The Fourth Commandment - Weekly Devotional
This week's focus: Ten Commandments
(this is the fourth in our series on the 10 Commandments)
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Almost all Christians believe that the Ten Commandments reveal God’s will, not only for Jewish people but also for all humanity. Though, in our sinfulness, we break these commandments. I’ve never known any Christian who argued that the Ten Commandments weren’t binding upon us.
Yet, in my experience, the vast majority of Christians regularly disregard the fourth commandment. We do not “[r]emember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (20:8). What’s more, most of us don’t even feel guilty about consistently breaking this commandment.
There are many reasons for this peculiar situation. In part, we rightly understand that Jesus did not uphold the strict Pharisaic rules for the Sabbath and did “work” on the Sabbath, such as healing sick people. Moreover, we are correct in believing that the early Christians began to observe the “Lord’s Day” on Sunday, the first day of the week, rather than on Saturday, the seventh day. Some of us reject observing the Sabbath because we grew up in Christian contexts where Sabbath-keeping was rife with legalism and shame. Our knowledge of God’s grace in Christ is hard to reconcile with our experience of Christian Sabbath-keeping.
The fact that remembering the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments indicates that this is meant, not just for Jews, but for all people. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the commandment itself refers to “foreigners” living among the Jews and by the fact that it points to God’s own example of rest on the seventh day of creation. Though Christians rightly exercise freedom in Christ with respect to the details of Sabbath observance, such as the day of the week, we need to take seriously the call to weekly rest. Not only do we honor God in our Sabbath-keeping, but also we need it. God created us for a rhythm of work and rest. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, invites us to receive the gift of Sabbath even as he sets us from legalistic approaches to it.
© 2009 by The High Calling and the Theology of Work Project, Inc.
Exodus 20:8-11 (ESV)
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.
- Forgive us, Lord, for so easily ignoring one of Your Ten Commandments. Teach us how we who know You through Christ might faithfully and gracefully remember the Sabbath. Help us to consider this commandment with our friends, families, and churches. May we discover how to rest so that we might enjoy deeper relationships with You and with each other.
- New Jersey and Virginia have critical state elections on November 2nd and early voting is already underway. Pray for Christian voters to be praying unceasingly, thinking biblically about the issues and candidates on the ballot, and show up and vote. Voter Guides are available here.
We want to see God honored in America, and we pray for an unprecedented spiritual awakening.
This devotion was produced in partnership with Every Home for Christ.
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