STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn.
Q. 62. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment?
A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment are, God’s allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES: Exodus 31:15-16; Leviticus 23:3; Exodus 31:17; Genesis 2:3.
1. How many reasons are there annexed to this commandment?
There are four reasons annexed to this commandment and this is more than for any of the other commandments. God knew men would be prone to break this commandment.
2. What is the first reason?
The first reason is, God’s allowing us six days for our own employment. God has been very liberal with us in this area and we should certainly grant Him one day out of the seven. In addition, in modern times very few people work on Saturday afternoon, which is another reason for giving Him one day.
3. What is the second reason?
The second reason is, God’s challenging a special propriety in the seventh day. This is God’s claiming the day as His own. He does not claim it as His own without granting us anything from it, for as we use it in the right way He will grant us the greatest joy in communion with Him.
4. What is the third reason?
The third reason is, God’s own example in resting Himself from His works of creation on the seventh day. Here there is a spiritual blessing from resting one day by His command. In addition, there is a physical motivation in that He knew it would be good for our bodies for us to rest one day. His example should be followed, all to His glory.
5. What is the fourth reason?
The fourth reason is, God’s blessing of the Sabbath. Our Lord consecrates the day to His holy use. The right use of the day will result in blessings for us, “showers of blessings” will fall upon us. The wrong use of the day will result in miseries and woes. (Nehemiah 13:18).
MAN’S NEED OF THE SABBATH
It is hard for us today, in the midst of the blatant desecration of the Sabbath, to hold to the authority of God and the commands we find in the Decalogue. On every hand we find that the opposition is strong. The day starts with the weighty Sunday newspaper. Sporting events are the order of the day. The armed services have decided that the Lord’s Day is a day of training. Wherever we turn we are faced with the pressures of the world to deny what many of us have been told from childhood, that the holy calm of a Sabbath morn should be kept throughout the day.
Certainly as believers in Christ, we know what we should do. The commands in the Scripture are plain. Six questions in our Shorter Catechism are given to this important question of Christian living. But when we attempt to meet our adversaries with these arguments it means nothing to them. They care not for Holy Writ and win not listen. But there are arguments that they might listen to, and these same arguments would be good for us to take into our hearts and ponder them, all to the glory of God. Mark 2:27 indeed teaches us: “The Sabbath was made for man.” Our Lord knew that we need this Day.
We need it because of our physical nature. He made us in such a way that we need to rest one day out of the seven. It is interesting to note that the Deists in France long ago, those who had left Roman Catholicism but had not become Protestants, admitted that they could not get along without the Sabbath. Their bodies craved it.
We need it as a day when the family can be together. God put a great emphasis on the family, and the Scripture is filled with admonitions that should be followed by the family. When are they going to be followed? Could not the Sabbath be used in this important area? Prayer, teaching of the Word, communication—these are all important in the family unit.
We need it for the teaching we can obtain from the House of God. The preaching of the Word is the primary means of Grace, and we should use every opportunity we have to fill our minds with those things that will keep us from sinning against Him. He knew that a day must be set aside for instruction in righteousness, and we must make use of it.
Let us be faithful to Him, and to ourselves in this matter. Let us once again return to the “old fashioned” Sabbath before it is too late. We are in danger of losing what we have in our freedom of worship unless we have some convictions about it.
Published By: The Shield and Sword, Inc.
Dedicated to instruction in the Westminster Standards for use as a bulletin insert or other methods of distribution in Presbyterian churches.
Vol. 4 No. 57, September, 1965.