Rest for the soul

by | Sep 17, 2021 | Friday Messages, Uncategorized

Greetings, and Happy Sabbath to all—

My wife and I look forward to these Friday afternoon Sabbath writings.  She will often call to me if I’m working in my office on a Friday afternoon, “Is there a Sabbath email?”  So thanks to all who share edifying thoughts and insights.

My parents were devout Sabbath keepers.  It came from both of their parents’ involvement at the Shiloh community in its heyday, where there was excitement over the promises of God for the future.  Hebrews 6:5 speaks of those who “tasted of both the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come.” Uniquely, my parents, and others of their generation, in good part through their Sabbath keeping practices, were able to maintain, experience, and pass on to some extent the euphoria of catching a gleam of the bright future God has planned for planet Earth.

As a young man, my grandfather, J.B. Harriman captured the mood and atmosphere of the Sabbath in a hymn that he authored called “Sabbath Eve.” Its second verse runs like this:

Oh, glad Restoration! foretelling the age

When all flesh their Redeemer shall own;

When the saints of the past, now made perfect, engage

In devotion around the white throne:

What promise this sweet Sabbath eve doth afford

Of the grand consummation at hand,

When the kingdoms of earth shall acknowledge their Lord,

As He reigns in Immanuel’s Land!

The music for the hymn, composed by his like-minded comrade, F.M. Wakeman, does wonderful justice to the sentiments expressed.

With this background, it was something for me to process, when I came to understand that few earnest and Bible believing people had any appreciation for such things. And also, to know that memories and practices of contemporaries who had similar experiences to mine had faded over time, and became unreal and were abandoned.  In their defense, perhaps with a perceived fuller sense of the Gospel, “The Sabbath rest for the people of God” is what has gripped their understanding.  That may have made weekly Sabbath observance seem legalistic and out of tune with Gospel. The idea of the rest for the soul that Jesus gives as we believe on Him seems to trump the idea of careful weekly Sabbath keeping.

Be that as it may, truly it is a blessing to think of and meditate on the truths and realities communicated to us by God’s Word that result in peace, rest, assurance, and a sense of wellbeing as we trust in Him.  We live in tumultuous and uncertain times, but learning to “still and quiet our souls” (Psalm 131) seems to me like a mark of those who know their God.

And what richness God has given us to consider!  Much of it has to do with confidence in regard to our personal standing with God. Think about Scriptures like these:

By grace you are saved (Ephesians 2:8)

There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)

Being persuaded that nothing can separate us from the Love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39).

But there is also the assurance of God’s goodness, power, omnipotence, sovereignty, and management of history.  And the Sabbath directs our attention that way. There are wonderful promises in the Bible in regard to His plans and purposes being carried out with a grand finale to earth’s story. A cursory glance at history doesn’t capture the angst, pain, and trauma that seems to have been a norm for much of it.  But we look forward to that glorious day when “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15)  “Amen, Come Lord Jesus!!”

May we have comforting and restful meditations this Sabbath.

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