Ceasing and Feasting
by Bill Pence
Published on May 13, 2024
Categories: Spiritual Growth

Ceasing and Feasting

Over the past year, I’ve been considering how I treat the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day. In our culture, for many people, Sunday has become just like any other day. Most stores are open, with notable exceptions such as Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby. Busy workers use Sunday as a day to catch up on work that has built up during the week, and some enjoy watching NFL football all day on Sunday. I have to ask myself if other than attending worship service and our church small group, am I treating Sunday as just another day?

In his excellent teaching series The Lord’s Day, which I listened to last year for the first time when I began contemplating the above question, and would commend to you, Robert Godfrey discusses the biblical connection between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day. There is a debate among Bible scholars as to whether the Sabbath was instituted as a creation ordinance, which was the view of the Puritans and many Continental believers, while others hold that it was not instituted until the time of Moses.

We are first introduced to a day of rest during the creation account in Genesis:

Thus, the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3

Then, in Exodus 20, God gives his people the Ten Commandments through Moses. One of those commandments was:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20: 8-11

Recently, in our NXTGEN Pastors Cohort – where we cover soft-skills topics that pastoral candidates would not normally be exposed to in seminary – we covered some information about how keeping the Sabbath is a core spiritual discipline from the book The Emotionally Healthy Leader by Peter Scazzero. He writes that the biblical Sabbath is a twenty-four-hour block of time in which we stop work, enjoy rest, practice delight, and contemplate God. Jordan Raynor, in his book Redeeming Your Time, writes that the Sabbath is a day for ceasing and feasting.

In Truths We Confess, his exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, R.C. Sproul writes that the church, through the ages, has followed Jesus’ teaching by permitting works of mercy and works of necessity on the Sabbath. He also tells us that since the primary focus of the Sabbath day originally was to provide rest for people, we should also use the day to enjoy fellowship and to rest.

Sproul tells us that both the Continental believers and the Puritans believed that the seventh day was to be observed, but they differed as to how it was to be observed. The Puritans believed that the Sabbath day was to be taken up in worship, in the study of the things of God, and in doing errands of mercy. It was not to include recreational activities. The Continentals believed that there was still an opportunity for restful recreation. Although the Westminster Confession of Faith adopted the view of the Puritans, both views are tolerated within the Reformed community.

Given all this, the question becomes how are we as Christians to spend the Lord’s Day? What is permitted, or not permitted? For example, I remember a friend who would not eat in a restaurant on Sundays because that would require people to have to work on Sundays.

I recently posed this question to the group of men I have breakfast with each week as I respect their counsel. We had a lot of good conversation, and what I came away with was not so much specific rules on what you can or cannot do on Sunday, but rather it is to be intentionally set apart for God and His work.

A few ways that I am starting to be intentional about keeping the Sabbath are to fast from social media and email, as well as work such as laundry on Sunday.

Is keeping the Sabbath a new idea to you, or do you already observe the Sabbath? If it is the latter, what does your observance look like?

Bill Pence is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at his local church. His life-long passion is to help people develop and use their strengths to their fullest potential. Bill is married to his best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary. Both have written a book. Bill’s book is, Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the workplace. Tammy’s book is,  Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon. To discover more about Bill please visit his website.

 

1 Comment

  1. Robert Arthur Marzullo

    The answer is YES!

    Reply

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