The Day of Sacred Rest
Isaiah 58:13, 14
If you turn away your foot from the sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight…

The institution of the weekly sabbath is certainly one of the "water-marks" of revelation. It is not possible to conceive of anything more wise and beneficent than this provision for our bodily and spiritual well-being. Who can calculate the material or the moral benefit which it has conferred on the human race? Who can estimate the blessing it will have proved to humanity when time has run its course? Whether we regard it in the lower or in the higher aspect of the question, its value is simply inestimable. We may look at -

I. THE GROUND OF ITS OBSERVANCE. The Jews had special reasons for honouring the day. Its observance was part of their statute law (Exodus 20:8-11). But all mankind have reason enough for giving it a conspicuous place in their custom and their commandment.

1. It has its commencement at the very dawn of human history (Genesis 2:2, 3).

2. It was inculcated in the most solemn form, and enforced by the weightiest sanctions on the Hebrew people; and although it is not, on that account, binding on us as a Divine enactment, yet the fact that it was made of so much consequence in the judgment of the Divine Legislator, and had so large a part in the training of the healthiest and purest people the world has ever known, is a very strong argument in favour of its perpetuity: we may surely elect to continue that which we are not formally bound to adopt. We find a powerful reason for so doing in the text anal in similar passages, where we have the significant fact that:

3. It finds a prominent place in prophetic utterance. Inasmuch as the prophets were the strong and even vehement opponents of ceremonialism, and (as in the previous verses of this chapter) made everything of the moral and the spiritual, their testimony concerning the sabbath day has peculiar value. It points to a Divine intention that it should not pass away with the local, the rudimentary, the temporary, but hold its ground with the abiding and the permanent.

4. It was stated by our Lord to have been "made for man" (Mark 2:27).

5. In the new form of the "Lord's day," commemorating the crowning work not of creation but of redemption, it was honoured by the apostles of our Lord. We may, therefore, conclude, in the exercise of our reason, that it is the will of Christ that we should observe one day in seven as a day of sacred rest.


1. The spirit of self-renunciation. The Hebrew saint was to "turn away his foot from the sabbath, from doing his pleasure on God's holy day;" i.e. he was to lay aside his customary labours, and to refrain from ordinary amusements on a day on which God asked for contemplation and worship. As Christians, we come to the conclusion that it is the will of our Saviour that we should give to him our homage, our docility, our sacred zeal; we therefore gladly forego the common engagements and enjoyments of our life, "not doing our own ways," in order that we may do his will and gain his good pleasure.

2. The spirit of devotion. The corollary of the cheerful renouncement of our own business is the adoption of God's worship and service as the appropriate engagement of the day. Quitting our home and shunning the mart and the place of amusement, whither should we go but to the house of the Lord, to the field of sacred usefulness? And how can we better spend our time or occupy our powers than in the manly, the lofty, the elevating engagements of devotion and sacred service? Then do we reach our highest mark, and most nearly attain the true standard of our manhood, the richest heritage of our race. Then do we "delight ourselves in the Lord;" then is God what he was to Abraham, and what he will be to us all when we receive the fulness of our inheritance - our "exceeding great Reward."

3. The spirit of sacred joy. We shall "call the sabbath a delight," shall find it so, and shall do our best to make it so - to the children, to the employed, to the lonely and the confined, who can be visited and cheered in the quiet home, in the sick-chamber.


1. In immediate spiritual enjoyment; in the gladness of heart with which the worship of God is anticipated (Psalm 122:1); in the joy of holy fellowship and sacred song; in the happiness of domestic piety.

2. In the continuous spiritual blessedness to which it leads; for a true use of Christian privileges ends in the reconciliation of the soul to God, and in the possession of his abiding favour, in the lifelong friendship of Jesus Christ; there is daily, continual "delight in the Lord."

3. In the realization of the kindest promises of God. To Israel was offered the excellency of "riding on the high places of the earth," and being "fed with the heritage of Jacob." To us, if we truly seek God's face until we find his favour, is offered

(1) the guidance of an unerring finger and the protection of an almighty arm along all the path of life, whether along higher or lower levels;

(2) the exercise of a benign and gracious influence on human hearts - an influence which will live when we are gone;

(3) entrance into the heavenly kingdom. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

WEB: "If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, [and] the holy of Yahweh honorable; and shall honor it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking [your own] words:

The Claims of the Sabbath
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