The Church has historically understood the centrality of the Lord’s Day, Sunday, and the importance of setting it apart for public worship. Christians have most chiefly perceived such acts as the means of honoring the fourth commandment, which demands that Christian honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy. But why ought we to sanctify the Lord’s Day? Why is it different? Christians have the unique privilege and joy of seeing a window into heaven’s worship every time they gather in public worship.
The book of Revelation has often been the subject of rigorous examination or rigorous abandonment; there is no middle ground it seems. However, as our church is preaching through the book of Revelation in our evening worship service, we have now entered into the heavenly chorus which proclaims the excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ at the consummation of His Kingdom. John writes, “Worthy are you to take the scroll to open its seals, for you were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,” (Rev. 5:9 ESV). This heavenly song was a new song highlighting that which had never before, namely that God the Son had become man, and was slain as a substitute for the Church, and had conquered Death in His resurrection.
New Testament scholar G.K. Beale writes, “A ‘new song’ is always an expression of praise for God’s victory over the enemy, sometimes including thanksgiving for God’s work of creation.” The new song of heaven sings particularly of Christ’s work as the Lamb of God. But what does that mean? One could certainly highlight the Suffering Servant imagery from Isaiah 53, but we do well to consider most basically the symbolism of Revelation 5 in portraying Christ as the Passover Lamb.
The Passover Lamb was instituted in the book of Exodus by God Himself. God did not kill the firstborn of His people as He did with the Egyptians. Although both groups were worthy of death, for they both inherited the sin of Adam (cf. Rom. 5:12-21; Eph. 2:1-3), and both exhibited faithlessness in various ways, the Egyptians remained condemned by their sin. Israel, however, received mercy for no reason other than God’s purposes of unconditional election (cf. Romans 9). Israel, by God’s grace, was the primary recipients of the spotless lamb whose blood covered the lintels of their homes, and even gave its life to feed them. In other words, the lamb’s blood was shed so that others could live.
As the Apostle Paul will later unveil, the Passover Lamb pointed forward to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle writes, “…Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed…” (1 Cor. 5:7 ESV) Later, in speaking of the efficacy of the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist, Paul writes, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor. 10:16 ESV). As the blood of the Passover Lamb covered the house, so the blood of Christ has been applied to our hearts in our baptism, as we receive those promises by faith. And of course, as the lamb was feasted upon, so we feast upon the body and blood of Christ by faith as He said, “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:55-56 ESV)
With this in mind we return to our initial question: Why do we sing every Lord’s Day? Why do we gather morning and evening on Sunday? We gather and sing, not only because Christ provided a good example, or merely because Christ has died, but we gather as Christ’s body on earth every Sabbath because we testify in whole-hearted assurance saying, “Jesus Christ died for me. He is raised for me. His ascension, glorification, session, and all of these benefits are made mine by the work of the Holy Spirit.” This is the most fundamental creed of the Christian’s heart. How could we not sing at such news? How could we remain ungrateful puttering about in silence? This Sunday, we will assemble on the Christian Sabbath, to praise our King for His work of our salvation. Sing boldly O Christian! For when you do, you silence the Devil and conquer his works by your joy in Christ.
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