Praise the LORD

Pastor:    Praise the LORD , O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

 Congregation:  Praise the LORD, O my soul,  and forget not all his benefits- 

thPastor:    who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Congregation: who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Pastor:     who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 

Congregation: Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Pastor:   Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,  you his servants who do his will. 

Congregation: Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion

 ALL:      Praise the LORD, O my soul.

Guest Post on Sabbath Observance

One of the most influential books I have ever read (and re-read) is Human nature in its Fourfold State, by Thomas Boston. Originally published in 1720, by this Scottish Puritan, my copy is a paperback published in 1964. It is much dog-eared and notated. This is a goldmine which must be absorbed in short draughts.

I publish here a piece from Boston’s section on regeneration, wherein he claims that the unregenerate would not enjoy heaven – nor could they. The section quoted below, while dealing with sabbath observance directly only in the last two sections (in red print), the rest of the excerpt is just too good to be left out and adds to our understanding of what Boston is explaining.

Enjoy this wonthderful “guest blog” from a Puritan preacher and scholar.

The unregenerate would find fault with heaven on several accounts. As,

(1.) That it is a strange country. Heaven is the renewed man’s native country: his Father is in heaven; his mother is Jerusalem, which is above, Gal. 4:26. He is born from above, John 3:3. Heaven is his home, 2 Cor. 5:1; therefore, he looks on himself as a stranger on this earth, and his heart is homeward, Heb. 11:16, “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly country.” But the unregenerate man is the man of the earth, Psalm 10:18; written in the earth, Jer. 17:13. Now, “Home is home, be it ever so homely:” therefore, he minds earthly things, Phil. 3:19. There is a peculiar sweetness in our native soil; and with difficulty are men drawn to leave it, and dwell in a strange country. In no case does that prevail more than in this; for unrenewed men would forfeit their pretensions to heaven, were it not that they see they cannot make a better bargain.

(2.) There is nothing in heaven that they delight in, as agreeable to the carnal heart, Rev. 21:27, “For there shall never enter into it anything that defiles.” When Mahomet explained his paradise to be a place of sensual delights, his religion was greedily embraced; for that is the heaven men naturally choose. If the covetous man could get bags full of gold there, and the voluptuous man could promise himself his sensual delights, they might be reconciled to heaven, and fitted for it too; but since it is not so, though they may utter fair words about it, truly it has little of their hearts.

(3.) Every corner there is filled with that which of all things they have the least liking for; and that is holiness, true holiness, perfect holiness. Were one who abhors swine’s flesh, bidden to a feast where all the dishes were of that sort of meat—but variously prepared, he would find fault with every dish at the table, notwithstanding all the art used to make them palatable. It is true, there is joy in heaven—but it is holy joy; there are pleasures in heaven—but they are holy pleasures; there are places in heaven—but it is holy ground: that holiness which in every place, and in everything there—would mar all to the unregenerate.

(4.) Were they carried there, they would not only change their place, which would be a great heart-break—but they would change their company too. Truly, they would never like the company there, who care not for communion with God here; nor value the fellowship of his people, at least in the vitals of practical godliness. Many, indeed, mix themselves with the godly on earth, to procure a name to themselves, and to cover the sinfulness of their hearts; but that trade cannot be managed there.

(5.) They would never like the employment of heaven, they care so little for it now. The business of the saints there would be an intolerable burden to them, seeing it is not agreeable to their nature. To be taken up in beholding, admiring, and praising him that sits on the throne, and the Lamb, would be work unsuitable, and therefore unsavoury to an unrenewed soul.

(6.) They would find this fault with it, that the whole is of everlasting continuance. This would be a killing ingredient in it to them. How would such as now account the Sabbath day a burden, brook the celebration of an everlasting Sabbath in the heavens!

pp. 247-248 in 1964 paperback edition from The Banner of Truth Trust.

Comments?

 

Eternal Sabbath

As we come to the end of our brief study on the Biblical concept of Sabbath, it remains for us to deal with the eschatological aspects. In other words, what does the future hold for Sabbath observers?

The Epistle to the Hebrews anticipates an eschatological “sabbath rest” (sabbatismos) that remains for the people of God. Hebrews 4:1-11, is an important passage for us to read in this regard.th

Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,

‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

The term sabbatismos, Sabbath rest, appears nowhere else in the New Testament, and may be the writer’s own creation to indicate the superiority of our future rest to that of the seventh day. Though a superior quality of rest, it is still marked chiefly by the cessation of labor patterned after God’s rest on the seventh day.

This final rest is only for Christians. Revelation 14:12-13 states

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

So, this eternal, rest will not be a complete stoppage of all activity. It will be like an active retirement. It will look like this,

 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

“Therefore they are before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;

and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;

the sun shall not strike them,

nor any scorching heat.

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,

and he will guide them to springs of living water,

and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17).

The idea is that you work during your lifetime, but don’t allow yourself to become a slave as Israel did when they worked 400 years without a vacation (Deuteronomy 5:15) and were, therefore counted as slaves. Always be looking forward to the time when you are no longer a slave to schedule but will have the opportunity to worship God as your full-time activity.

 

NOTE: Next week we conclude this study with a comment (guest blog, if you will) from a Puritan writer.

 

The Sabbath as a Holy Day

Most of us enjoy our holidays, whether it be a day off for Labor Day, a national holiday, or simply a vacation day (or week). In some places, of course the entire concept is taken to extremes. Workers in France, for instance, often take the entire month of August off.

Here in Curt’s blothg, we return to our study of the original Holy Day. Having looked at Sabbath as a sign of the covenant and as a mandate rather than a suggestion, let’s turn our attention to the enjoyment of the holy day.

The spirit of the Sabbath is joy, refreshment and mercy, arising from remembrance of God’s goodness as Creator and as the Deliverer from bondage. The Sabbath was given as a perpetual sign and covenant, and the holiness of the day is connected not only with the holiness of God, but also with the holiness of the people. They are holy because the God of the Sabbath sanctifies them. As we read in Ezekiel, “Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.” (Ezekiel 20:12; see also Exodus 31:12-17).

  • Joy was the key-note of Israel’s services. Nehemiah commanded the people, on a day holy to Jehovah, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:9-13).
  • The Sabbath is also named as a day of special worship in the sanctuary. We read in Leviticus “You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:30; 26:2). My thoughts on the all-too-forgotten concept of a sanctuary can be found here.
  • The sabbath was proclaimed as a holy convocation. Leviticus teaches, “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.” (Leviticus 23:3). As I’ve written in a previous blog, controversy abounds as to what constitutes work on the sabbath. “Can we enjoy recreational activities? Watch football on TV? Do we have to attend two or more church services on Sunday? Does corporate worship include clapping, drama, music? We will leave those arguments for some other time. The fact is that we are to observe a Sabbath, which includes worship of the Creator who has blessed that day.”

The observance of a Sabbath is not intended to be a burden. Nor is to be seen as merely taking off a day out of the week. It is a sign of recognition that God is God. It’s an indication of our trust in a sovereign God who can take care of things quite nicely even if we take a day off.

Meet and Greet – including us

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Sandra and I are thrilled to announce that we will be taking part in the Meet & Greet Christian Authors event to be held in Methuen, MA on April 25th at the Nevins Memorial Library. If you are going to be in the area, please plan to join us. There will be giveaways and lots of excitement. For more info and to get tickets (which are free) got to this site.

Here’s all the info:

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