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Book Review: The Sabbath as Rest and Hope for the People of God by Guy Waters




I'd assume that most of the American-Evangelical church does not consider Sunday to be the Sabbath. In fact, I'd assume most Western-American Christians don't even have a category of Sabbath as a still functioning ordinance today. For whatever reason it may be, most christians in our day consider Sunday to be a "2nd Saturday" with the only substantive difference being that we go to church on Sunday morning. After church, however, the day would look almost indistinguishable from Saturday (except for the consumption of pro football, perhaps). 


As I have spoken to christians, and discipled congregants, I have found the concept of the Christian Sabbath to be difficult for many. They struggle to see how a day which is often spoken of in the Old Testament still has much relevance for them today. In fact, the idea that such a Sabbath not only exists, but is binding in a real way which calls for our obedience, is very foreign to most, and viewed as legalistic and pharisailcal. If the Christian Sabbath exists (and it does), then the church is in need of robust and persuasive resources to help disciple congregants in this important practice. 


Enter Guy Waters with this incredibly helpful resource. The Sabbath as Rest and Hope for the People of God is a small book, at only 160 pages. But in its brevity, it covers a massive scope. Waters walks believers through the entirety of the Scriptures, showing how the Sabbath was instituted by God for His glory, and man's good, and how it has operated throughout redemptive history. He convincingly shows that the Sabbath is very much still in effect today, as is the rest of the moral law. Thus, Christians today are to see themselves as standing a long line of God's people who have been called to "Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy". 


Having shown the Biblical development, Waters concludes with a chapter on how we do this. Often, those who are considering the Christian Sabbath, or perhaps have recently become convinced of it, immediately delve into debates on "what is, or isn't, allowed" on Sunday. While a discussion around practicalities can be helpful, often, it takes our focus off of the main intention of the Sabbath. Waters helpfully directs readers to see that our focus on the worship of God and resting in Him, is to take up the day of rest. If we focus on these relaities, Waters argues, it will end up settling most of our practical questions. Far from a call to legalistic stinginess, Waters opens up a way of viewing the Sabbath which is freeing, and for our ultimate good. 


I would highly recommend this volume, and will be quick to hand it out as a resource for my congregants. It is short, theologically robust, and biblically persuasive.