A rare Sunday posting for the outhouse (and unfortunately, a rare RubeRad post!)…
I’ve been using my SoCal commute to memorize the Shorter Catechism lately, and I was encouraged recently by the affirmation in SC 59 that the first day of every week is merely a shadow and a promise, while the real Christian Sabbath rest is only to be found in the consummation:
…and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian sabbath.
In that grammar, what could possibly be the referent of that “which,” other than “the end of the world”? Then, I discovered in yesterday’s Daily Confession of WCF 21.7 (the obvious source of SC 59), a completely different sentence structure:
…the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
In the WCF formulation, the grammar more clearly identifies “Christian Sabbath” with “first day of the week.” As a tie-breaking witness, the Larger Catechism:
…the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath, and in the New Testament called The Lord’s day.
is not much help, being worded more like the Shorter, but with an extra semi-colon which that “which” might be able to use to leapfrog over the intermediate phrase to refer to “first day” (but I have no idea how certain we are of authentic punctuation!)
Probably the clearest indication that the Divines were not intending the deeper meaning I got out of SC 59, is that among the scripture proofs, there is not a single reference to Heb 4.
Nevertheless, I really like Kline’s analysis of the Sabbath,* with his emphasis on Sabbath as an almost sacramental promise of eschatalogical rest to God’s covenant people alone — a promise which we have no right to extend to (nor impose on!) the non-Christian, for any non-Christian participation in the Covenant Renewal Ceremony would be a blasphemous claiming of a promise of rest which is not theirs. And for Christians to encourage or condone non-Christian pseudo-Sabbath-keeping, is to offer them false assurance of the benefits of the promise which was given only to us. In this framework, non-Christians should be disabused of the concept that they could or should recognize a weekly day of divine rest, just as non-Christians should be barred from Baptism and Communion.
*I wish I could tell you the specific lecture(s) in which he addressed the Sabbath — if I ever listen to them again, I will certainly jot down a succinct index**, if only for my own benefit! What I can say for sure is, if you want to listen to the lectures, don’t be discouraged by the abysmal sound quality of the very beginning. It takes about 4 minutes, but then somebody adjusts the microphone or something, and the sound jumps from completely incomprehensible, to what you would expect of a cassette-to-mp3 transfer.
**[Update] I have listened to them again, and here’s the index!