Summary: How to apply the Sabbath Commandment today as Christians
There seem to be a surprising number of strange laws around in the USA
Revd Brian Bill in his sermon Law or Legalism lists a number of these He writes
"Almost every state has surprising laws on their books.
• In Florida, a woman may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer.
• In Indiana, citizens are not allowed to attend a movie within four hours after eating garlic. That seems like a good law to me.
• In Iowa, a man with a moustache is forbidden from kissing a woman in public.
• In Moline, ice-skating at the Riverside pond during the months of June and August is strictly prohibited.
• In Normal, Illinois, it’s against the law to make a face at a dog.
• In Wisconsin, it’s against the law to serve apple pie in restaurants unless there is cheese on top of it.
And, it’s probably a good thing that I’m not a pastor in Nicholas County, West Virginia because no member of the clergy is allowed to tell jokes or humorous stories from the pulpit.
We may laugh, or groan, at these out-of-date laws, because many of them seem absurd and ridiculous.
But, if we were to list all the rules, expectations, and laws that are on the books in some churches today, chances are we’d stop laughing pretty quickly.
Most of these religious regulations are not written down but some of us attempt to keep them, or expect others to do so.
(Liberty or legalism by Brian Bill https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/liberty-or-legalism-brian-bill-sermon-on-legalism-vs-grace-198343?ref=SermonSerps)
But the law of the Sabbath was NOT one of those daft laws we come across.
The fourth commandment says :
8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, 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, 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. 11 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. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, 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, 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. 11 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. (Ex 20:8-11)
The Sabbath Commandment comes very high up on the list of the Ten Commandments – in fact immediately after the commandments to do with the Lord our God directly.
So we have to take the Sabbath Commandment very seriously.
But let’s start with what the 4th Commandment does NOT say:
1. It doesn’t say the Sabbath has to be a Sunday. Indeed in Old Testament times the Jewish Sabbath started on Friday evening and went on till Saturday evening.
Christians changed it to a Sunday in deference to Christ being raised from the dead on a Sunday
There are some people who have to work on Sunday and so they have to take another day as their Sabbath.
2. It doesn’t say the Sabbath is only an hour on Sunday devoted to God and then we can do what we like.
One churchwarden said to me once: You mustn’t go over an hour for the service as people have to go home to cook the lunch at 12 noon.
I was tempted to ask him if he had ever come across a slow cooker!!
3. So not to transgress the Law of the Sabbath the Jews determined that you could not walk over a certain distance on the Sabbath for fear of breaking the Sabbath.
The Sabbath’s day’s walk is only referred to in Acts 1:12 and it is the distance between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem .
That has been calculated to be about a kilometre.
Which is a reason that religious Jews try to live within a kilometre of the Synagogue
Brian Bill put the matter very well when he said
“Did you know that at the time of Jesus, Jewish leaders had established 39 Sabbath clarifications, with each having multiple subdivisions, making for over 1500 prohibitions?
Here are some of them.
• It was unlawful to kill a flea that lands on your arm because that would make you guilty of hunting on the Sabbath.