“So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).
“So the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:8).
“So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:13).
“So the evening and the morning were the fourth day” (Genesis 1:19).
“So the evening and the morning were the fifth day” (Genesis 1:23).
“So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
The pattern of the first six days of creation is clear: there was evening and there was morning each of the first six days.
But on the seventh day the pattern is broken. “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:13).” On the seventh day no evening, no morning. The seventh day is the day of rest; it is the day in which God entered into His eternal rest, sitting enthroned as the King over all creation.
It is that eternal day of rest for which man was created. Man was created to dwell with God in eternal glory. Man was created to enter into that eternal rest of the seventh day—that rest without evening and without morning. Had Adam obeyed God and kept the covenant of works, he would have merited the blessing of confirmation in righteousness and would have enjoyed the eternal Sabbath with God, the King of all creation.
But Adam disobeyed God and broke the covenant of works, thereby earning for himself and all his posterity cursing and death. Thus, he was banished from the garden, and instead of entering into the eternal Sabbath rest of God, he was simply commanded to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8ff.).
It would take the work of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, who obeyed God perfectly, keeping the covenant of works, to earn for Himself and all those in Him the blessings of confirmation in righteousness and the right to enter the eternal Sabbath rest of God. This is where John directs us in the rather cryptic statement, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day” (Revelation 1:10).
Four times in the book of Revelation we find John using the phrase “in the Spirit.” We find it here in 1:10, where John stands in the presence of the glory of the Son of Man. We find the phrase again in 4:2, where we read, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” Here the Spirit ushers John up into heaven to behold the glorious throne-room of God. We find the phrase again in 17:3, where we read, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.” Here John sees a vision of the great harlot, Babylon. The final occurrence of the phrase, which serves as the counterpart to 17:3, is found in 21:10, where we read, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”
These four instances of the phrase “in the Spirit” tell us, then, that John is ushered up into the throne room of God, into the council-chambers of God. There he not only sees the glory of God, but he hears the divine deliberations of God. He is in the Spirit, and as he is in the Spirit, he is transformed into a new creation. That same Spirit who raised up Christ from the dead, and who is, and ever remains, the source of His exalted and glorified life is the same Spirit that now apprehends John, ushers him into the glory of heaven, and make him a new creation.
And note that all of this takes place “on the Lord’s Day.” For John, of course, the Lord’s Day was no longer the Jewish Sabbath, Saturday. For John, the Lord’s Day was the Christian Sabbath, Sunday. The Jewish Sabbath had been replaced with the Christian Sabbath, Saturday with Sunday, the last day of the week with the first day of the week. Why the change? Remember John 20! Where was the body of Jesus on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? His body was in the grave! Where was the body of Jesus on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath? He was raised from the dead! The Chris-tian, then, does not gather with the saints for the festive day of rest on the day in which Jesus’ body was still in the tomb. The Christian gathers with the saints for the festive day of rest on the day in which Jesus left us with an empty tomb! The Christian Sabbath — Sunday the Lord’s Day — is the day of resurrection! Christians gather for worship on the day in which Christ was raised from the dead!
It is significant that John receives the visions of Revelation while he is “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” John receives The Revelation of Jesus Christ on Sunday. Why is that significant? It is significant because the book of Revelation describes for us, with horrific imagery, the judgment and wrath of God, leading up to and including the final judgment and wrath of God. How is it that Jesus can have John record such horrific things with such vivid detail? Because, as one preacher has put it, “behind the Apocalypsen lies an experienced Golgotha.” In other words, Jesus can have John record such horrific judgment and wrath because Jesus Himself has endured it!
The book of Revelation directs us to the cross of Jesus Christ, and teaches us to view the scene at Golgotha not only in terms of Jesus experiencing the torments and agonies of hell, but also to see at Golgotha heaven itself coming down in final judgment and wrath upon Jesus! It is as though the seven seals were being opened against Him! It is as though the seven trumpets were beingsounded against Him! It is as though the seven bowls were being poured out upon Him! There at the cross the final judgment entered in to time and history upon Jesus Christ, judging Him guilty!
At the cross Christ is treated as a covenant-breaker in our place. At the cross Christ suffers the curses of the covenant in our place. But in the resurrection Christ secures the blessings of the covenant for us. Is that not the point of Him meeting with Mary in the morning hours of the first resurrection day and meeting with the disciples in the evening hours of the first resurrection day?! He meets with Mary—in the morning hours of the first resurrection day—as the Risen Savior, the One who has endured final judgment in her place and has secured for her eternal life! He meets with the disciples—in the evening hours of the first resurrection day—as the Risen Savior, the One who has endured final judgment in their place and secured for them eternal life!
Herein lies the pattern for the Church. What does the Church do on each subsequent resurrection day—each Christian Sabbath—each Lord’s Day—each Sunday? She meets with the Risen Christ in the morning hours of the day (even as the Risen Christ met with Mary in the morning hours of the day), and again in the evening hours of the day (even as the Risen Christ met with the disciples in the evening hours of the day).
What is the message proclaimed to the Church as she meets with her Risen Savior on each subsequent resurrection day? The message is this: you belong to a Savior who has already stood trial in your place before God and so has removed from you the whole curse, and has secured for you the eternal Sabbath rest of God! Even as John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, thereby made a new creation, so each Lord’s Day, as the Spirit works in and through the proclamation of the Word—proclaiming the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ – we are made a new creation in Him.
Thus, we go from strength to strength, as each Lord’s Day, morning and evening, we gather to meet our Risen Christ and are made new. This is our privilege and this is our delight, Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day, until we meet with the Risen Christ in the eternal Sabbath of the new creation, where there is no evening and there is no morning.
Rev. Brian Vos is the Pastor of the Trinity United Reformed Church in Caledonia, Michigan. He is also the President of the Board of Reformed Fellowship.