“Remember the Sabbath Day, to Keep it Holy.”

October 14, 2015

Why did God give this Command?  

“Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God…for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:9-11)

Did God need to rest? Of course not.

But He knew the man, whom He had made, needed rest.

Does any man admit that he is tired, and needs to rest? (Of course not. That would admit a weakness.) So God commanded man to rest.

This command was not just for Israel as a nation. God’s reason came prior to Israel—at creation, when God made the heavens and the earth.

When France lengthened her workweek to ten days without a break, production decreased, accidents increased, focus diminished, sick days increased. When Russia made their workweek five days, work didn’t result in optimum production.

Do we question the Creator’s time and design? He said, “Work six; rest one.”

How did the Jews Remember the Sabbath?

Jews anticipated the Sabbath by cleaning, cooking, and preparing all day Friday. They had boundaries on what could and could not be done on the Sabbath. They celebrated from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday.

When Sabbath was over, they looked back to what they had learned on the Sabbath.

It was the highlight of their week.

 “Friday and Saturday come automatically, but Sabbath takes place only when we make it happen. We prepare for ‘Sabbath’ by the clothes we wear, by the meals we eat, by the lighting of Sabbath candles, and by chanting the Kiddush over wine to set apart this special time."

How should We Make the Day Holy?

God told Israel, “Keep it holy.”

What does that mean?

Think of the normal day. We call it the work week, because we spend it on our needs. We need to eat, so we work.

But one day was God’s.

He did not want it full of our ‘stuff’.

He wanted our attention.

He wanted us to think on Him.

Remember the article on "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People"? Our sin was that we did not acknowledge Him in everything. The Sabbath helps us NOT TO SIN. It is a holy day.

When Should the Sabbath Be Celebrated?

Sabbath is on Saturday, the end of the week.

So why do we call Sunday, the “Lord’s Day, the day of rest”?

The Jews celebrate the Sabbath. But the apostles designated the Lord’s Day of rest at the beginning of the week. Some say this is because Christ rose from the dead on Sunday. It fit their calendar. The point was not what day, but they had ‘a’ day.

We are not ‘under the Jewish law anymore’ (Romans 6:14). We don’t follow the Law. We have freedom in Christ, so “all things are lawful”. (I Corinthians 6:12)

But consider the purpose of the commandment…

To remember.

To set aside.

To rest.

To make it holy.

Who Should Remember the Lord’s Day?

Some of you may remember “blue laws”— laws requiring shops and businesses to remain closed on Sunday; mandated by state law. These laws reflected our “remembering our Creator”.

Obeying laws do not make us holy.

Today, even the Little Leagues play on Sunday. Malls are crowded. It has become another day to do what we couldn’t do yesterday.

Have we forgotten what God commanded at the beginning of time? Remember Him.

What Was the Punishment for Breaking the Sabbath?

A man picked up wood for his cook fire on the Sabbath.

Did God want him to starve? No, but He gave provision for His people to be ready for the Sabbath. He was without excuse.

His punishment: he was stoned.

How many stonings would happen today, if God enforced His day?

When the Jews entered their land, they were told to remember the Sabbath.

When they got busy and forgot, God made them rest. Another country conquered them. The land was given a rest. The people rested. And God was remembered.

What will it take for us, in our busy, hectic lives to see God and remember and rest?

The day is the Lord’s. He wants us to spend it in worship, remembering, rest.


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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