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What’s in a Commandment? #4 The Sabbath

The fourth commandment is probably my favorite.  It’s been shortened in most listings of the 10 Commandments.  This condensed version, usually reading like “Remember the Sabbath”, is dull and hardly meaningful when compared to the full text.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 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.

The most common arguments to come from this command are

  1. To work or not on the Sabbath and
  2. Accepting WHICH day is truly the Sabbath…

What’s funny is neither of these things really matter too much in my opinion.  Why?

First, we need to rest.  We all know it.  If we actually worked 6 days and rested, truly rested, on the 7th, we would most likely agree that it’s a good schedule.

Second, the Sabbath is the 7th day.  What’s your schedule?  If the first day of the week is Sunday, then Saturday is your Sabbath.  If the only day you can rest is Wednesday, then your week starts on Thursday.  If you don’t agree, I’m sorry.  Many people work odd hours and have little control over it.  We must rest sometime.  If we don’t then our bodies WILL fail.  God knew that.  It’s also a time to “rest” in God.

Now, on to why I like this commandment.

As one who holds the Bible in high regard, I really notice the confirmation of the creation week.  Did you notice it?  God created everything in 6 days…rested on the 7th.  It’s NOT just in Genesis 1.  Exodus 20 is a direct challenge to those who think there were gaps in the “days” or for those who feel the “days” weren’t days.  Hmmm.  Are we to work thousands of years, then rest?  Try it.

Okay, instead of failing at the “working for a thousand years” thing, try working for 6 days and then resting a full day.  Keep in mind what Jesus taught us later.  Are we to not help those in need on the Sabbath?  Are we to not heal those in need on the Sabbath?  Our attitude plays a larger part in all this than the legalistic arguments that can grow out of this 4th commandment.  If we did a deep study on this command that tells us when not to work, I bet “work” would be defined in a selfish light.  I bet we would find that those that broke this law were doing so for selfish gain. Hard to know for sure, but we do know Jesus clarified all of this.  We must recall that English was not the original language, and sadly, English fails to often fully define a Greek or Hebrew word.  Has anyone studied this deeply?

Some other interesting links to this 6 ON 1 OFF ratio include…  Not only did God model the work week, the Bible also notes that fields should be worked 6 years and rested the 7th year.  There are also civil laws on forgiving debt on the 7th year as well.  Boy, I wonder how our economy would work with that notion.  Lots of 6 year loans?


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