2004-08-06 - The Fourth Commandment
The Ten Commandments, Part 4
Exodus 20:8-11 (NIV) Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Some of us grew up thinking of the Sabbath as restrictive, a day of "Thou shalt nots." But actually the Sabbath is a gift to us. The intent, as we will see, is not to be legalistic. At the church I attended as a teen, we weren't supposed to swim on Sundays, though watching TV was okay. Never figured that one out! Some people don't believe in doing yard work on Sundays, but some find it relaxing, which is one point of the Sabbath.
Christ reined in the legalism of the Pharisees.
Matthew 12:1-14 (NIV) At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. 2 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath." 3 He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? 4 He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated read--which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests. 5 Or haven't you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent? 6 I tell you that one greater than the temple is here. 7 If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,] you would not have condemned the innocent. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
Jesus took them past the immature level of the "letter of the law," into the more complex mature area of "spirit of the law." He also reminded them that service to our fellow man shouldn't stop on the Sabbath. In fact, what better way to honor our Lord, than to help one of His children on the Sabbath?
And Paul set us free from legalism with his teaching that each person is to decide, between himself and God, about whether a day is sacred. Paul fought legalism as well, and wanted the Christ-followers to revel in the freedom afforded them by God. (See Romans 14:5-9.).
But we need a Sabbath. God built us that way. When we work seven days per week, we burn out and break down-spiritually, emotionally and physically. We need to take at least one day off per week. It doesn't have to be Saturday or Sunday. Some people have to work on Sundays, to provide for others' needs of health, safety etc. But everyone needs to take a Sabbath sometime during the week.
Comments or Questions?