Summary: Set apart one day in seven to stop what you are doing to remember the Lord as Creator and Redeemer as you look forward to the eternal rest only Christ provides.
In 1611, every minister in Virginia was required to read, “The Articles, Laws and Orders” to his congregation every Sunday, reminding them failure to attend church twice each Lord’s Day was punishable in the first instance by the loss of a day’s food. A second offense resulted in a whipping and a third led to six months of rowing in the colony’s galleys.
One seafaring man named Captain Kemble, who returned home to Boston on a Sunday after three years at sea, profaned the Sabbath “by lewd and unseemly behavior.” His crime was publicly kissing his wife on Sunday, a transgression which earned him several hours of public humiliation in the stocks.
In the 1600s, a man in Scotland was arrested for smiling on Sunday. Jonathan Edwards resolved never to tell a funny story in his sermons. The first train to run on Sunday was met in Glasgow by an enraged group of clergymen who told the passengers they had just purchased a ticket to Hell.
Erwin Lutzer tells of a pastor during the time of the Puritans who lived in an area with a lot of ice and snow. One Sunday, he decided it would be faster to skate to church. After the service, the deacons called an emergency meeting to decide whether it was right for a pastor to skate to church on a Sunday. After several hours, they told him, “Yes, you can skate to church on Sundays, just as long as you don’t enjoy it.”
The fourth commandment, more than the others, is either dismissed as an outdated rule, or followed with legalistic fervor and not much smiling. We need to lean in and listen because this commandment deals with 1/7, or 14% of our time.
Last weekend, Commandment #3 clobbered us as we were challenged to watch our lives and our lips, so we don’t take God’s name in vain. We were urged to see God as weighty, so we don’t take His name lightly.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us these commands are to be inscribed on our hearts so we can impress them upon our children. As a way to get these commandments into our heads and hearts, we’re encouraging everyone to take a bookmark and work at memorizing these short phrases. If you’re ready to recite them from memory, please stand with me. By the end of the series, I’m hoping everyone will be able to stand and quote them.
1. One God
2. No idols
3. Revere His Name
4. Remember to Rest
5. Honor Parents
6. No murder
7. No adultery
8. No stealing
9. No lying
10. No coveting
If the third commandment charges us to honor God with our words, the fourth calls us to honor God with our time. Let’s give our undivided attention now to Exodus 20:8-11: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
Let’s begin with some observations:
1. This is the first positive command. The only other command that’s not stated negatively is the fifth one: “Honor your father and mother.”
2. This is the final vertical command. The first four have to do with our relationship with God; the next six deal with our relationships with others.
3. This is the longest of the 10 Commandments. According to my count, this command has 98 words. The final five commandments, altogether, take up just 53 words. God has almost twice as much to say about remembering the Sabbath day than He does about murder, theft, adultery, lying, or coveting combined.
4. This commandment is mentioned in the Old Testament more than any other. With over 100 references, this shows how important it is to God.
5. This commandment is difficult to interpret and the most controversial. More has been written and debated about this commandment than perhaps any other one. I heard of one Baptist fellowship which split into three separate groups because they had differences of opinion about how to interpret and apply it. I’ll probably say something you’ll disagree with. I’m OK with that as long as we don’t split over it.
6. This is the only one of the 10 Commandments not quoted in the New Testament.
7. This command meant a lot to the Israelites. Think of how this would have felt to people who just spent the last 400 years working as slaves with no days off!