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. Exodus 20:8–11 (NIV)
God gave Moses the law as his best plan for his people – not only to bring himself glory, but for the good of his children. That is, he designed his commandments for our benefit. After the first three commands to honor the Lord God above all else, he moves to the fourth – to keep the Sabbath holy.
The Lord here writes in stone the principle that he has embodied from right back at creation – that six days are for work (work being good and coming before the fall of humanity), and the seventh day for rest. He rested, and he wants his people to follow his lead. He wants them to remember his deeds and set apart the day as holy.
The fourth commandment sheds more light on the Sabbath principle, designating that all observe it – daughters and sons, servants and free, citizens and foreigners. To take the day off requires preparation, just as the people in the desert had to gather extra manna on the day before. The Lord wants his people to learn how to plan ahead, so that later they can reap the rewards.
In the West, we’ve largely lost the culture of keeping Sunday special. Shops are open, enticing us to browse and buy, and children’s activities encroach more and more, meaning that parents have to decide between, say, their child going to a birthday party or attending church. To observe the day – to fill it with soul-feeding activities – requires us to stand against the cultural winds. We might need to find a creative approach to celebrating Sabbath, including taking off a day other than Sunday (which is especially true for those who work on a Sunday, such as ministers or health-care professionals).
How can you plan for this week’s Sabbath?
Prayer: Lord God, help me to understand how you designed this command from so many years ago for my flourishing. Amen.