It’s striking that one of the repeated judgments of the prophets in the Old Testament is Israel’s failure to keep Sabbath. Instead of resting from their ordinary labors and gathering for worship, they did their normal work on the Sabbath and refused to rest. The Sabbath was a sign that God’s people were His royal people. He had delivered them from slavery. Slaves do not get days off, but free men and women get a weekly holiday.
The challenge before us in seeking to recover a Sabbath-celebrating culture is that there is often a temptation to turn what God intends for joy and relief into a day of grumpy rules and stingy regulations. But the center of Christian Sabbath keeping is this table full of grace. Here, we sit down in God’s presence and remember God’s great salvation for us. Here, we sit down together as God’s people and toast God’s mercy and kindness. Here, we rest in the work of Jesus for us which is free and freely given.
Hebrews 4 says that just as God rested after making the world, Jesus rested after remaking the world, and therefore a Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. God made the world and rested on the seventh day, and therefore the Sabbath was Saturday for old Israel, but Jesus remade the world in His death and resurrection, and He rested on the first day of the week, Sunday, and therefore we rest on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.
Think of Sabbath-celebrating like a weekly Christmas or Thanksgiving. Actually, it is a weekly Easter. Try to plan ahead, plan to go to church, and then think of ways to make the day special, put some chocolates out, select your favorite beer or wine, take a nap, go for a walk, feast together, and remember God’s goodness and mercy. It’s strange that we have such a hard time accepting God’s grace. He wants us to fight the darkness by celebrating His light. He wants us to fight slavery by acting like free men.
Our land was once marked by Sabbath-keeping, and it was once marked by a lot more freedom. We will not recover that freedom with a bunch of scowling and grumpy rules, but we will recover that freedom through hearts full of free grace, tables loaded with free grace because the joy of the Lord is our strength. And that is what is offered to you here. Come and rest in your King. Come and Welcome to Jesus Christ.