The fourth word provides us with a bridge between the commandments relating to our worship of God and the guidelines for doing life with other image bearers. God reminds His people they were created for work and for rest to worship Him and to provide rest for others.
Pause to Read or Listen
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. “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. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. “You shall not murder. “You shall not commit adultery. “You shall not steal. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's.”
Before reading the fourth chapter of Ten Words to Live By, how did you view the Sabbath?
How did that view change after reading the chapter?
Here in Exodus 20:8-11, God reminds the Israelites — and us today — that He established a work-rest pattern at the beginning of time. This was not a new law.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1–3
Three repeated words in this passage provide an opportunity for a little Hebrew word study.
Finished: Kalah means complete, accomplish, cease, end.
Work: Melakah is a noun for occupation or employment, but not servitude.
Rested: Shabath means to cease, to desist, to rest.
Now, let’s look at similar words from this week’s section from 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.
Labor: Abad means to work, to serve, to keep in bondage.
Work: Melakah, the same word as in Genesis 2.
Sabbath: Shabbath is the noun from the root shabath above.
Rested: Nuach is to cease.
In Genesis, God rested to model this necessary piece for human existence both physically and spiritually. He has no need for physical recharge, but He created us with this need and gave us the gift of a day off, the gift of ceasing from our work. He created us for His glory, not as the gods of our own universes. Thus, the Sabbath gives us an opportunity to pause from our toil (or as Wilkin so aptly writes, our “self-appointed slavery of self-gain”) and realign our hearts to serve Him alone. To pause a one day out of seven is to proclaim our trust in God to provide for our needs and to provide justice for others who toil to serve us — both those we know and those we don’t. As Jesus modeled, we are also given the permission and the privilege to serve others no matter what day of the week.
In Deuteronomy 5:15 as Moses reminded the Isarelites why this law is so important, he said, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
The Israelites were enslaved to a harsh, polytheistic ruler in Egypt.
What enslaves God’s people today?
Why is it so hard to take a day off from work?
As God established a pattern of rest, He was foreshadowing our eternal rest, which is guaranteed when we believe in Jesus Christ. He has rescued us from the slavery to sin and guaranteed that we will be free forever.
How can you personally “predict, prepare, partake, provide” to pause a day each week to obey this commandment?
Heavenly Father, You set an example for us both at creation and through Your Son Jesus Christ to cease from our toils one day a week. Your example often feels so hard to follow as our work becomes an idol, enslaving us. Forgive us for our “self-appointed slavery to self-gain.” We have taken our eyes off You. By the power of Your Spirit, give us fresh eyes to see how we can surrender to Your best for us and to take the steps to sabbath. We love You, Lord.