THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT
"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.....(Exodus 20:8-11 ESV)
This is an easily misunderstood commandment and one of the trumped up weapons which the high priests and religious hypocrites used to persecute, and then, execute King Jesus! To grasp the entire message here, we should look to what the Lord said "the sabbath (shabat in Hebrew) was made for man, not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27).
Looking back to the verse above, when God gave the 7th Day as the Sabbath Day, He was not saying He was tired. He was demanding obedience from the Hebrews. All their work should cease on that day and it should be a time dedicated to worship Him. That did not mean the religious authorities should have treated the people harshly as they did by adding rule upon rule to this commandment to the point where Jesus' Disciples could not even pick some food to eat. Even today, extreme orthodox practicing Jews would not drive to the Temple or cook, under some notion that they are obeying the Law.
Here is what Jesus said about all of this harsh pharisee rule making and oppression “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matthew 23:23-24 ESV)
So what does this have to do with Christians today? First of all, since the Cross of Calvary, we are under the dispensation of Grace. Our Sabbath is not the Saturdays of the Hebrews but the Lord's Day of the New Testament. Ever since the Resurrection, the Lord's Day is now the first day of the week. There is ample proof in the New Testament:
1 Cor. 16:1-2, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come."
Rev. 1:10-11, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea".
This is the only one of the Ten Commandments which was NOT carried over into the Age of Grace (until the Second Coming of Christ and His 1000 year Reign from Jerusalem). In fact, Paul warns believers to not let others "judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." (Col. 2:16b-17).
The bottom line of all of this should be the following:
- Christ is the Fulfillment of the Law. We are under Grace not Law (Romans 6:14-15)
- Christ is our Sabbath (i.e. our rest; see Hebrews 4).
- We are to worship God daily, not just once a week.
- If your church wants to meet on Saturdays (as some churches do for nurses, cops etc who have to work on Sundays), there is nothing wrong with that.
- The Lord's Day is Sunday: the Roman Calendar as Luke wrote in Acts 20:7 as this gospel writer and Paul took the message of the Gospel of Grace to the Gentiles.
- The Lord's Day is meant to fellowship with fellow believers and those who wish to be and to praise Him mightily, in one accord.
NEXT: THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT
(image by google)