The FOURTH Commandment:
Keep My Sabbath Holy
Since the children of Israel were not yet acquainted with God, it is very understandable the first three commandments were all about the special relationship between God and His people. They were a kind of an introduction to who God is:
Commandment ONE tells us WHOM we are to worship. We should put God first, never allowing anything in-between that relationship and Him.
Commandment TWO tells us HOW we are to worship. Because sinful man is spiritually weak, we are to have NO IDOLS.
Commandment THREE tells us to REVERENCE God’s NAME. Remember, He is “Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.”
God’s fourth commanding utterance to His people Israel and to the entire human race is to “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it Holy.” It is found in:
Exodus 20:8-11, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (9) Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: (10) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
Deuteronomy 5:12-15, “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. (13) Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: (14) But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. (15) And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.”
Exodus 31:12-17, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (13) Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. (14) Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. (15) Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. (16) Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. (17) It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”
Isaiah 58:13-14, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: (14) Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”.
In the FOURTH Commandment we are to REMEMBER God with a DAY. God stops and says: “I am the God of your time, so let’s check your schedule. There is a time to work for six days and there is ONE day a week you just sit down and REST and REMEMBER who gave you all the blessings and mercies during the past week.”
God so loved the human race that He gave us the “Sabbath.” The Hebrew word for “Sabbath” simply means “rest.” He gave us a day of rest. Today, we live in a nation which believes in putting work, business, and the pursuit of our lives 24-7.
In a recent study of 100,000 people, it revealed that if a person merely goes to church on Sunday, he cuts his chances of a fatal heart attack in half.
Even before the state, before the church, and before the family, the first institution God gave us was the institution of the “Sabbath.” In Genesis 2:1-3 we read,
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. (2) And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (3) And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
God commands us to keep the day of rest. Of all the days of the week this ought to be your favorite day, the best day of the week. Not because you can do more work, or go on family excursions to seek pleasure, but simply because it is the day you can relax, rest, and come worship God in fellowship with His people. How do you consider the “Sabbath Day,” or “The Lord’s Day” in light of that commandment?
It is a day in which God is telling us part of our time is His to command and to control. It’s a day in which we pause and turn our thoughts unto Him.
On the “Lord’s Day” we have a chance to stop and look away from all the things on this earth, and all secular physical work, and fix our eyes upon God, to remind ourselves:
Who God is, and of the terrible price He paid with Christ at Calvary to buy us back from Satan’s kingdom.
What He has promised to do for us and through us, of what He wants to accomplish in our hearts and lives.
When it comes to this day, we need to think of every activity that could occupy our time whether it is work, family, sports or whatever and say, “I have an appointment on this day with the God of the universe to rest my body and mind from work, and to worship with Him in his house and at His table.”
It is a day Psalm 23:1-3 reminds us of, “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to LIE DOWN in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He RESTORETH my soul…” Did you notice the phrase, “He MAKETH me to lie down?” If you don’t lie down and rest, if you don’t seek out those quiet pastures and still waters with the God of Heaven, it’s not beyond Him to make you. You say, “Well, I don’t believe God would do that.” Then, my friend, you don’t know God!
If you’re not going to slow down and rest, then look around at the circumstances of your life as things begin to unravel and break down. The breakdown may be physical, it may be emotional, spiritual, it could be financial, or it may be marital.
Again notice “He maketh me to lie down…” comes before the words, “He restoreth my soul…” God designed the day of rest for us to STOP and begin to ask some questions, such as:
Lord are you really first in my life, or is there something between You and me?
When I’m in trouble, facing difficulties, do I turn to You?
Lord, could I have created some other gods and images this week that somehow satisfied me and fulfilled my needs?
Have I dishonored Your name this week or spoken lightly of You?
Perhaps you need to cry in the way of the Psalmist in Psalm 139:23-24 by saying, “Search me Lord, Try me Lord, and help me to see those things in my life that need a readjustment this coming week.”
J.C. Penny the founder of the J. C. Penny stores, a Christian businessman, once said, “If a man’s business requires so much of his time that he can’t attend the Sunday morning and Sunday evening services and the Wednesday evening prayer meeting of his church, then that man has more business than God intended Him to have.” Whoa, that’s powerful!
Of all the Ten Commandments, this fourth command is unique.
Because it begins with a word found in no other commandment, namely “Remember.” God did not say “Think about it, or consider it.” He said, “Remember the Sabbath…”
Because this is the longest commandment of the Ten Commandments. More words are written about this commandment than any other.
Because the other nine of the Ten Commandments are repeated almost word for word in the New Testament over 109 times, and
Because the day for honoring this commandment has changed from the Jewish “Sabbath,” which is Saturday the 7th day of the week, to the believers “Sunday” which is the 1st day of the week.
Even though there has been a change in the day to observe the day of rest, the purpose of the day has remained the same:
To provide for us a time of physical rest,
To provide for us a time for spiritual worship, and
To provide for us a time to remember the Grace of God.
Now, returning to the text found in Exodus 20:8-11, we need to call your attention to THREE truths:
FIRST: The fourth commandment indicates for us a TIME FOR WORK. Herein, God has set for us a TIME to WORK and a TIME to REST. An old axiom says, “If I do not set a time to do whatever, I will not get around to doing it.” In verse 9 we read, “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work.” You will notice the command is to work SIX DAYS. The divine example of God is given in verse 11, “For in SIX DAYS the Lord made Heaven and earth…”
In America workers have gone from the SIX day week to the FIVE day week, and in some circles to the FOUR day week. That leaves THREE days off for the weekend. I believe this change has contributed to lower church attendance. The enactment of the THREE day weekend for certain holidays has been no boom for the church, as American workers are so busy traveling (which is often like work) they have forgotten God in the process. God said there is a time to WORK, “Six days shalt thou labour, and so do ALL thy work.”
Someone said, “He who never works is unfit for worship, and he who never pauses for worship is rendered incapable of work.”
The more diligent we are in performing our SIX days a week duties, the more we will value the rest and worship on the 7th day. You know, my friend, I believe the difficulties people face during the week could be dealt with more easily if they continue to give God the first day of the week, all day, instead of trying to work through this seventh day.
SECOND: The fourth commandment indicates for us a TIME FOR REST. In verse 10 we read, “But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt NOT do any work…” Remember the word “SABBATH” means “To break off,” “To stop working and rest.”
And who gave us the example of the Sabbath? God did in Genesis 2:1-3 where we again read, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended which He had made; and he RESTED on the seventh day from ALL His WORK which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because in it he RESTED from ALL His WORK which God created and made.” Imagine that, God took time off to REST!
Do you think the Lord might have some insights into His own creation?
Do you think He might know something about you that you tend to forget?
The Lord knows how much we need rest, to lie down, to reflect and to reconnect with Him, the very Author of life.
As one so well said, “The rest of the Sabbath is allowing our souls to catch up with our bodies.”
It is a proven fact that God set into the very nature of our world a period of rest for man, for the soil, for machinery, for all of the world, and to live any other way is to defy the laws of nature and to destroy ourselves.
How gracious is our God who deemed it necessary for us not only to work, but also to REST, as you will live longer, live healthily and your relationship to God will be vastly improved.
There’s an old saying, “As goes the Sabbath so goes the nation. When the “Sabbath” becomes profaned and desecrated, church attendance is ignored, the teaching of God’s Holy word and His morality and spiritual life is forgotten, and the nation as a whole sinks deeper and deeper into the mire of sin.”
Your great-grandfather called it the “Holy Sabbath.”
Your grand-father called it the “Sabbath.”
You father probably called it “Sunday.”
Today we call it the “Weekend.”
Do you think the “Sabbath” is being demeaned by the American public? I believe it is.
It is attacked by retail businesses with stores and shops opened SEVEN days a week.
It is attacked by manufacturing businesses with factories operating SEVEN days a week.
It is attacked by the pleasure seeking public, Christians included, where sports, outings, beaches, and getaways are more important than “WORSHIP of God in His house.”
Most of the world has dropped any pretense of honoring a special time with God. There is no time WITH God and no time FOR God.
As far as the world is concerned, God is irrelevant!
As far as the world is concerned, Church is not important!
As far as the world is concerned, worship…Really what is that?!
There is so little time left for God. Our lives are so full, and yet so very empty. There is no room for Him in our thoughts, in our schedules, or in the fabric of our lives. The Psalmist learned in Psalm 127:1-2 something very interesting about the way life works in God’s world. He wrote,
“Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
In His love, I believe the Lord is saying:
“You work night and day. When you’re not working, you’re playing so hard you exhaust yourself. You are busy, busy, and busy with no time for God, no time to evaluate your heart and life. You think by running at that pace, you will get ahead. You think if you don’t cram every excess hour with work or entertainment that you will somehow miss out on life and be a loser.”
But the SABBATH principle is the exact opposite! The fact is, time set aside for the Lord is never lost time. He tells us,
“When you stop working, I’ll do My greatest work both in time and in eternity.”
“When you stop working, you’ll see relationships from a new perspective.”
Not only are we to stop working on Sunday and rest, but we are not to cause others to work for us on Sunday either. It is a day in which every-one of us stops working. Everyone is to halt our work and rest.
Notice again Exodus 20:10, “…in it thou shalt not do ANY work, thou nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.”
That means a return to Sunday “Blue Laws” where every business closes down, including all stores, restaurants, literally all sports events, and whatever is going on during which people will have to work to serve you. When people have to go to work on Sunday, they themselves are kept away from church. And for that, my friend,
America is paying a heavy, heavy price for violating one of God’s absolute unchanging Laws. Christians likewise are also paying a heavy, heavy price in their lives as well as in the lives of their families.
God accepts NO excuse for you doing whatever you might be doing on the “LORD’S DAY” that violates SUNDAY REST and SUNDAY WORSHIP, in the house of God with the people of God.
THIRD: The fourth commandment indicates a TIME to take INVENTORY OF OUR LIVES. The commandment tells us we are to “labor SIX days and then on the SEVENTH day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” So how do we go from Saturday being the Sabbath to Sunday being the Sabbath? Who changed the law? It was changed by Christ, and then by the example of the Apostles.
On the SEVENTH day the creation of the world is remembered, for in Genesis 2:1-3 we read,
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them, And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it…”
The Jews celebrated the Sabbath on the 7th day of the week in remembrance of the creation of the earth.
On the FIRST day, Sunday, we are called to celebrate Christ’s resurrection, His victory over death.
It was on the FIRST day of the week that He rose from the dead.
It was on the FIRST day of the week that Christ appeared to the women and to all the disciples except Thomas.
It was on the FIRST day of the week, the very next week that Christ appeared to all the disciples including Thomas.
It was on the FIRST day of the week when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church on the day of Pentecost.
It was on the FIRST day of the week that the early church would celebrate the Lord’s table, as we read in Acts 20:7, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…”
It was upon the FIRST day of the week that believers are to bring their Tithes to the church house, as we read in I Corinthians 16:2, ”Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…”
So as believers we worship on the FIRST day of the week as “The Lord’s Day, as our Sabbath Day of Rest.”
It’s our day of worship, where we in a profound way reconnect with God. It’s a day where we let Him take inventory of our lives, our relationships, our sins, and to which He can bring conviction, and re-supply the diminished supply of mercy, compassion, convictions and instructions.
It’s our day in which to rejoice in the goodness of God in our lives, as we reflect upon Him, in His marvelous Mercy and Grace upon us for the week just passed and our solemn prayer for His aid and refreshment to our soul in the week to come.
It’s our day to fellowship with the family of God in the house of God, as we read in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” In verse 26 the writer calls our absence from gathering together a “willful sin.” It’s a “willful sin” to stay away from the gathering in the fellowship of God’s house.
Every Sunday is a testimony to the great fact that, “JESUS CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD.” Every Sunday morning ought to be an Easter Celebration for believers. Nothing other than that caused the first century Jews to abandon their Sabbath, their SEVENTH day to now worship on the FIRST day, Sunday.
Please notice again Exodus 20:8 “to keep it Holy” and in verse 11, “wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hollowed it.” God made this day a “HOLY DAY” not a “HOLIDAY.” When I was growing up, folks just took it for granted that:
Sunday school was a time to teach God’s word,
The morning service was a time for preaching,
The evening service again was a time for fellowship and preaching, and
The Wednesday evening service was for preaching and praying.
So far as I am concerned by CONVICTION that’s the way it has always been, and I have not changed that conviction. Because God loves us so much, He told us to, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Any excuse for missing Sunday in the house of God, is NOT biblical but SELFISH and SINFUL. No one is ever so GOOD or so HOLY or so SPIRITUALLY WISE that they can afford to remain away from the Lord’s house.
Folks, we would do well to fence in Lord’s Day with a higher wall than ever. Whatever others may do, let us keep this rendezvous with God, and dedicate our lives anew to God as we observe this day of REST and WORSHIP. God told us, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon, The FOURTH Commandment: “Keep My Sabbath Holy,” then, right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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