The Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  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.

  • Exodus 20:8-11


What can you remember about last Sunday?


I hope you went to church, but did you also go to Sunday school or some other type of Bible study?


Let’s dig a little deeper.  How many in the church membership attend most weeks?  Of them, how many do something in addition to an hour-long worship service?  Were you actively worshiping God, or passively trying to stay awake while the preacher preached his sermon?  Were you successful in staying awake?  Must I go on?


I really need to ask one other question.  What part of the fourth commandment says anything about an hour-long Sabbath?  The Sabbath is an entire day.  Isn’t it?  During that day, we need to be active in worshiping God.  We need to study God’s Holy Word.  We need to pray.  In short, we need to prepare ourselves for the coming week where we worship God each day.


It is important to not work on the Sabbath, but it is equally important to enjoy the Lord.  Too often we are focused on sports events.  When I coached a youth soccer team in the 80s, there were no practices of Sunday at any time, or games for that matter.  Now, they have scheduled games at all times on Sunday.  Children come to church in uniform or skip church on Sundays with games.  When there is no game to attend, there are games on television.


I confess.  I am a sports nut, but I don’t go to the games.  Yet, I am finding that as inspiration comes from the notes I take on Sunday morning, Sunday afternoon is better spent developing the ideas into full stories.  The stories might not be written until later in the week, but there are enough notes to develop the stories.  In other words, Sunday becomes preparation for the worship during the rest of the week.  The games suddenly become less important.  I can check the scores later.


Note also that the commandment to remember the Sabbath pertains to the entire family and the servants.  I knew people who never cooked on Sunday.  Instead, they would go to a restaurant.  I often wondered about those restaurant workers.  They are, in essence, your servants when you go to the restaurant.  Were they serving on Sunday because they had to serve?  My younger son became a shift manager at a popular fast food restaurant.  He filled out his availability chart with availability for all shifts except Wednesday nights and all day Sunday (choir practice and church).  For over a year, he worked strange combinations of shifts, but he always worked Sunday mornings every week.  They were determined to tell him who was in charge.  The servers may not be Christians, but having them serve you so that you do not have to work is not the answer either.


Yet, with everything to this point, the commandment is talking about our relationship with God and our belief in God.


As God dictates to Moses on Mount Sinai, He repeats in a brief statement that He had created the heavens and the earth and all of the things they contained in six days.  On the seventh day, God rested.  We are not commanded to worship, learn more about Jesus, or commune with other Christians on the Sabbath in this commandment.  The commandment says “Remember”.  We are to remember that God truly is the creator of the universe.  He is the sovereign God of that universe.  For us, since Jesus ascended, we know that God sent His Son to save us.  In the time of Moses, they knew that a Savior would come, promised by God.  We need to remember Jesus saved us by dying for our sins.


Once we realize that God is who He says He is, is one entire day enough to worship Him?  Yet, we look at our watches when we think the sermon has gone too long.  The one hour is too long for us.  As God says in the scriptures, we are a stiff-necked people.  We drop our children off for Sunday school and then drive to the coffee house instead of spending time learning more about the Son of Man who died in our place.


However you worship God during every minute of every day, when you go to church next Sunday, remember Who you have been worshiping.



Add yours →

  1. I must share a story if you don’t mind. I am in the Satellite TV business. Used to be, we didn’t work Sundays. Now, we are 7 days a week, 365 days a year. But way back I used to have to work a Sunday every few weeks. I won’t every forget being at a fellow’s house one Sunday morning and he began to lecture me about how “A man ought not to be working on a Sunday.” He just kept on, and on, and on some more. I finally stopped what I was doing and looked at him and said. “Sir, why exactly is it that I am here on a Sunday anyway? ” He got the point and shut up.


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