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4th Commandment

4th Commandment

July 14, 2024 by Pastor David Hubbard
Passages:Exodus 20:8-10

Sermon Synopsis

Welcome to bible study here at Clay County First Church Of God.
We are thankful for those of you that are here, and to those of you
who are watching by way of the internet. We have been studying
the Ten Commandments:
1. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
2. “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.” …
3. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” …
Today we are talking about the 4th Commandment. Remember
the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
Exodus 20:8-10
8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labor, 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:
A Day for Delight
Have you ever wondered why a week is exactly seven days long?
Why isn’t it shorter or longer? Why not a four-day week? Why not a
twenty-day week? Why seven? And given that we do have a
seven-day week, why does that set the rhythm of work and rest?
Why have time away from work weekly, instead of only monthly or
yearly or not at all? These questions are answered in Genesis, as are
so many other questions about the origins of things. In Genesis, the
Bible says that God spent six days creating the universe and every
kind of creature. Then Scripture says,
Genesis 2:2-3 says “
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.”
The seven-day week goes all the way back to the first week of
history, and the day of rest is the Creator’s own idea. What does it
mean to say God rested? Did he take a nap? No, God doesn’t
“slumber or sleep”. He never needs a break to regain his energy.
God has infinite energy and power. “The Lord is the everlasting
God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or
weary”. Whatever the Creator’s reason for resting, it’s not that he
was exhausted and needed to recover.
Also, God’s rest did not mean God stopped doing anything at all and
left the world on its own. Without God upholding it each moment,
the world would immediately collapse. God never stops watching
over his creatures and maintaining the world, but God did rest
“from all the work of creating.” God’s creative work involved
making brand new kinds of things that never before existed. By the
end of day six, God had completed that creative work. The universe
was richly furnished, fully functional. Creatures could flourish and
multiply within the order God had set up, without any new
miracles. At that point, while God kept sustaining all things, he
rested from his work of creating.
Why did God do it this way? As Almighty God, he could have created
everything in six seconds, but he took six days. He could have
finished creating without setting aside a special day, but he rested
on the seventh day, blessed it, and made it holy. Why? God did this,
not just for his own benefit, but for the benefit of people whom he
made in his image, and wanted to pattern after himself. In the Ten
Commandments, God told the people of Israel to follow the pattern
he himself had set:
Exodus 20:8-11 says “
8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9
Six days shalt thou labor, 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:
11For 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.”
Attacking God’s Day
It’s sad to say, but many people attack God’s day of blessing. This
happens at two levels: intellectual and practical. At an intellectual
level, many people reject the statement that God created everything
in six days, because they think science has proven otherwise. At a
practical level, people do their own thing, and don’t even set aside
one day in seven for rest and worship.
The intellectual attack assumes that people are smarter than God.
Continually changing theories are taken more seriously than the
Bible. Some people think science has proven beyond doubt that
creatures gradually evolved over millions of years, so they think the
Bible is just plain wrong when it says God made the universe and all
the basic kinds of creatures in a period of six days. Others, who still
believe in the Creator, don’t say flatly that the Bible is wrong; they
just insist that the Bible can’t really mean six days when it says six
days and that each creation “day” lasted millions or billions of
years.
Such thinking has various problems. One problem is assuming that
the origin of things can be explained by projecting current
processes into the distant past. But God’s current patterns of
sustaining and maintaining his world are very different from God’s
creative activity in producing brand new kinds of things in the six
days of creation. Also, the curse of sin has changed the world from
what it once was (not to mention the fact that sin has also distorted
our powers of observation and reasoning). So it’s wrong to think
that any supposedly scientific theory of origins in which fallible
humans project the present into the past, is more accurate than
God’s infallible account of creation.
Another problem for those who deny creation in six days is that our
workweek is patterned on the Creator’s workweek. If six days were
actually billions of years, we’d have to work for billions of years
before it was time to rest. We’d never make it! So let’s just accept
what God says in the Bible.
And let’s not just accept what God says; let’s act on it. Once we’ve
dealt with the intellectual, we also need to deal with the practical.
The practical attack on God’s day for delight assumes that our time
is our own, to use as we choose. Instead of a day set apart for rest,
renewal and fellowship with God, we cram the Lord’s Day with
shopping and selling, factory work, office work, farm work,
schoolwork, housework, and yard work. If we do take a break from
work, we may be so busy scurrying to ball games or golf courses
that we have no time for church, no time for worshiping God, no
time for prayer and Scripture, no time for fellowship with God’s
people. Nobody, not even God, is going to tell us what to do with our
time.
The Sabbath commandment is violated perhaps more than any of
the Ten Commandments. But if you violate God’s day for delight,
you violate yourself. You can’t reject God’s pattern without
offending God and damaging yourself. When you cram life with
your own pursuits 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you suffer,
and your relationship to God suffers. You work and worry, plan and
perspire your way through each day, without any special pause to
rejoice in God, and refresh your soul and body. Life becomes a
burden instead of a blessing.
Enjoying God’s Day
Take at least one day in seven to relax and rejoice. If you don’t have
the time, then make time. If you’re too busy for God, then you’re
flat out too busy. Make time for delight. Make time for God. Don’t
do it because I say so. Do it because God says so. The seven-day
week, with one day set apart, is the Creator’s own pattern, woven
into the world’s fabric from the beginning. It’s also in the Ten
Commandments, literally written in stone by God himself.
One reason God set aside this day of delight was to relish his
creation. Even the Creator himself didn’t just work, work, work.
Genesis says that during the six days of creation, God paused and
took stock repeatedly, and saw that his accomplishments were
good. That’s a pattern for our work too: do it well, and enjoy a sense
of accomplishment as we do it. Work is good, but there comes a
time to finish the week’s work and stop. The Bible says,
“God had
finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he
rested from all his work.” That’s what our Creator did, and that’s
what he tells us to do.
God made a vast variety of delightful things for his own enjoyment
and for the enjoyment of his people. Why should he work to create
so many good things if nobody ever takes the time to appreciate and
enjoy them? And why should you work day in and day out if you
never relax and relish the fruit of your work? Enjoy God’s good
creation, as the Creator himself did.
Another reason for weekly rest, in addition to enjoying creation, is
to enjoy the freedom of salvation. In Deuteronomy 5:15, after
commanding the Israelites to observe the Sabbath day by keeping
it holy and resting, God said,
“Remember that you were slaves in
Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a
mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” The Israelites had been
slaves in Egypt for many years, without a vacation or a day off.
Then God rescued them and set them free from slavery. But why
rescue them if they were just going to go back to slaving away 24
hours a day, seven days a week? Why rescue them at all if they were
just going to be enslaved by their own schedules rather than by the
Egyptians? God wanted to make sure his people took a day to enjoy
their freedom and to remember who it was who had set them free.
God also wanted to make sure the Israelites didn’t treat other
people the way the Egyptians had treated them. Part of God’s
purpose in the Sabbath command is “so that your manservant and
maidservant may rest, as you do.” God’s day of delight is a great
equalizer. There’s no difference between immigrants and
native-born, no difference between bosses and servants, nobody
giving orders or following orders. There are only people equally
created in God’s image, equally set free by God’s salvation.
Whatever the differences in social status, God dissolved those
differences for at least one day each week and showed that those
differences didn’t count for anything with God. The Sabbath
command gave everyone equal opportunity to be renewed and
refreshed by the reality that God was Lord of all equally. If people
really took this fact seriously on the Sabbath, it would transform
the way they treated each other on all the other days.
In fact, even the animals were to share the Sabbath blessing.
Though not equal to humans, animals were still created by God and
are meant to share in the benefits of God’s liberation and salvation
of humanity. So God insisted that even beasts of labor must have a
day to rest and “be refreshed”. You can read about that in Exodus
23:12.
In short, God instituted a special day of blessing so that his people
and all creatures could regularly enjoy the fruits of his creation and
the freedom of his salvation. Above all, he wanted them to enjoy
him, to relish having him as their God and being set apart as his
very own.
Lord of the Sabbath
In order to fully enjoy the Lord’s Day and honor God, it must be a
day of celebration and gladness. But, I want you to beware of at
least two joy-killers that can spoil the Lord’s Day.
One joy-killer is to be so wrapped up in daily activities that we see
any pause as a bothersome interruption. In the Bible book of Amos,
God rebuked merchants who could hardly wait for the Sabbath to be
over so that they could get back to selling stuff and making money.
Such people saw the Sabbath as nothing more than a waste of time
that was hurting their profits. Their obsession with money not only
gave them the wrong attitude toward the Lord’s Day, it also made
them dishonest and willing to cheat their customers.
Many merchants today have a similar attitude. In fact, they don’t
just complain about the Lord’s Day; they ignore it entirely and go
on with business as usual. Stores are open seven days a week to
boost profits. Factories operate around the clock and don’t stop
even for one day a week. That way the factory will never be idle and
will generate as much money as possible. Why shut anything down
on the Lord’s Day so that everyone can go to church if they wish
when there’s money to be made? Why worship when there’s always
more work to be done? A billionaire businessman once said religion
is not an efficient use of time.
If you’re a business owner or manager, and you’re filled with the
love of Christ and the Spirit of Christ, you won’t drive your
employees ruthlessly. You won’t demand all their time and energy.
Instead, you’ll respect the days an employee needs for worship, and
you’ll make room for an employee’s personal and family life as
well. Such worship of efficiency is a joy-wrecker. You wreck other
people’s joy, and you’re not helping yourself either. Many people
who drive themselves too hard without a day for rest and worship
end up stressed out, burned out, divorced, or even dead of a heart
attack. Seeing rest and worship as obstacles to business as
usual—that’s a joy-wrecker.
At the other extreme is another joy-wrecker. While some people
ignore the Lord’s Day entirely, others fall into the opposite trap and
take the Sabbath as an end in itself. They make it into a legalistic
pile of do’s and don’ts, rather than a day of joy-filled celebration.
Throughout the Bible, a holy day was supposed to be a day of
special joy and feasting, a day of worship and thanks to God.
Maybe when you think of a holy day, you tend to picture it as a sad,
somber, solemn occasion where smiling is prohibited. But the Bible
shows that a holy day is a day to enjoy, a day to celebrate, a day to
party. In Nehemiah 8, the Bible tells about a memorable holy day.
After decades of exile in a foreign land, God’s people had returned
to their homeland. They had begun to rebuild their city and their
spiritual lives. But they still had a lingering sense of failure and
guilt. One day they all came together for a sacred assembly.
As they listened to the reading and explanation of God’s Law, all
the people started to weep. They realized how badly they had failed.
But their leaders said,
“This day is sacred to the Lord your God. Do
not mourn or weep.” Nehemiah said,
“Go and enjoy choice food and
sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord
is your strength.” It was fitting for the people to be saddened by
their sins and failures, but God didn’t want them to get stuck at that
point. He wanted them to rejoice in his forgiveness and in the new
future he was opening up for them.
When the people realized that, they stopped crying and had a party
instead. “Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send
portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now
understood the words that had been made known to them”
(Nehemiah 8:9-12).
A holy day was supposed to be a day of special joy and feasting in
worship and gratitude to God. When Jesus came, he fulfilled the
Sabbath and revealed the real spirit of God’s day of delight. Jesus
came to save sinners and set off celebrations, not to pile on
regulations. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said,
“Come unto me, all ye
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus is
the source of ultimate rest and refreshment, of which the Sabbath
was a sign. Jesus told some legalists in Mark 2:27-28,
“The sabbath
was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the
Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”
Since Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath and fulfills the meaning of the
Sabbath, Christians are not required to observe all the Sabbath
regulations that were directed to Jewish people in Old Testament
times. Christians with different understandings of the Sabbath
should not judge each other. The Bible says in Colossians 2:16
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you … with regard to a
festival or a new moon or a Sabbath”. Romans 14:5 says “One man
esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day
alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”
A New Day
After Jesus returned to heaven and his gospel spread, the Holy
Spirit showed the church that certain ceremonies and feast days no
longer needed to be observed. These things had been pointers and
hints of God’s eternal rest, but the full reality had come in Christ.
Some things in the Old Testament law became obsolete because
Christ fulfilled them. Still, the pattern of one special day in seven
did not become obsolete. This pattern is rooted in the world’s first
week, when God finished his creative work in six days and rested
the seventh. This pattern was fixed long before God gave Israel
specific ceremonies and regulations.
What’s more, this one-day-in-seven pattern is in the Ten
Commandments, which remain the defining statement of God’s
moral law. Every other command among the Ten remains in effect
and normative, so it would be strange if this particular command
no longer applied.
The command still applies, but the meaning has become richer
since Jesus came. In fact, the day has even been moved to a new day
because of what Jesus has done. The Old Testament Sabbath was on
the seventh day of the week, in honor of God’s original creation and
also to celebrate being saved from slavery. But with Jesus came a
greater salvation and a new creation, so there also came a new day
of celebration: the first day of the week instead of the last, Sunday
instead of Saturday.
The ultimate salvation and new creation burst into life on a Sunday
morning. After dying on the cross to pay for the sins of the world,
Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Before Jesus
ascended to heaven, he showed himself to his disciples and helped
them to understand many things in a fresh way in the light of his
resurrection. The church came to see that the resurrection was a
greater event than even the original creation of the world, and that
being rescued from sin and granted eternal life was a greater
salvation than when Israel was rescued from Egypt. Jesus’ victory
over death made the first day of the week the ultimate day of
delight. This was confirmed by another huge event that also
happened on the first day of the week. Seven weeks after
resurrection Sunday, the risen and reigning Christ poured out his
Holy Spirit with tremendous power on the church. That day,
Pentecost, was also a Sunday.
The change from Saturday to Sunday is evident at various points in
the New Testament part of the Bible. According to the apostle John,
Jesus’ disciples were meeting together on the first day of the week
already a week after the resurrection. Later, as people in other
nations learned about Jesus, they too scheduled their worship
gatherings for Sunday. Acts 20:7 says,
“On the first day of the week
we came together to break bread.” They worshiped and celebrated
the Lord’s Supper that Sunday, and they also listened to God’s
Word together.
Sunday was also the day for God’s people to give offerings. In 1
Corinthians 16:2, the Bible says,
“On the first day of every week,
each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with
his income.” Even when circumstances or persecution prevented
Christians from worshiping with others, they still observed Sunday
as the Lord’s Day in personal worship. Jesus’ friend John was in
exile on a prison island when he wrote in Revelation 1:10,
“On the
Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit.”
The change to Sunday as the Lord’s Day is also evident in
statements made by Christian leaders in the century after the New
Testament was written. For example, Ignatius, one of the foremost
Christian leaders in the second century, wrote,
“Christians have
come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the
Sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also
our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.” Justin
Martyr, another leader who lived in the second century, describes
the church’s worship “on the day called Sunday.”
The Holy Spirit guided the church to make Sunday its day of
worship. In this way the church honors the resurrected Christ as the
source of salvation and as Lord of the new creation, and it also
distinguishes the new and better covenant in Christ from the earlier
covenant with Moses. Instead of calling it the Sabbath, God’s new
day of delight is called “the Lord’s Day,
” after the Lord Jesus.
Keep it Holy
Christians now worship on a new day because of Christ, but the
one-in-seven pattern is still embedded in the way we’ve been
created, and remains in the Ten Commandments. God set apart a
day as holy, and he commands us to keep it holy. God blessed this
day in order to bless us. Each of us needs a day set aside to rest from
the hustle and bustle of the rest of the week, a day to rejoice and be
refreshed and renewed. We also need a day set aside so that God’s
people can get together on the same schedule, worship him, hear
his Word read and preached, pray and bring offerings, and share in
the Lord’s Supper.
Now let’s get personal. How are you spending your Sundays? Do you
take time to rest and enjoy God’s goodness? Or do you think
everything is going to fall apart if you stop working for a moment?
Are you the servant of a gracious God, or the slave of a demanding
schedule? Do you make space in your life to enjoy the fruit of
creation and the freedom of salvation? Do you celebrate God’s
goodness with other people in church each week, and do you extend
this into daily, personal prayer and Bible reading? Set aside a full
day each week to focus on God and rest in Christ, and the effects
will spill over into all your other days and enrich your relationship
to the Lord.
Closing
Honoring Sunday is a mark of belonging to God. Resting on Sunday
helps you to rest in God every day. You depend on your Creator, not
just your own efforts, to supply your needs. You receive salvation
through faith in Christ’s perfect work and not through your own
works. Is that true of you? Have you found in Jesus your joy and
peace, your delight and security? He says,
“Come to me and I will
give you rest.” How are you responding to that loving invitation?
Rest in Christ and let your faith be renewed and refreshed in a
special way each Sunday.

Exodus 20:8–10

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.

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