the Christological view of Heb. 4:9-10 and hymnody

 

Just as God entered his rest on the seventh day at creation, thus becoming the Sabbath day by positive example (and a pledge of glory to come), so Christ entered his rest on the first day, the day he rose from the dead, the day his new-creative/redemptive work was accomplished, thus becoming the Sabbath day for the new covenant people of God by positive example. Owen says:

 

Therefore did the Lord Christ enter into his rest, after he had finished and ceased from his works, ‘on the morning of the first day of the week,’ when he rose from the dead, the foundation of the new creation being laid and perfected.[1]

 

Though the interpretation of Hebrews 4:9-10 offered above appears to be the minority view in current literature, when many discuss the sufferings and glory of our Lord, they often do so utilizing such language as redemption accomplished via the foundation of the new creation by the work and resurrection of Christ. When the question is asked, when did our Lord enter rest? Many reply, “At his resurrection.” Why did he enter his rest at the resurrection? Because his work of redemption was finished. In fact, Christian hymnody reflects the theology of Hebrews 4:9-10 as offered above. There seems to be a theological intuition reflecting this view in older hymn-writers. Two such examples make this clear. Notice the creational and new-creational motifs in both of these hymns, as well as Edenic, redemptive-historical, and eschatological emphases. The first hymn was written by Christopher Wordsworth in 1862 and the second by William Walsham How in 1871. Both men were Anglicans.

 

  1. O day of rest and gladness,
    O day of joy and light,
    O balm of care and sadness,
    Most beautiful, most bright;
    On thee the high and lowly,
    Through ages joined in tune,
    Sing Holy, Holy, Holy,
    To the great God Triune,
  2. On thee, at the creation,
    The light first had its birth;
    On thee, for our salvation,
    Christ rose from depths of earth;
    On thee our Lord, victorious,
    The Spirit sent from heav’n;
    And thus on thee, most glorious,
    A triple light was giv’n.
  3. Thou art a port protected
    From storms that round us rise;
    A garden intersected
    With streams of Paradise;
    Thou art a cooling fountain
    In life’s dry, dreary sand;
    From thee, like Pisgah’s mountain,
    We view the promised land.
  4. Today on weary nations
    The heav’nly manna falls;
    To holy convocations
    The silver trumpet calls,
    Where gospel light is glowing
    With pure and radiant beams,
    And living water flowing
    With soul-refreshing streams.
  5. New graces ever gaining
    From this our day of rest,
    We reach the rest remaining
    To spirits of the blest.
    To Holy Ghost be praises,
    To Father and to Son;
    The church her voice upraises
    To thee, blest Three in One.[2]
  1. This day at thy creating word
    First o’er the earth the light was poured:
    O Lord, this day upon us shine
    And fill our souls with light divine.

2. This day the Lord for sinners slain
In might victorious rose again:
O Jesus, may we raised be
From death of sin to life in thee!

3. This day the Holy Spirit came
With fiery tongues of cloven flame:
O Spirit, fill our hearts this day
With grace to hear and grace to pray.

4. O day of light and life and grace,
From earthly toil sweet resting place,
Thy hallowed hours, blest gift of love,
Give we again to God above.

5. All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to thee,
Whom, with the Spirit, we adore
For ever and for evermore.[3]

 

____________________

[1] Owen, Works, 20:335.

[2] Christopher Wordsworth, “O Day of Rest and Gladness,” in Trinity HymnalBaptist Edition, #321.

[3] William Walsham How, “This Day at Thy Creating Word,” in Trinity HymnalBaptist Edition, #324.