Summary: Sermon on the fourth Commandment
Yes, I’m tired. For several years I’ve been blaming it on middle age, iron poor blood, lack of vitamins, air pollution, water pollution, saccharin, obesity, dieting, underarm odor, yellow wax buildup, and a dozen other maladies that make you wonder if life is really worth living. But now, I find out, it isn’t that. I’m tired because I’m overworked. The population of this country is over 200 million. Eighty-four million are retired. That leaves 116 million to do the work. There are 75 million in school, so that leaves 41 million to do the work. Of this total, there are 22 million employed by the [federal] government. That leaves 19 million to do the work. Four million are in the armed forces, which leaves 15 million to do the work. Take from that total the 14,800,000 people who work for the state and city gov’ts, and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, so that leaves 12,000 to do the work. Now there are 11,998 people in prisons. That leaves just 2 people to do the work. You and me. And you’re sitting there reading this [sitting there listening to this]. No wonder I’m tired. [Anonymous, as quoted in The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart by Chuck Swindoll (p. 319)] Everyone I know is tired most of the time. This commandment speaks to the need of people who have chosen to ignore the fourth commandment and pay the price physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some of us desperately need to learn the secret of the renewal of the body. Our Creator, who knows us best, knows that one out of seven days set aside for rest is critical to our well-being.
8"Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days a week are set apart for your daily duties and regular work, 10but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any kind of work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11For in six days the LORD made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; then he rested on the seventh day. That is why the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.” Exodus 20:8
A few of you may have grown up in homes where your parents were very strict about what could and could not be done on Sunday. Church was obviously the way that you began your day. There was no point in arguing about it. Mom would fix dinner on Saturday night so as not to have to work on Sunday afternoon. The only activities that were allowed on Sunday afternoon were sleep and maybe reading. You couldn’t play ball, couldn’t watch TV – couldn’t do much of anything. Fact is that there wasn’t a whole lot that was available to do on Sunday. Everything in town was shut down. Things have changed a lot over the years.
I remember when I was growing up how unusual it was to see a business open on Sunday. Now, it is unusual when a business is NOT open on Sunday. Sunday has become just another day of the week. Really the blue laws in this country changed in the last thirty or forty years. There is a generation of Christians alive today who changed right along with the culture. I’m not sure how that happened or why. Somehow I think this is another one of those examples where modern Christians have played the game of follow the leader or if they can do it I can do it. Just like water much of modern Christianity seeks the lowest level.
Let me suggest something to you though: this command that we come to today is not just about coming to church on Sunday. It has far greater implications than that.
Before we go any further, let me say this: My purpose here this morning is not to make up some list as far as what is and what is not allowed on Sunday. Should you go out to eat on Sunday? That way you don’t work fixing a meal, but then you are forcing the employees of the restaurant to work. Should you go shopping at Wal-Mart or the mall on Sunday? Should you wash the car on Sunday? Should a Christian work on Sunday? I’m a Christian; I work on Sunday. I’m not going to answer those questions this morning. But what I am going to do is to help you see some of what God wanted to accomplish in the lives of the Israelites through this command and what principles related to this command need to govern our everyday lives not just our Sunday lives. You need to take this teaching today and apply it to your life with much prayer and seeking God’s will.