September 21 - LD 38, Day 5: A Day Set Apart
Friday the 21st of September
in Heidelberg Catechism Meditations
Hebrews 4:9 - “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.”
We sometimes speak of the Sabbath as the foretaste of everlasting glory. That's what it is when we are truly entering into that rest. We experience in a special way the fellowship of our God and enjoy His conversation with us, His instruction, His gospel. We gather with His people to remember His mighty work of grace with us and to glorify Him, as the body of the redeemed. When we focus our whole-hearted attention upon Him, to the praise of the glory of His grace, then we are enjoying a foretaste of heaven. That is the Sabbath. That's the day of rest.
In order for the Sabbath to be a day of rest, however, it must also be a day for holiness. That is why it is a day set apart for the people of God. The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. There are those who like to quote a passage like Mark 2:27b, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:," as if Jesus meant to say that we now have the freedom to do what we wish on the Sabbath. But let us not forget, our freedom is not in self-seeking, but in serving God. So he should also continue to say, "Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath." We keep the Lord's day holy by using it unto the Lord.
The catechism emphasizes from a positive point of view how we set apart the Sabbath day and make it holy. We do so as members of His Church on this earth. We do so particularly by gathering for worship on the Lord’s Day. If the character of the Sabbath day is that of entering into fellowship with God by contemplating the revelation of Himself in Holy Scripture, then the heart of this day is found pulsating through the ministry of the Word. Preaching must always receive the primary emphasis in the Church's worship. To keep the Sabbath day holy we must hear faithful preaching. Living in obedience to the fourth commandment means that we diligently frequent the church of God, fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and join in the worship of Jehovah our God. He alone gives rest.