Summary: A look at the final of the vertical commands (keeping the Sabbath day).
TS: So far in the series:
The first commandment tells us we are to worship God and God alone. In other words, we are not to have any divided loyalty in our hearts but we’re to be committed to God; body, soul and spirit.
The second commandment deals with how we’re to worship God and our worship is to come from our hearts and not just from our heads. So, we don’t need a liturgy to follow or any religious objects to focus on and we don’t even have to be in any kind of religious building.
The third commandment deals with the goal of our worship and our goal is to glorify God, and that means; we will not take His name in vain.
Then the fourth commandment is probably the most difficult of the ten because the issue of the Sabbath was a point of controversy in Jesus’ day and to some degree it still continues today. There’s the issue of whether or not Christians need to keep the Sabbath since it was associated with Israel and not the church and then there’s also the whole matter of the Lord’s Day in the New Testament and whether or not it was to be observed as a Christian Sabbath.
Tonight, I hope to give you some background information on the origin and purpose of both the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day and to show how both have been corrupted by Jews and Christians alike and then hopefully give some scriptural principles that we can apply when it comes to the Lord’s Day.
The keeping of the Sabbath wasn’t just given by God as a commandment but He communicated the need for us to observe the Sabbath by His example, when He created the world.
When we study the creation account in Genesis it says God created for six days and then He rested or He stopped creating on the seventh.
Why did He do that?
Was He tired?
No, of course not, Psalm 121 tells us God never slumbers nor sleeps.
God didn’t need to take a rest but He gave Himself as an example for us to follow because He knows that we all need a break, once a week.
In Exodus 16 when God provided Israel with the manna; they were told to gather enough on the sixth day so they wouldn’t have to go out and gather any on the Sabbath.
So, even prior to the giving of the Ten Commandments God was saying that the purpose of the Sabbath was to give everyone a day for rest and worship.
So, before the law was given as well as after, the Old Testament believers had several reasons to keep the Sabbath
The main one was; it was to be an act of obedience because this would be a test of whether or not they were willing to be obedient to God. And if they were, God promised them certain blessings and if they refused, He warned them He would afflict them with specific punishments.
We also understand that the Sabbath was given for man’s benefit because as Jesus said in the gospels, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.”
So, God created us with a need to take a break from our routine and even the sociologists tell us that reasonably spaced work breaks increase productivity; after forty hours of work concentration drops, mistakes increase and morale suffers.
The Sabbath was also to be a time of individual and corporate worship.
It was a time for everyone to get their eyes off the physical world and to get themselves focused on the eternal.
The Sabbath was a covenant symbol for the Jewish people.
They were to be different from the world around them and keeping the Sabbath was the evidence that they were. And basically, by doing this; they were saying, their devotion to God was more important than their business or anything else because this day was set aside for Him.
So, does the idea of a Sabbath sound good? Well, there were plenty of benefits but there were also a few verses that told them what they couldn’t do on the Sabbath.
Exodus 16:29 NKJV
See! For the LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore He gives you on the sixth day bread for two days. Let every man remain in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.”
Everyone was to stay home!
Exodus 16:23 NKJV
Then he said to them, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Tomorrow is a Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. Bake what you will bake today, and boil what you will boil; and lay up for yourselves all that remains, to be kept until morning.’ ”