Summary: There is a lot of debate about the Sabbath day and our responsibility to keep it. One thing is sure, God wants us to stop and listen to Him regularly.
Deut. 5:12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 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 ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
Exodus 20: 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. 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. 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.
Does that strike anyone else here besides me as a bit unusual?
I mean, how important are these? God calls these Ten Commandments the words of the covenant! Look at Exodus 34:27-28
27 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 Moses was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.
Wouldn’t you expect to see these Ten Commandments posted in obvious places throughout your Old Testament? But they are not. They are listed twice in the midst of two records of a specific spectacular part of Israel’s history. This is the place where God took Israel to Mount Sinai in the desert to see His presence and hear His voice and to join Himself to them as His own covenant people, His bride.
How many of you can remember your wedding vows? How many of you say them regularly to one another? I would doubt that any of us do that. We stated our vows to one another at a specific spectacular time in our relationship and though we don’t keep saying them to each other, we expect them to be honored, and we might repeat a portion of them to one another from time to time, but usually not the whole set of marriage vows.
Whenever I am asked to perform a wedding, the couple must meet with me for premarital counseling. As part of this, the couple goes over the wedding vows with me and make sure that they understand them and agree to submit to what they mean, or at least convince me that they do. If any couple will not do this, I won’t do their wedding. Wedding vows are the words of a covenant made between a man and woman before God and witnesses. It is serious business, not just a pretty and expensive ceremony.
We have been studying these covenant commandments that God gave to Israel and have come to the fourth one. Last week we noticed that Israel constantly had problems going after other gods. This commandment is in place to help them remember who God is and who they are before Him. This fourth commandment put Israel on a schedule of taking time out for God every week. Perhaps we should incorporate a regular time out for each other in our wedding vows as well.
It is usually abbreviated to say: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” And that is the heart of it, but there are more words of explanation given. In fact, God describes this one using more words than any other commandment in the Ten.
Also, of all the commandments, this one has the most variation between Exodus and Deuteronomy where both the command itself AND the explanation are different. All the other commandments are the same (with a slight addition and variation in the fifth and tenth commandments). You can look them up in Exodus 20 and Deut. 5 to compare them if you’d like.