Summary: A look at the 4th commandment with an encouragement for God’s people to enjoy God’s gift of rest every week, resulting in a better perspective and greater productivity.
God’s Gift of Rest (Exodus 20:8-11)
Some time ago, a Tacoma, Washington, newspaper carried the story of Tattoo the basset hound. Tattoo didn’t intend to go for an evening run, but when his owner shut the dog’s leash in the car door and took off for a drive with Tattoo still outside the vehicle, he had no choice.
Motorcycle officer Terry Filbert noticed a passing vehicle with something dragging behind it. He said it was “the basset hound picking [up his feet] and putting them down as fast as he could.” He chased the car to a stop. Tattoo was rescued, but not before the dog had reached a speed of 20 to 25 miles an hour, rolling over several times. (John Ortberg, LeadershipJournal.net, 7-11-02)
I don’t know about you, but I feel like Tattoo sometimes – picking my days up and putting them down as fast as I can; rolling over several times; & in desperate need of rescue.
It’s life in America today. In a recent study reported by USA Today, 68% of Americans say they need more fun; 67% say they need a long vacation; 66% say they often feel stressed; 60% say they feel their time is crunched; 51% say they want less work and more play; 49% say they feel pressured to succeed; & 48% feel overwhelmed. (Lori Joseph and Bob Laird, “Americans Working Too Hard,” USA Today Snapshots; source: Hilton Generational Time Survey of 1,220 adults in January 2001)
If you feel overwhelmed, then you’re in good company today. That’s the feeling of nearly half of all Americans.
Gordon Dahl put it well when he said, “Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, to work at their play, and to play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair, and their life-styles resemble a cast of characters in search of a plot.”
If all that is true, and I’m afraid it is, then what is the cure? How can we bring our lives back into balance so that we’re not overwhelmed anymore? How can we get some perspective in our lives so that they have some meaning and value? How can we learn to enjoy life again in the midst of our hurried days?
Well, the answer is quite simple, and it’s found in one of the 10 commandments. If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to
Do you want God’s blessing on your harried life? Then the answer is quite simple – take one day off in seven. Stop working one full day every week. Put a day of rest in your weekly schedule.
Now, in the Old Testament context, that day was Saturday, the 7th
day of the week. In the New Testament, that day became Sunday, the 1st day of the week, in celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is very clear from the Scriptures that Jesus arose from the dead on the first day of the week. Matthew 28:1 says it was “after the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week.” Literally, it was “after the week at dawn on the first of the week.”
And the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the church for the very first time, was also a Sunday, the first day of the week (Acts 2:1; Lev. 23:15-16).
Now, when the believers in the first century began meeting together, they met every day in the temple courts and from house to house (Acts 2:46). But by the end of the book of Acts, we see them coming together to “break bread” on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), as well as to take up their collections (1 Corinthians 16:2).
During that time, there was a controversy in the early church about the day of worship. Some Jewish believers in Jesus wanted to keep it on Saturday. Some Gentile believers in Jesus were worshipping on Sunday. &
The Jewish believers were judging the Gentile believers, accusing them of violating God’s law and not being true believers.
Well, the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes it very clear when he writes to a Gentile church, “Do not let anyone judge you…with regard to…a Sabbath day” (Colossians 2:16). In other words, the specific day of worship and rest is NOT the important thing to God. The important thing is that we DO set aside regular times of worship and rest. As a pastor, Saturday’s and Sunday’s are busy days for me, so I have decided to set aside Friday’s as my “day of rest.”