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Author:Rev. Mark Chen
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Congregation:First Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore
 Singapore
 ferc.org.sg
 
Preached At:
 
 
Title:Remember Christ Your Creator and Redeemer
Text:LD 38 Exodus 20:8-11, Hebrews 4: (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic: 4th Commandment (Resting)
 
Preached:2021
Added:2022-06-08
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Trinity Hymnal Revised 1990, The Psalter 1912

Psalter 251 - Joyful Worship
TH 267 - The Day of Resurrection!
TH 390 - Lord of the Sabbath, Hear Us Pray
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Remember Christ Your Creator and Redeemer

LD 38, Exodus 20:8-11, Hebrews 4:1-10

When we’re grateful to God, we worship him alone. We worship him the way he wants us to. We honor him alone and hold him in highest esteem. And we set aside time to remember him by worshiping him. These are the first four commandments. But when we’re not grateful, we forget him. We can often take these commandments and worship them instead of worshiping God, thus breaking the first commandment. We can complain - why can’t we sing that new biblical song - and fail to worship God with the biblical praises we already have, thereby breaking the second commandment. We focus so much on not saying minced oaths like “O My Gosh” but fail to honor God in keeping our promises, breaking the third. And today, we can focus so much on what you can’t do on the Lord’s Day, that we don’t actually do with joy the things we must do, breaking the fourth. We take what God has given and fill it with sin. 

As we consider the fourth commandment to keep it, we must remember that it is about worshiping Christ on his appointed day. We won’t consider why the Sabbath is now the first day of the week instead of the last; nor why it’s called the Lord’s Day. But it is - and the focal point is the worship of our Lord. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” The Sabbath commandment is not just a day that is foisted upon God’s people to keep. It is a picture - a lesson for us; that when we keep the day holy and special, there are real benefits to us. Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man. We are called to remember; and there are 5 things that we’re called to remember. Firstly, we remember Christ our creator, secondly, remember Christ our re-creator; thirdly, remember Christ our redeemer; fourthly, remember Christ our master; and fifthly, remember Christ our forerunner.

Firstly, we remember Christ our creator. The Lord’s day is meant to point us to Christ as the maker of heaven and earth. Verse 11 - “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” This points to his power as the one by his word spoke and the word came into existence. God did not create the world by laboring hard - he simply spoke. And God took only 6 days to do it. Yes, he could’ve done it in 1. But the fact that all creation - the planets, the moon, the sun - in our solar system; the billions of stars in our own galaxies; the billions of galaxies - down to the minutest sub-atomic particles; and the planets - including earth and all the trees, seas, animals, and microbes - the water systems, the water cycle; and our physiology - the circulatory system, the endocrine, pulmonary, etc - he did in 6 days. And on the 7th day, he rested - or more accurately - ceased from creation. This pattern was meant to impress on us his power.

But it was also meant to impress on us his intention - his intelligence. His creation was not haphazard - it was planned. On the first day, light; the second, the sky; the third, dry ground and plants; the fourth, the sun, moon, and stars; the fifth, the birds and sea animals; the sixth, land animals and mankind. This can’t fit into any evolutionary scheme - plants came before the sun. There was intention and order to God’s creation. And therefore it was not by chance. 

And furthermore, when we remember Christ as creator, we also remember our own existence. We are intended by God. The fact that he made Adam from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him and made Eve from Adam - it’s not only intentional, but relational. And therefore, so is our worship of him on the day he has set apart for us. We were created to worship.

Therefore this also points to our accountability to him - as well as our sinfulness. We may not have been there at Sinai to receive these laws - but they apply to us too. The fact that God called them to remember the Sabbath day means that it preceded the giving of the Law. And they were told to remember it because they had forgotten it, or they had rejected it. Because it was applicable to them from the beginning, it’s applicable to us even now. It was given at creation. And despite sin and the curse, God never removed rest. 

The reason for that is because this pattern, he intends for us to remember something else. Secondly, remember Christ our re-creator. The six days of work followed by a rest day would be a symbol of the eternal rest that believers will have. This world is broken - there’s sin. By the sweat of our brow we are laboring, but one day there is eternal rest. We read in Hebrews 4:9 - “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” As I said earlier, the Sabbath commandment is a picture - it is meant to convey a message. When you look at the painting of Van Gogh’s Starry Night - you should look at the entire picture. Art critics say that it conveys a message. That’s what it was painted for. You’re not only focusing on the dark clouds, or the outline of the cathedral, or the bright window, or that bright star. You’re looking at the whole picture. And it’s meant to convey emotion - Van Gogh struggled with depression - but in his depression, there was light. So there’s a message. Or if you sing a psalm, it’s not just one stanza that you focus on, it’s the whole message of the psalm. Not just the triumph of the wicked but their destruction in Psalm 73.

Similarly, when God gave the Sabbath commandment, it was only one part of the picture. Another part of the picture was the Promised Land - the land of rest. Which points to God recreating the world. These convey the message of heaven - the land and the day of eternal rest. God worked for 6 days and rested the 7th day. Israel wandered for 40 years but entered the land of promise. We are pilgrims here, but will one day enter heaven. In Hebrews 4, the author warned God's people that they could not enter heaven because of unbelief - if they did not accompany their listening of the gospel with faith. He quoted the Israelites. Why did they have to wander for 40 years? Because God was angry they didn’t believe and said they could not enter the land of rest - even though he promised rest to them by his example at creation by resting. But even though Joshua eventually led them into the Promised Land, God also spoke about another rest. So the rest they had was not the final rest. The rest of the Sabbath day was also not the final rest. There is another rest - the eternal Sabbath Day, the better Promised Land - heaven.

This is why when we worship God on the Lord’s Day, we look forward to the time of Christ’s re-creating the world. When he will bring heaven to earth. When we shall have no more tears or sorrow. When God first created the earth, he put man into a garden flowing with rivers and fruit. When God redeemed Israel, he put them into a land flowing with milk and honey. When God redeems his church, he will finally put them into a land flowing with grace, where the rivers and trees of God flow with water and fruit.

So isn’t it such a terrible waste, when we talk about the Lord’s Day, and focus on what we cannot do? We don’t look at the glory of heaven and the joys of heaven. Just what we cannot do. But mind you, that’s not unimportant. The catechism speaks about how we must rest from evil works - but that we might in this life begin the eternal Sabbath - to enjoy the blessings of grace that will be richly poured out one day. But what do we mostly focus on - not on what we can do to feed our souls to prepare us for eternity; we focus on the dark cloud of cannot do this; or that silhouette of the dark building of cannot do that. Not the lights - when the eternal land of rest will be bathed in light and have no shadows.

And this is why we must also remember Christ our redeemer. He is the one who brings us to that eternal sabbath. Exodus 20:9 says - “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.” There were 6 days that were given to focus on the world, the body, and their life on earth. Verses 10-11 tell us that one day was God’s special Sabbath. They were not to do any work - no one in their family or their employ. Why? Because God blessed that day and made it holy. It was a day that was meant for the soul. This was the day, after working hard on other days, the Jews would come to the temple to offer their sacrifices. So while they did worship God, pray and praise him in their families - the Sabbath day was the day they would offer their sacrifices at the temple. They acknowledged that life was more than food and clothes - more than work - our lives have a spiritual component. And the people were concerned for the state of their souls. This is why they came to worship God because he was the only one who could forgive them and save them. And likewise, it is the same for us. We do not need to come with a sacrifice anymore, because Christ has already offered himself as our sacrifice, to redeem us. This is why we worship him and praise him as our redeemer.

Listen to what the church in heaven - in their eternal Sabbath - is currently singing. Revelation 5:11-12 - “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Why do we keep the Lord’s Day? To remember Christ our redeemer and what he has done for us. We remember the gospel. 

This is why Lord’s Day 38 says that the ministry of the gospel be maintained - that we diligently attend church to hear the gospel - that we would use the sacraments like the Lord’s Supper to remind ourselves what Christ has done, that we would publicly praise God. Let us use that day to think upon Christ, to praise him, to hear his gospel, to fellowship with other Christians, and to speak the gospel to others. And this is why the schools of the gospel are to be maintained - the Covenant Instruction - or even the work of theological schools. It is a day where we feed our souls. The Puritans called the Sabbath the market day of the soul because they realized it was on that day that they nourished their souls, where they bought without money, things needful for our spiritual lives. Where we realize that life does not consist of only what is needful for their bodies. This is why we also give of our substance to take care of others and to support the work of the gospel. Our money is best used for those things. That’s what we demonstrate when we give. 

So while it is out of gratitude for our redemption, we also keep the Lord’s Day, to remember, fourthly, that Christ is our master. In verse 10, we are told that we are not to do any work, neither we, nor our children, nor our employees, nor our animals of burden. It’s a command. If you worked, you could earn more money. If your children worked - or in our case, studied - they might do better. But money and grades are not ultimately important, right? Right? Right or not? The mouth says, grudgingly - right - but the heart may not willingly agree. If you believe in your heart, you will confess with your mouth. But if your mouth does not even confess it, you don’t believe it. Money and grades are not ultimately important. That’s what the 4th commandments says. Because 6 days shall you labor - but the 7th day is the sabbath of the Lord. It belongs to the Lord. And the our master commands worship. And the reason for that commandment is not only for us to please him - but it is a law unto us to the nations around us. To show forth Christ’s rule to them in a very obvious way. 

During times of trade when they would come, the weekend would be the best time to do trade - but they would be locked out of the cities - like in Nehemiah’s day. During the times of harvest - they would skip an entire day of harvest - just to go for worship. How can you do that? The grain, left for the birds. The fruit, left to rot. But God is the great provider - he’s the creator. This world’s not my home - Christ’s the re-creator bringing us to heaven; by his redemption, showing us our souls are more important. And he is our master. He will care for us. Do you believe that? And this was a testimony to others. Our master takes care of us. We can leave it to him. We work hard for 6 days - but on the 7th, we trust in him. These nations would’ve mocked them. But they would’ve seen how God cared for them. Dearly beloved, do you believe you master can care for you? He is your creator. That’s why we give Christian offerings to the poor, not steal from them or from God. When your pagan bosses call on you, do you proclaim the name of Christ? Or while you worship here, do you make your pagan employees slave to earn filthy lucre for you? There’s much money to be earned - but think of your soul and the pleasure of your master.

And finally, remember Christ our forerunner. The Sabbath is not only a picture of heaven and the heavenly rest, but it’s a picture of real rest that we will have in heaven. It’s one thing to call it a rest - then it’s to remember what Jesus did. He went to heaven and he sat down at the right hand of God the Father. The work of redemption was done. In the temple - the priests were the ones who worked every day - there was no rest. So as Jesus said, they profaned the Sabbath because there was no rest for them. Yes, Aaron was not the only priest, he had his sons; and his descendants served by courses or rostered months. And in the temple, amidst all the temple furnishings, there was no chair. The priests never sat. But Jesus finished his work of redemption, and he sat down - the first High Priest in the history of Israel. 

And it is a reminder to us - while this is a command for us, the one who has fulfilled it perfectly was Christ. And even though we will often sin in remembering Christ, in delighting in the Sabbath, his presence in heaven is a guarantee that those of us who believe in him, even though we keep his laws imperfectly, will also go to be with him. As Jesus said, and “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” He has gone before us - he’s our forerunner. As Hebrews 4:10 says, “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” That is a gracious assurance to us that we will never perish but have rest after our tired lives.

Dearly beloved, what are the applications to us? I think firstly, focusing on what we must not do is not unimportant - but you don’t get the full picture. What is important is focusing on what we should do. To remember our creator and our sin, our future place in heaven, because of our redeemer Jesus Christ, whom we owe our obedience, but whose obedience has guaranteed us a place there - where he is, resting from the work of redemption.

Secondly, make a bold decision to be faithful. Is there fear that you won’t make it if you don’t work or study? Life is more than food and raiment. Your soul and its nourishment are important. Don’t just come to worship, but the day is a day of witness to others of the master you serve. Keep the worship services - morning and evening. Fellowship with the saints - meet one another, serve together. Encourage your children to make friends of others in the church - and we can only do that by spending time together.

Thirdly, remember that when you fail to keep the sabbath well, there is a sabbath keeper that has gone before us. To be assured of what he has done - and he has gone before us. So when are you going to remember him? He has given us the Lord’s day. And this is how the Lord will work in you through his Holy Spirit, and so experience in this life that eternal Sabbath. May the Lord give you a resolve in your heart to love Christ more.

Sermon Outline:

1. We remember Christ our creator

2. We remember Christ our re-creator

3. We remember Christ our redeemer

4. We remember Christ our master

5. We remember Christ our forerunner




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Mark Chen, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2021, Rev. Mark Chen

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