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Friday, October 2, 2015

#48 The Sabbath is a Picture of Heaven - Part 1

Revelation 19:5-9 - And a voice came from the throne, saying, “Give praise to our God, all you His bond-servants, you who fear Him, the small and the great.”6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

As we begin to draw our meditations to a close, it seems important to stress one aspect about the Lord's Day that should be another means by which we can test our hearts and our desires after God. This is our longing for glory, for heaven​ - for the kind of worship that is described in our passage​ above.  We saw last time that we may say we love God but not actually want to be with Him on His Day.  By the same token, all believers would presumably say they want to be with the Lord in heaven, and yet their conduct on the Lord's Day may call this claim into question.  How is this the case? Quite simply because at no time during their lives on earth are believers closer to heaven than on the Lord's Day, and especially during the services of worship as a congregation. So if we have no great desire and excitement to go to church on the Lord's Day and to be with His people in His presence, it is questionable whether we really desire to be with the Lord in heaven.

For God's people under the Old Covenant, one purpose of the Sabbath was to be a weekly picture for them of the rest that God would bring them into when they crossed Jordan to take possession of the land.  It is clear, though, that for believers under both Covenants it was also intended to be a picture of the rest that God has prepared in heaven eternally for those who love Him and trust Jesus alone to be their Savior.  This is the argument that the writer to the Hebrews advances in chapter four of his letter (Hebrews 4).

In addition, our activity in congregational worship, and the reality of what is taking place spiritually correspond very closely to the activities and realities of what will take a good portion of our time in heaven:

  • God will be with us as His beloved children and we will bask in His wonderful and glorious presence
  • We will gather before Him to offer a sacrifice of endless praise as His Royal Priesthood
  • We will partake in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb

Each of these aspects of our eternal activity in heaven finds its counterpart in the worship of the local congregation.

So let's take a look at our hearts. If we would rather be somewhere else than with our brothers and sisters in worship on Sunday, what does that say about our condition before the Lord?  If we feel that coming to church once on a Sunday when there is more than one service to attend is "doing our bit" and is sufficient for us on the Lord's Day, where is our appetite for spiritual things and specifically for heaven? If we come to all the meetings that are held but we attend with a grudging spirit, because we feel we have to, is that the spirit with which we will also enter the heaven of which our worship on earth is a picture? Where is our eagerness? Where is our excitement?

Often we are dulled spiritually because the world and its attractions have dazzled our vision, and the sin we allow to continue unchecked in our lives has quenched and grieved the Spirit so that we have little appetite for the things of God.  How can we regain a right desire for Him? Through using the means He has supplied - prayer, His Word, Fellowship, the Lord's Supper and suchlike.  So staying away from our church on the Lord's Day denies us the very means we need to renew our love for God and desire to be with Him!

Over the next few weeks, we will look at each of these ways in which our worship on earth is a foretaste of the worship of God in heaven, and we will present these as incentives and challenges to us to return to our first love of the Lord and our desire to be with Him and His people on His holy Day.