Joel Beeke addresses the topic of the 4th commandment and Sabbath observance in his book Puritan Reformed Spirituality. The discussion comes up under the heading of the "third use of the law" (also called the "didactic use of the law"), which reminds us that the law is to be a guide for Christian living.
I provide a few of the grand quotes from the book below. There are a number of thought provoking words that can be gleaned from this chapter. But I'd like to simply offer a word about how a high view of the Lord's Day is good for the soul.
The principle of setting one day aside for God recenters a person. It forces you to live your life in such a way that it revolves around the Lord, and not your sports, work, kids, or personal inclinations. Taking the Sabbath seriously means putting life in order: I have six days to do everything I need and want; I have one day to dedicate myself and my family to God.
The fourth commandment, then, serves as a time out. It slows you down so that you are not racing here and there, running from this or that activity, and pushing your mind/body with more labor or unnecessary activity.
In sum, there is a peace that it naturally (and supernaturally) affords. When you make it your aim to truly set apart (i.e. to make holy) Sunday to the Lord, you reap a benefit of soundness of mind, body, and soul.
Indeed, the whole family is unified and given some degree of peace as each person is brought together and forced to lay aside their typical pursuits that take them in all the different directions which they normally go.
Those who observe the fourth commandment no doubt find that it fulfills the call of Christ which says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."
The following are a few choice quotes from this section of Beeke's book:
"The forces of secularization and the rise of the leisure culture, obsessed with pursuing recreations of all kinds, have extinguished concern for Sabbath observance in the general population."
"Men are destroying themselves because they cannot say no, whether at work or at play. Great spiritual blessings are promised to those who subject themselves to the self-denying discipline of Sabbath observance."
On Hebrews 4.9, which says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God," Beeke notes that "because the word he uses for 'rest' is sabbatismos, or 'a keeping of sabbath,' the obligation to observe a weekly Sabbath continues under the gospel."
"Sabbath-keeping became a mark of Christian discipleship in the age of the martyrs, as Maurice Roberts relates: 'One question put to the martyrs before they were put to death was: "Dominicum servasti?" (Do you keep the Lord's Day?).'"
Christ's conflict with the Pharisees must be viewed therefore as a campaign not to destroy but rather to reclaim and restore the Biblical institution of the Sabbath."
"We must engage in those activities which obtain, increase, and express knowledge of the holiness of God, and our own holiness in Christ. [For, as Scripture says,] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
Speaking on Isaiah 58:13-14 Beeke says, "Here the prophet extends the ban on engaging in labor to include the pursuit of our personal recreations and leisure-time activities. Even the words we speak are to be regulated by the commandment."
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