“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”- Hebrews 10:24–25
Worship is the primary focus of the Heidelberg Catechism’s exposition of the fourth commandment in question and answer 104. There is good reason for this, as the people of God have long associated Sabbath-keeping with worshipping our Creator. Yesterday, we saw how worship is implicitly commanded in the fourth commandment itself because of the call to remember the Lord’s great acts of salvation on the Sabbath day (Deut. 5:12–15). But there are other indications in Scripture that worship and the Sabbath go hand in hand. Leviticus 23:3, for instance, calls for a holy convocation, a gathering of worshippers, to take place on the Sabbath day. Luke 4:16–30 tells us that it was Jesus’ custom to attend synagogue services on the Sabbath. There He heard the Word of God and even provided teaching.
Consequently, the Heidelberg Catechism is certainly correct to focus on the gospel ministry and Christian instruction on the Lord’s Day. The catechism says such things are to be done “especially” on the Lord’s Day, implying that we should regularly study Scripture in our homes and fellowship with other believers often. Still, there is something unique about the gathering of God’s people on the Lord’s Day. It is designed for our good and should not be neglected. In fact, today’s passage exhorts us to gather together to encourage one another in the faith (Heb. 10:24–25). Given that the letter to the Hebrews is all about perseverance, we can be assured that the author viewed gathering together with other Christians to be essential to our remaining in faith until the end of our lives. Our love for Christ will grow cold if we do not participate regularly in God-honoring corporate worship.
Rest from our ordinary labor is also part of the Sabbath (Deut. 5:12–15), as is rest from sin, as the catechism tells us. Of course, it is not that we are allowed to sin six days a week but must abstain from it only one day in seven. We are called to put sin to death all the days of our lives (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5). Nevertheless, the Lord’s Day gives us a unique opportunity to renew our focus on our need for forgiveness and the work of sanctification. After all, if we are remembering God’s great act of salvation in Christ on the Lord’s Day, we are remembering that we have been buried with Him in our baptism that we might walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).
“There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). In our glorification, we will finally and fully rest from our sin and the weariness of laboring in a creation that is suffering the effects of the Lord’s curse. Resting on the Lord’s Day is an anticipation of that glorious reality and a means by which we can live in the present that life we will enjoy fully in the future. Let us rest on the Lord’s Day in hopes of the great rest to come.
Passages for Further Study