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2017 ARBCA General Assembly

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 24, 2017 at 11:23 am

The 2017 General Assembly will be hosted by Trinity Reformed Baptist Church of Jackson, Georgia, and will convene at Epworth by the Sea Christian Conference Center on St. Simons Island, Georgia on April 25th through 27th.


Registration involves two steps:

  1. Each attendee must register with Epworth through their registration website (Epworth By The Sea Registration). This makes you responsible to secure your room and board through the conference center.  The rates are listed on the registration website.  All attendees will need to register with Epworth by the Sea prior to March 23, 2017 for these rates and in order for us to prepare conference notebooks and make final arrangements with Epworth.
  2. Additionally, send your registration fee ($35 per pastor and their wife $15) to Trinity Reformed Baptist Church 543 Colwell Rd. Jackson, GA 30233. Please note on paper; the purpose of your check, the names of those covered by the registration check and the church affiliation


Tuesday, April 25 – Associational Business

8:30 AM Devotional – Isaiah 52:13-53:3
8:50 AM Prayer
9:20 AM Announcements
9:30 AM Election of GA Officers
9:35 AM Roll Call of the churches and seating of the delegates
9:55 AM Recognition of Guests
10:05 AM Membership Committee Report: Introduction of new member churches
10:30 AM Break
11:00 AM Annual Meeting (& Ladies Tea) – Coordinator Report & Committee Reports
12:00 PM Lunch
1:15 PM Associational Matters
5:45 PM Supper
7:00 PM Session 1 – The Resurrection of Christ – Pastor Steve Garrick

Wednesday, April 26 – Theological Lessons/Discussions

8:30 AM Devotional – Isaiah 53:4-9
8:50 AM Prayer
9:00 AM  Associationalism #1 – Pastor Fred Pugh
10:15 AM Break
10:45 AM Associationalism #2 – Pastor Fred Pugh
12:00 PM Lunch – Reception for New Member Churches
1:15 PM Additional Associational Matters and Chaplain Report – Joshua Stoley
5:45 PM Supper
7:00 PM Session 2 – The Ascension of Christ – Pastor Steve Marquedant

Thursday, April 27 – Member Churches Business

8:30 AM Devotional – Isaiah 53:10-12
8:50 AM Prayer
9:05 AM Announcements
9:10 AM Associationalism #3 – Pastor Fred Pugh & Discussion
10:15 AM Break
10:45 AM Theological Discussion – Theology Committee
12:00 PM Lunch
1:15 PM Special Projects; Missions Report – Matthew Brennan
5:45 PM Supper
7:00 PM Session 3 – The Session of Christ – Pastor Fred Malone
9:00 PM Adjournment of the 2017 ARBCA General Assembly

For more information

The Importance of Believer’s Baptism

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

John Owen on divine rests in Hebrews 3:7-4:11

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on September 22, 2016 at 12:52 pm


John Owen on divine rests in Hebrews 3:7-4:11

from Getting the Garden Wrong: A critique of New Covenant Theology on the Covenant of Works and the Sabbath, by Richard C. Barcellos,

forthcoming from Founders Press

In Hebrew 3:7-4:11 divine rests are presented by the author to induce perseverance in the readers’ profession of faith in Christ. Owen identifies three divine rests in the passage. These rests are all founded upon a great work of God, are identified as divine rests, are the grounds upon which man is invited into God’s rest, and include a sign or emblem of that rest via a day of rest. The first divine rest pertains to creation and man under the law of nature. The second rest pertains to the people of God under the law of institutions. The third rest pertains to the people of God under the Messiah.[1]

We will now identify the first two divine rests in the passage. What is important about Owen’s view of these divine rests is the way he describes them and the way he connects them to Hebrews 4:9-10. The connection to Hebrews 4:9-10 will be noted in the exposition of those verses under the next heading. The quotes below by Owen are quite extensive. I thought it best to quote at length so readers can get the gist of Owen’s view. After the quotes I will offer brief comments. I will also show that some of the insights made by Owen have been made by others. What are the first two divine rests in the context? First, in the words of Owen:

He considers the church and the state of it under the law of nature, before the entrance of sin. And herein he shows first that there was a rest of God in it; for saith he, “The works were finished from the foundation of the world. . . . . And God did rest the seventh day from all his works,” verses 3, 4. As the foundation of all, he layeth down first the works of God; for the church, and every peculiar state of the church, is founded in the work, some especial work of God, and not merely in a law or command. “The works,” saith he, “were finished from the foundation of the world.” . . . This work of God, as hath been proved, Exerc. iii., was the foundation of the church in the state of nature, and gave unto it the entire law of its obedience.

On this work, and the completing of it ensued the rest of God himself: Verse 4, “God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” This rest of God, and the refreshment he took in his works, as comprising the law and covenant of our obedience, have been explained already.

But this alone doth not confirm, nor indeed come near, the purpose or argument of the apostle: for he is to speak of such a rest of God as men might enter into, as was a foundation of rest unto them, or otherwise his discourse is not concerned in it; whereupon, by a citation of the words of Moses from Gen. ii. 2, he tells us that this rest of God was on the seventh day, which God accordingly blessed and sanctified to be a day of rest unto man. So that in this state of the church there were three things considerable:—(1.) The rest of God himself in his works, wherein the foundation of the church was laid; (2.) A rest proposed unto man to enter into with God, wherein lay the duty of the church; and (3.) A day of rest, the seventh day, as a remembrance of the one and a means and pledge of the other. And herewith we principally confirm our judgment on the Sabbath’s beginning with the world; for without this supposition the mentioning of God’s work and his rest no way belonged to the purpose of our apostle. For he discourseth only of such rests as men might enter into and have a pledge of; and there was no such thing from the foundation of the world, unless the Sabbath was then revealed. Nor is it absolutely the work and rest of God, but the obedience of men and their duty with respect unto them, which he considers; and this could not be, unless the rest of God was proposed unto men to enter into from the foundation of the world.[2]

The first divine rest came as a result of a divine work (i.e., creation). It included a rest proposed to man to be entered via obedience and it had added to it a weekly pledge, the seventh day. This rest reflects man under the covenant of works, which has been discussed in previous chapters of this book.

The second rest in Hebrews 4 is described by Owen as follows:

The apostle considers the church under the law of institutions; and herein he presenteth the rest of the land of Canaan, wherein also the three distinct rests before mentioned do occur:—(1.) There was in it a rest of God. This gives denomination to the whole. He still calls it his rest: “If they shall enter into my rest.” And the prayer about it was, “Arise, O LORD, into thy rest, thou and the ark of thy strength,” or the pledge of his presence and power. And this rest also ensued upon his work; for God wrought about it works great and mighty, and only ceased from them when they were finished. And this work of his answered in its greatness unto the work of creation, whereunto it is compared by himself: Isa. li. 15, 16, “I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: The LORD of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundation of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.” The dividing of the sea, whose waves roared, is put by a synecdoche for the whole work of God in preparing a way for the church-state of that people in the land of Canaan. And this he compares to the work of creation, in planting the heavens, and laying the foundations of the earth; for although these words are but a metaphorical expression of the political and church state of that people, yet there is an evident allusion in them unto the original creation of all things. This was the work of God, upon the finishing whereof he entered into his rest, in the satisfaction and complacency that he had therein; for after the erection of his worship in the land of Canaan, he says of it, “This is my rest, and here will I dwell [Psalm 132:14].”

God being thus entered into his rest, in like manner as formerly two things ensue thereon:—(2.) That the people are invited and encouraged to enter into the rest of God. This the apostle treats concerning in this and the foregoing chapter. And this their entrance into rest, was their coming by faith and obedience into a participation of the worship of God wherein he rested, as a means and pledge of their everlasting rest in him. And although some of them came short hereof, by reason of their unbelief, yet others entered into it under the conduct of Joshua. (3.) Both these, his own rest and the rest of the people, God expressed by appointing a day of rest. This he did, that it might be a token, sign, and pledge, not now, as given to the people absolutely, of his first rest at the creation, but of his present rest in his instituted worship, and to be a means, in the solemn observation of that worship, to further their entrance into his rest eternally. Hence had the seventh day a peculiar institution among that people, whereby it was made to them a sign and token that he was their God, and that they were his people. And here lies the Judaical Sabbath in our fourth Exercitation.

It is true, this day was the same in order of the days with that before observed, namely, the seventh day of the week; but it was now re-established upon new considerations, and unto new ends and purposes. The time of the change of the day was not yet come; for this work was but preparatory for a greater. And the covenant whereunto the seventh day was originally annexed being not yet to be abolished, that day was not to be yet changed, nor another to be substituted in the room of it. Hence this day came now to fall under a double consideration,—first, As it was such a proportion of time as was requisite unto the worship of God, and appointed as a pledge of his rest in his covenant; secondly, As it received a new institution, with superadded ends and significations, as a token and pledge of God’s rest in the law of institutions, and the worship erected therein.[3]

Notice how Owen views the rest of Canaan grounded upon a divine work that is reflective of the original creation. He bases this on a text in Isaiah.

“For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name). 16 “I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” (Isa. 51:15-16)

Canaan is viewed as a new Eden. Israel is God’s corporate son, a new son of God (Exod. 4:22-23) with a new rest (Psalm 132:14) in the promised land. God’s people are now in a new place, with a new rest, based on a new divine creational work, along with a new divine rest.

Viewing Canaan as a recapitulation of Eden is not unique to Owen. For example, Oren R. Martin, while discussing the book of Exodus, says:

Furthermore, the multiplication of a people and movement towards inhabiting a place to live under God’s blessing is rooted in his original blessing on humanity. The promises to Israel to plant them in the land are reiterations of a former promise. This connection is forcefully illustrated in Exodus 15:17:

You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O LORD, which your hands have established.

At the end of the song sung by Israel after crossing the Red Sea, ‘the establishment of Israel in the land of Canaan is pictured as the planting of a tree in a mountain sanctuary, exactly the picture of Eden presented in Genesis 2 and Ezekiel 28.’[4] Through their redemption, then, Israel inherits the role of Adam in a new Eden-like land and are the means by which God will fulfill his worldwide purposes.[5]

In subsequent discussion, Martin says:

Through the miraculous act of the exodus (ch. 14), an event pregnant with creational overtones, God delivers his people through the chaotic waters of judgment and brings them out as a new creation, free from foreign rule.[6]

While discussing the book of Deuteronomy, Martin says:

. . . the land is described as a new paradise.[7] That is, the description of the land holds out promise of a return to an Eden-like bliss.[8]

. . . Deuteronomy contains numerous references to the creational mandate given to Adam.[9]

. . . recurring themes of ‘life’ and the ‘prolonging of days’ allude back to Eden and the life Adam enjoyed before the fall.[10]

. . . inheritance and rest become important aspects of the promise of land.[11]

Finally, Deuteronomy 12:9-11 pulls together the thematic threads of inheritance and rest. . . . That is, rest provides the opportunity for Israel to worship in the place God has chosen to dwell with his covenant people. On this note, Alexander rightly points out that it is impossible to consider the concept of rest without noting its association with the Sabbath. Despite differences in wording, the Decalogue in both Exodus and Deuteronomy associate these two concepts. Whereas Exodus 20:11 contains an explicit connection between the divine institution of the Sabbath and the seventh day of creation, Deuteronomy highlights God’s deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (e.g., Deut. 5:15). As a result, Alexander suggests that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and subsequent settlement in the Promised Land were viewed as in some manner paralleling God’s rest following the completion of his creative activity. This textual connection indicates that the rest offered in the land may be tied to the rest of God in creation prior to the fall.[12]

Martin’s insights correspond to Owen’s. In fact, many contemporary authors make connections between Eden and Canaan.[13] Israel is God’s son in a new Eden-like place, given a task, and a weekly Sabbath based on divine acts. Just as Adam, the protological and typological son of God, was placed in Eden, given a task, and had a weekly Sabbath day founded on the divine rest, so Israel, the redemptive-historical and typological son of God (Exod. 4:22-23) was placed in Canaan, given a task, and had a weekly Sabbath day founded on the creational rest of God (Exod. 20) and the redemptive work of God (Deut. 5). This implies that Israel ought to be viewed as a corporate Adam.[14]

Owen also views the rest of Canaan as a preparation for a greater work. Many others have seen the pattern of divine works preparing the people of God for greater works in the future. Francis Foulkes, for example, shows that the writers of the Old Testament viewed the past acts of God as the basis for future, greater acts of God ultimately pointing to Christ and his kingdom.[15] As Oren Martin says, “. . . God’s past dealings with his people serve as patterns, or types, for his future dealings with his people.”[16] Israel (as with Adam) functions as a type of something greater to come—the people of God under the inaugurated new covenant. Commenting on Hebrews 4:9, Schreiner says this of Israel:

Another typological connection should be made explicit. The writer refers here to “the people of God” . . . The rest given to Israel was a rest for a particular people in a specific location. But just as the rest points forward to a rest that embraces the whole creation, the new creation, the heavenly city, so Israel functions as a type for the new people of God, the church of Jesus Christ. The new people of God is not restricted to Israel but consists of Jewish and Gentile believers scattered throughout the world.[17]

Owen then draws this conclusion from these two divine rests:

So both these states of the church had these three things distinctly;—a rest of God in his works, for their foundation; a rest in obedience and worship, for man to enter into; and a day of rest, as a pledge and token of both the others.[18]

The common features of these rests are: 1) a divine rest after a divine work; 2) a rest to be entered in terms of man’s obedience and worship in light of the divine work/rest; and 3) a day of rest as a pledge and token of the divine rest and of man’s entrance into it. These rests function, in part, as foreshadowings of a better rest to come for the people of God.

Having mentioned the two previous divine rests, Hebrews 4:9 announces that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Does this relate to previous rests? If so, how? Is this rest related to a divine work? If previous rests had an eschatological element to them, does this one? And who is the someone who has entered his rest in 4:10? These and other questions (and their answers) will be pursued below.


[1] Owen, Works, 18:413-16. Owen’s discussion reflects a redemptive-historical reading of Scripture terminating upon Christ and his kingdom.

[2] Owen, Works, 18:413-14; emphasis original.

[3] Owen, Works, 18:414-15; emphasis original.

[4] Martin footnotes the citation of this quote as follows: “Gentry and Wellum 2012: 227; emphasis original.”

[5] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 78. The formatting of Exod. 15:17 is original. See Dempster, Dominion and dynasty, 102-03, where he discusses creational echoes in the book of Exodus.

[6] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 80. See Owen, Works, 18:414-15, quoted above.

[7] Martin lists the following texts in a footnote: Deut. 6:3; 11:9; 26:9, 15; 27:3; 31:20.

[8] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 83.

[9] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 84.

[10] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 84.

[11] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 85.

[12] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 85-86. Martin is referring to T. Desmond Alexander. Commenting on the book of Deuteronomy, Dempster says: “Divine presence and holy land echo the lost glory of Eden” (Dempster, Dominion and dynasty, 118).

[13] E.g., Alexander, Beale, Dempster, Dumbrell, Fesko, and Hamilton.

[14] See the discussion in Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission, 118-21.

[15] See Francis Foulkes, “The Acts of God: A Study of the Basis of Typology,” in The Right Doctrine from the Wrong Texts?, 342-71.

[16] Martin, Bound for the Promised Land, 25.

[17] Schreiner, Hebrews, 144.

[18] Owen, Works, 18:415.

Keach Conference 2016

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm


What?  The Keach Conference is an annual theology and ministry conference presented by the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia (RBF-VA).  It is open to anyone to attend.  There is no cost to attend, but participants are encouraged to pre-register.

When?  Saturday, October 1, 2016.

Where?  The 2016 Keach Conference will meet at the Providence Baptist Church 1441 Erickson Avenue, Harrisonburg, VA 22801

What is the 2016 theme?  We are continuing our ongoing series through the Second London Baptist Confession.  This year we are on Chapter Ten  “Of Effectual Calling.”

Who are the speakers? Lee McKinnon, Pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV; Andy Rice, Pastor of Providence Baptist Church, Harrisonburg, VA; Steve Clevenger, Pastor of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Warrenton, VA; Jeff Riddle, Pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church, Louisa, VA.

How do I register? Cost: FREE, Web: Register Now!

What is the schedule?  The schedule will be as follows:

Coffee and Fellowship, 8:30 am

October 1, Saturday Morning, 9:30 am (Session I):

  • Message: Effectual Calling and Regeneration (paragraph 1): Steve Clevenger
  • Message: Effectual Calling and Spiritual Ability (paragraph 2):  Lee McKinnon


Fellowship and Literature Tables

Saturday Afternoon, 12:30am (Session II):

  • Message: Effectual Calling and Elect Infants (paragraph 3):  Jeff Riddle
  • Message:  Effectual Calling and the Reprobate (paragraph 4):  Andy Rice

Question and Answer Session with the Speakers


Down with the Traditional Church!

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 21, 2016 at 6:21 pm


This new direction is, needless to say, carried on side by side with an attack on the traditional church. This attack has become incessant from the church marketers, as indeed it has also from emergents, and it is, on its face, quite curious.

It is true that some traditional churches are desultory, dispirited, boring, dull, lifeless, inept, small, disheartened, or otherwise dying. One does wonder, though, why such a dead dog keeps getting kicked, sometimes quite viciously, by the church marketers. “If you have found church to be as painful as a trip to the dentist and twice as boring …” begins a typical attack that is also a solicitation of interest in this new breed of church-doing. Another advertisement for a megachurch, with the traditional church in mind, says church “is about avoiding hell … not sitting through it every week.”

But if the traditional church is so inept, so out-of-it, so not-withit, so passé, so completely washed up, so painful, and so boring, why not let it die peacefully? Why keep on kicking it?

Because the real target is not the traditional church but the traditional theology it lives by. This belief system is at the heart of the traditional church’s life that seeker-sensitives are after. It is not that they want to deny it or reject it, but it is something of an embarrassment to them. At least in their own churches, they want to conceal it. They want it hidden, kept in the background, made to disappear from what they are doing. It is rather like a family secret. Family secrets are true, but they should be kept private. They should not be divulged.

(Wells, David. The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World.)

“My kingdom is not of this world.… Now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36)

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 15, 2016 at 11:15 am


We would do well to remember this in all our attempts to extend the kingdom of true religion. It is not to be propagated by violence, or by bodily strength. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world” (2 Corinthians 10:4). “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zechariah 4:6). The cause of truth does not need force to maintain it. False religions, like Islam, have often been spread by the sword. False Christianity, like that of the Roman church, has often been enforced on people by bloody persecutions. But the real Gospel of Christ requires no such aids as these. It stands by the power of the Holy Spirit. It grows by the hidden influence of the Holy Spirit on people’s hearts and consciences. There is no clearer sign of a bad cause in religion than a readiness to appeal to the sword. – J.C. Ryle

For so highly does the Lord esteem the communion of his Church

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 12, 2016 at 2:23 pm


We have stated that the marks by which the Church is to be distinguished, are, the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments. For these can no where exist without bringing forth fruit, and being prospered with the blessing of God. I assert not that wherever the word is preached, the good effects of it immediately appear; but that it is never received so as to obtain a permanent establishment, except in order that it may be efficacious. However this may be, where the word is heard with reverence, and the sacraments are not neglected, there we discover, while that is the case, an appearance of the Church, which is liable to no suspicion or uncertainty, of which no one can safely despise the authority, or reject the admonitions, or resist the counsels, or slight the censures, much less separate from it and break up its unity. For so highly does the Lord esteem the communion of his Church, that he considers every one as a traitor and apostate from religion, who perversely withdraws himself from any Christian society which preserves the true ministry of the word and sacraments. He commends the authority of the Church, in such a manner as to account every violation of it an infringement of his own. For it is not a trivial circumstance, that the Church is called “the house of God, the pillar and ground of truth.” For in these words Paul signifies that in order to keep the truth of God from being lost in the world, the Church is its faithful guardian; because it has been the will of God, by the ministry of the Church, to preserve the pure preaching of his word, and to manifest himself as our affectionate Father, while he nourishes us with spiritual food, and provides all things conducive to our salvation. Nor is it small praise, that the Church is chosen and separated by Christ to be his spouse, “not having spot or wrinkle,” to be “his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Hence it follows, that a departure from the Church is a renunciation of God and Christ. And such a criminal dissention is so much the more to be avoided; because while we endeavour, as far as lies in our power, to destroy the truth of God, we deserve to be crushed with the most powerful thunders of his wrath. Nor is it possible to imagine a more atrocious crime, than that sacrilegious perfidy, which violates the conjugal relation that the only begotten Son of God has condescended to form with us.

(Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion. Book IV, Chapter 1, Section 10)

God’s creational provision for the accounting of time in terms of days and years, including periodic festivals?

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 5, 2016 at 12:40 pm


Copyright © 2016 Richard C. Barcellos. All rights reserved.

In a previous chapter mention was made of the days of creation as paradigmatic for man’s week. In Genesis 1, a creational provision for the accounting of time on the earth was infused into the created realm. Genesis 1:14-19 says:

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. 17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. 19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. (Gen. 1:14-19)

Commenting on Genesis 1:14-19, Wenham says:

The creation of the sun, moon, and stars is described in much greater length than anything save the creation of man. The description is also quite repetitive. The fullness of the description suggests that the creation of the heavenly bodies held a special significance for the author . . .[1]

On day four, the Creator infused into the realm of creation the means by which day and night are to be separated (Gen. 1:14, 18) and governed (Gen. 1:16, 18). Psalm 136, evoking God’s acts at creation, indicates that the Creator “made the heavens with skill” (Psalm 136:5a), “spread out the earth above the waters” (Psalm 136:6a), “made the great lights” (Psalm 136:7a), made “[t]he sun to rule by day” (Psalm 136:8a) and “[t]he moon and stars to rule by night” (Psalm 136:9a). These provisions are coeval with creation. They are the divine means by which humans are to account for temporal divisions, “for days and years” (Gen. 1:14), for “day” and “night” (Gen. 1:16).

Of special interest is the clause in Genesis 1:14, “and let them be for signs and for seasons.” The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates this as “They will serve as signs for festivals.” The New International Version has “let them serve as signs to mark seasons.” The variety in translation is interesting to note. This indicates that the translators wrestled with the exact nuances indicated by the terms used. In a 2003 article in the Tyndale Bulletin, David J. Rudolph argues for the translation “festivals” or “festivals and seasons.”[2] He supports the plausibility of his translation on various factors: modern English and non-English translations,[3] lexicons and theological dictionaries,[4] commentaries,[5] and “recent studies on Israel’s calendar.”[6] The bulk of his article surveys usage distribution in the Torah. His focus is on the word moed, translated “seasons” (NASB and NIV) and “festivals” (HCSB) in Genesis 1:14. He sums up his survey of usage distribution as follows:

To sum up, out of 224 occurrences of [moed] in the Hebrew Bible, 197 are singular and twenty-seven are plural (including Gn. 1:14). Table 3 indicates that of the twenty-six plural forms subsequent to the creation account, twenty-two mean ‘festivals’. This demonstrates that the plural form of [moed] eighty-five percent of the time means ‘festivals’ in the Hebrew Bible. The figure rises to one hundred percent in the Torah, the literary background of Genesis 1:14. Moreover, when all the exact lexical forms of [moed] in Genesis 1:14 are extracted from Table 3 and evaluated, the ‘festivals’ rendering occurs one hundred percent of the time.[7]

Rudolph also notes the immediate literary context within which Genesis 1:14 occurs. It contains priestly language and “places strong emphasis on order and separation.”[8] The priestly language is seen in the fourth day’s provision of “lights.” “[A]ll other occurrences of [this term] in the Torah refer to lamps in the [tent of meeting] (Ex. 25:6; 27:20; 35:8, 14, 28; 39:37; Lv. 24:2; Nu. 4:9, 16).”[9] The term “lamp” is used “as a metonymy for sun and moon (Gn. 1:14, 15, 16 [3x]).”[10] Rudolph concludes: “. . . the writer of Genesis 1 uses this cultic imagery to depict the sun and moon as being like ‘sacred lamps in the sanctuary of the universe’.”[11]

The emphasis on order and separation is seen in various ways in Genesis 1.

God divides his creation into distinct spheres. Light is separated from darkness, day from night, waters above from waters below, earth from seas, plants from trees, birds from fish, cattle from wild animals, and male from female. The verb . . . (to separate) occurs five times in Genesis 1 (vv. 4, 6, 7, 14, 18). Notably, two out of the five references are to the fourth day of creation; one reference is in Genesis 1:14.

Viewed against the backdrop of havdil [i.e., separation] imagery, the string of plural nouns . . . in Genesis 1:14 may arguably be a division of two types of time: sacred time (signs and festivals) and ordinary time (days and years).[12]

Commenting on Genesis 1:14, Gordon J. Wenham says:

What is clear is the importance attached to the heavenly bodies’ role in determining the seasons, in particular in fixing the days of cultic celebration. This is their chief function.[13]

This function is creational, both prior to the fall into sin and Israel’s later calendar.

What does all of this have to do with our discussion? There is a creational provision for accounting both ordinary time and sacred time, for days and years, and for festivals in the midst of days and years. These were to occur on a regular basis, the sun and moon being signs which indicate the passing of one day to another. The seventh day should not be forgotten in this creational sequence and qualitative distinction of time. As Randolph says, “Analogous to such a qualitative time distinction is the relationship between the first six days of creation and the seventh day.”[14] Relying on Rudolph’s work, Beale says:

Since we have seen that the notion of “sanctify” elsewhere in the OT often is related to setting apart people, things, and certainly days as holy for cultic purposes, it is natural to see that God’s sanctifying of the seventh day in Gen. 2:3 is one of those festival days included in Gen. 1:14, which is part of the temporal divisions within which Gen. 1:14 says humans are to live.[15]

Since Genesis 1:14 establishes qualitative time distinctions, the seventh day is the first occurrence of such. It is a day qualitatively distinct from days one through six; on it God rested.

One more factor is important to consider. Rudolph asserted: “. . . the writer of Genesis 1 uses this cultic imagery to depict the sun and moon as being like ‘sacred lamps in the sanctuary of the universe’.”[16] If this is the case, and I think the evidence above supports this view, this comports with viewing the heavens and the earth as God’s cosmic temple. It also ties in with Adam’s identity and vocation. As God worked in creation unto consummation, so Adam was to do the same according to his creaturely capacity and calling. As Beale puts it:

. . . just as God subdued and ruled over the chaos at the inception of creation, so Adam was to subdue and rule over the earth [and] just as God created and filled the earth, so was Adam to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”[17]

Just as God entered into his rest from his creative work, so Adam was to do the same according to his creaturely capacity and vocation. Adam, by virtue of his obedience in accord with the covenant imposed upon him, was to work then enter God’s rest. Beale says:

Just as God had achieved heavenly rest after [creating] and constructing the beginning of his creational temple, so Adam presumably would achieve unending rest after . . . extending the boundaries of the glorious Eden temple around the entire earth.[18]

As Owen says, “for herein [i.e., the covenant of works] rest with God was proposed unto him as the end or reward of his own works . . .”[19] We could add this as well: though Adam failed as a public person to work then enter God’s rest on behalf of others, Christ as a public person successfully worked then entered God’s rest on behalf of others. The rest God proffered to Adam was attained by Christ, indicated by the reward of resurrection.

The separation of days mentioned above is reflected in the subsequent narrative in Genesis. After the fall into sin, days, weeks, and years are mentioned (e.g., Gen. 5:3-32). Moses notes that after a period of days cultic acts were conducted. In Genesis 4:3 we read, “So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.” No commands for such are mentioned prior to this event. Cain and Abel brought offerings to the LORD without a command recorded by Moses and, literally, “at the end of days.” This act of worship occurs after a non-specified period of days after the fall into sin. Somehow they knew that God required offerings and, quite plausibly, they knew these were to be offered at specific times (Gen. 1:14). As well, Moses wrote of this event that predated him, most likely either by the testimony of others passed down to him or by direct revelation from God. In either case, offerings were made “at the end of days” quite early in the post-fall narrative. The concept of days does not seem to be an introduction of anything new in man’s experience, nor does the concept of offerings “at the end of days.” If Genesis 1:14 indicates a creational provision for both days, years, and festivals (i.e., acts of worship on a given day or days), then the almost casual mention of offerings “at the end of days” makes sense.[20]


[1] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 21.

[2] David J. Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis 1:14,” Tyndale Bulletin 54.2 (2003): 23-40.

[3] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 23-24.

[4] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 24.

[5] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 24-25.

[6] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 25-26.

[7] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 31.

[8] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 33.

[9] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 32. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, says: “’light, lamp’ is always used in the Pentateuch to designate the sanctuary lamp in the tabernacle . . .” (22).

[10] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 32.

[11] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 32. Rudolph is quoting another scholar.

[12] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 33.

[13] Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 23.

[14] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 33.

[15] Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 780.

[16] Rudolph. “Festivals in Genesis,” 32.

[17] Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 776.

[18] Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, 40.

[19] Owen, Works, 18:338. Owen’s treatment of “A Day of Sacred Rest” argues in many places for an eschatological function of God’s rest from the beginning. He views God’s rest as proffering to Adam a quality of life to be obtained via obedience.

[20] See Martin, The Christian Sabbath, 63-65 for discussion on Gen. 4:3-4.

Contemporary worship

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 5, 2016 at 12:27 pm

“Contemporary worship” to me is an oxymoron. Biblically, worship is what angels and morning stars did before creation; what Abraham, Moses and the Levites, and the many-tongued Jewish diaspora at Pentecost did. It is what the martyrs, now ascended, do, and what all believers since the apostles have done. More importantly, it is what we will do eternally; worship is essentially (not accidentally) eschatological. – T. David Gordon

Always running after something new!

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on June 21, 2016 at 2:15 pm


The life of many religious people, I fear, in this age, is nothing better than a continual course of chasing after novelties. They are always morbidly craving fresh excitement; and they seem to care little what it is — if they only get it. All preaching seems to be the same to them; and they appear unable to “see differences” so long as they hear what is clever, have their ears tickled, and sit in a crowd. Worst of all, there are hundreds of young unestablished believers who are so infected with the same love of excitement, that they actually think it a duty to be always seeking it. Insensibly almost to themselves, they take up a kind of hysterical, sensational, sentimental Christianity — until they are never content with the “old paths;” and, like the Athenians, are always running after something new!  – J.C. Ryle

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