we dare say that God chose a punishment out of proportion to the crime? How can we pay someone to perform a task that would be sin for us to perform? The reasoning of believers at this point is, frankly, appalling.
Location: 385
We forget that the Lord of the exile is the same Jesus who threatens to remove His lampstand from specific churches and regions of churches. How long can we test His patience before we find ourselves in a dark age, while the advance of the Gospel continues instead somewhere else on the earth? God have mercy upon us!
If Sabbath-breaking is cited as a cause for sending Israel into exile, how long will God patiently observe our disregard for His day before severely chastening our sins?
Location: 396
Location: 398
By her Sabbath-breaking, is the church prompting God to send her into a new “Babylonian captivity”? Or has her captivity already begun? 
I believe the last item in the list "Day of Worship" is actually given its entire chapter in Chapter 2. Next week, then!

What struck you about these chapters? How have you found the reading so far? I think it's easier to have a more recently written book, and one by a preacher who is following a logical procession while trying to plead with and convince us of the biblical position.

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