EXODUS 20:8-11 MAY 1, 2016
“KEEPING THE SABBATH”
I grew up in Alabama where blue laws prevented most businesses from operating on Sunday. I don’t recall that anyone was actually hurt by these laws. I do understand that those who worship the almighty dollar were unable to make a profit on Sundays. However, as I have observed Chick-Fil-A I don’t see how being closed on Sunday as hurt their business. What does the fourth commandment have to say to us today?
From the Contemporary English Version Exodus 20:8-11(CEV) “Remember that the Sabbath Day belongs to me. You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day-not you, your children, your slaves, your animals, or the foreigners who live in your towns. In six days I made the sky, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That’s why I made the Sabbath a special day that belongs to me.”
Usually the first question raised about this commandment is which day is to be considered the Sabbath? The Israelites considered the seventh day to be the Sabbath. The seventh day began at dusk on Friday night and lasted till dusk on Saturday. From the time of the early church the Sabbath was recognized to be the first day of the week, which was called the Lord’s Day. This has been the tradition of the church since the resurrection of Jesus. Remember that not all traditions are bad.
We can see this change by the actions of the apostles. John 20:19-20 (NIV) “19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” Acts 20:7 (NIV) “7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” The celebration of communion is an indication that it was a day of worship. Revelation 1:9-10 (NIV) “9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet.” In Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church we see that the first day of the week was used as a day of worship by many churches. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (NIV) “1 Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” These verses back up our reasoning in keeping the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day.
The Seventh Day Adventists still celebrate the seventh day as the only day in which one may honor the Lord as being the Sabbath. We follow a different tradition. In the Evangelical Presbyterian Church our motto is: “In the essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity.” We consider that the day we take to celebrate the Sabbath is a non-essential.
In our culture weekends are seen as those special days that belong to “me”. Most Americans work a traditional week of Monday to Friday. People look forward to the weekend as being their time when they don’t have to work for someone else. I have often heard people say that Saturday is the day they use to do chores, get groceries, wash clothes, etc… Then I hear the refrain that Sunday is “my day” to sleep late, read the paper, and maybe cook a big breakfast for the family. We seem to be more concerned with meeting our own needs than in recognizing that the day belongs to the LORD.
In my college years one of my friends was a cowboy evangelist. I heard recently that he still preaches at rodeos. He often preached his “I” sermon. He would say our main problem is sin. What is the middle letter in sin? Then he would say. We have a pride problem. What is the middle letter? We are burdened with guilt. What is the middle letter? My brothers and sisters he would say, we have are going to die! What is the middle letter? In our world we have an “I” problem. We think that our needs must come first before all others, including God!
How does the fourth commandment begin? Exodus 20:8-10 (NIV) 8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.” God reminds us to not forget Him, the LORD! We are self centered! We know we should not forget our God, who called us to follow him. We are one of his children. This day is to be the LORDS! When we forget to keep the Sabbath we are forgetting Him. God has given us six days to get our work done. God asks us to set aside this one day in seven to honor him. Life has its own rhythms. If we don’t get enough: sleep, or good healthy food, or exercise or daily time with the Lord; our lives will become unbalanced. The LORD made us in his image and he knows what is best for us in all of our ways.
God also told us in this commandment to also not cause others to miss out on keeping the Sabbath. “On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” We are responsible for teaching our families how to live correctly. We should be setting a good example for our children so that they in turn will honor the LORD.
Over the century’s one of the problems that has arisen in how we keep the Lord’s Day holy is that we can easily fall into the trap of the Pharisees. Jesus was constantly getting into trouble with the Pharisees over how Jesus kept the Sabbath. Jesus often healed people on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were obsessed in keeping the law. They judged Jesus and found him wanting. May we be careful to not judge other Christians in how they keep or don’t keep the Sabbath! It is easy for us to become legalistic so that we are constantly judging others.
God brought order out of chaos when he created the world and all that is in it. The Lord rested on the seventh day and set a pattern for us to follow. Life is hectic and is often filled with chaos. We need to keep the Sabbath rest so that we can rest from our labors and keep things straight. We need this day so we can keep life in perspective. God is to come first in our lives. Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV) “33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” God promises to bless us for keeping this commandment.
May we keep the Sabbath and keep it unto the LORD. Ask God to show you how you are to honor him. He will show us what each of us needs to do and what not to do. The LORD will bless us as we keep this commandment.
Let us pray.