Summary: We are still in need fo a Sabbath today. This sermon gives 4 reasons why this Command was necessary and then 3 things that the Sabbath still protects
Let’s begin tonight by reading the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20:1-17.
Tonight we come to the 4th Commandment. "Remember to keep the Sabbath holy.”
Now for so many of us this is the Command that we have been waiting for. We understand the need to only serve God, and we agree that we should not put anything above God or try to shrink God down to a manageable size. But we are a New Testament Church and the only thing holy about Saturday is College Football.
First I believe that we need to understand what the Sabbath means. In verse 11 we read that God rested on the Seventh day and blessed the Sabbath, so we assume that the Sabbath day was Saturday or the Seventh day. But Sabbath doesn’t mean seven; Sabbath means to rest from labor. And I believe that today we need to look at this more than ever.
God commanded that the Jews observe this day of rest every week. And God was very serious about this commandment – you Jews need to take a break, prop your feet up, and rest for a while. I don’t want you doing ANYTHING on this Sabbath day.
Now, in terms of seriousness, where would you rank this command? Let’s be honest. Surely it doesn’t sound as serious as “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or “Thou shalt not murder.” God says, “I want you to take it easy for a while.” What did you suppose should be the penalty for breaking that command?
Somebody doesn’t rest like they’re supposed to, they get up and start washing the dishes or cleaning the house, what would you do about it? Maybe you’d give them a good talking to – “Don’t you know that you’re supposed to rest today? What are you doing working when you should be home sleeping?”
Or maybe a slap on the wrist or a fine. “Tell you what we’ll do -- we’ll fine you all the money that you made on that day and put it in the building fund.”
But as with every command God wasn’t joking. In Exodus 31 we see that the penalty for breaking this command was death. If you don’t stop and rest one day a week, you will be put to death. I believe that puts this command on an even plain with, “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery”!
Tonight we will look at this in two parts: 4 reasons why this Command was necessary and then 3 things that the Sabbath still protects.
(1) God knows how important it is that humans rest.
The U.S. Army conducted a study in which they observed several soldiers in various conditions to determine at what stage these individuals achieved the maximum level of output. They discovered that after seven consecutive days of hard work, each soldier’s performance dropped. But the most interesting discovery the army made was that even though the soldiers’ performance level dropped, the soldiers themselves were unaware of it. They thought they were still operating at maximum level.
Maybe that’s why so many of us think we don’t need to rest, that it is somehow LAZY to take a break every now and then. But God knows the importance of rest. God made us. He knows how much this body can handle. And he knows that if we don’t take time to recharge our batteries, that we will very quickly destroy ourselves.
(2) God knows how much humans don’t want to rest.
Those of you who parents fully understand this, because we see the same resistance with our children. Have you ever watched young children fight sleep? They whine and cry; keep themselves busy, running and playing so they can’t fall asleep. But whatever they’re doing, no matter how frenzied their efforts to stay awake, they’ll insist they’re not tired. I’ve seen Trafton’s eyes lose focus, and his head look like it’s going to bob right off his neck in the middle of telling me, "Daddy, I’m not sleepy." There are times when a mother or a father simply has to make a child rest.
God knew that man needed rest from his labor, and he also knew that man would resist it. And if God had told the Jews, “You know, you guys really ought to take a break every now and then,” there’s not a single one that would have taken God seriously. But when God says, “Either you stop and rest for a while or I’ll kill you,” folks, you tend to listen to instructions like that.
(3) The Sabbath was a sign of God’s covenant with Israel
The Sabbath served as a sign of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. God had promised to provide for Israel, and they had promised to be obedient to God. And there were two things which stood as symbols of that covenant. One was circumcision, and the other was the keeping of the Sabbath. When other people living around the Israelites noticed that the Jews didn’t do any work on the Sabbath, it would provoke questions in them. Everyone else worked seven days a week. You had to if you were going to survive, or at least that’s what they thought. “Why do you Jews only work six days a week and refuse to do any work on the seventh day?” To which, they could respond that they did this as a testimony to the fact that they belonged to Almighty God and that they were trusting in Him to provide for their needs.