Fourth Commandment- “Remember the Sabbath by Keeping it Holy”
Written by Pastor Jim Law
The fourth commandment brings us to God’s command for a Sabbath rest, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God..”
In recent years billionaire Bill Gates of Microsoft fame has stated that belief in God makes sense. He has also commented on why he didn’t go to church regularly, “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”
This sentiment is shared by many others as church attendance has waned in developing countries of the world. Some have attributed the decline to negative portrayals of religion in the media coupled with a boredom or a lack of connection with the worship services.
However, when we take in the purpose of the fourth commandment we discover that God has set into the rhythm of His creation a need for us to take a Sabbath rest. In fact, the basic reason for keeping the Sabbath is theological: God made the world in six days, and then he rested. His activity in creation thus sets the pattern for our own work and rest.
God has gone on record that He is a working God who has been at work from the beginning, and He is also a resting God who took a Sabbath rest from His creative labor.
With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, the New Testament reveals that Christ has become the Sabbath rest of every believer (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4). When the early church gathered, they did so on the Lord’s Day. It was called the Lord’s Day (Sunday) because it commemorated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Keeping the Lord’s Day preserves the Sabbath principle of resting one whole day out of seven. As followers of Christ, we are commanded to not forsake the gathering of the church (Hebrews 10:22-24), which should be received with a heart of commitment.
God gave this Sabbath command for our good and to bless us. The fulfillment of the Sabbath is found in Christ alone who accomplished through His redeeming work a rest for our restless souls. As you think about how this command relates to your life, consider establishing a Sabbath rest into the rhythm of your week for the purpose of:
1. WORSHIP- Faithfully attend the corporate worship of your church, and unit in a formal commitment as a member. Give attention to the reading of the Bible and time to think about the claims of Jesus Christ. (John 20:30,31)
2. COMPASSION- Use the Lord’s Day to do good and express mercy to others. Make a visit to the hospital or a nursing home. Prepare a meal for a shut-in or a needy person, or engage in some ministry that fits your gift set. Interestingly, Jesus was always in hot water with the religious establishment because He healed people on the Sabbath. We would do well to follow His example by expressing compassion.
3. REST- Keeping the Lord’s Day would also involve closing our calendars, going off the clock, putting away the errand list. This is a day to step out of the stress and grind of life. It is a discipline to keep us from allowing our work to enslave us.
Christians have always recognized that some work is necessary on the Lord’s Day, ie. medical care, shift work, police and military, etc. However, with noted exceptions, there is much for us to gain by observing the Sabbath principle contained in the fourth commandment.
May we discover the joy and wisdom of God in that He has given a remedy to the pressures of life. He has commanded that one whole day out of seven is to be given to rest in His grace. This is a gracious command given to help us love God, do good to others, and rest from our labor.