With all the renewed interest in the ten commandments these days, one can only hope that we as a nation will see the extreme value in them. The very future of our people may rest on if we allow God's rules for life guide us or not.
In reading the various essays presented by churches on this subject, it is interesting how they handle the Sabbath command. For the sake of their tradition they will usually say the Sabbath was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. For some reason keeping Saturday is bondage, and Sunday is a blessing. Anyway, that is a point for a study all itself.
But let's say they are right and look at the fourth commandment from that standpoint. Most all articles I have seen quotes Exodus 20 for the listing of the ten commandments. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it Holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: nor your son, daughter, nor manservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gate. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." It seems that the one command that is viewed as optional- is also the longest, and the most forgotten starts out with "remember."
Many of us remember when the "blue laws" virtually shut down towns and forced a day of rest on the residents. As we read the commandment, that is exactly what God proscribed, where even "strangers" and animals in town were to rest. I suppose pressure from merchants, those of different faiths and nonreligious folks caused the blue laws to fall into disuse over the years. Many felt it was quite a burden to rest the whole day. I am sure Israel of old enjoyed it after being in slavery for generations with NO rest. Notice how the Sabbath is observed now in these present days. It seems that the handful that still do keep the Sabbath holy have reduced it to just one hour in services then go about their business. It was a national ordinance in Israel- with a rather strict penalty for transgressing it. ....Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations... Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death... whoever does any work on that day shall be cut off from among his people... it is a perpetual covenant... then He gave Moses the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God. [Ex 31].
Even though it is legal to work on the Sabbath today, is it possible for a Spirit led believer to transgress it? Does one searching after God need a civil law to keep it? Oddly enough, the Sabbath command is the ONLY command we can keep! More often than not it was used by God as a test command to see if those called by His name will obey. How are you doing in your test?
Almost lost in the obedience argument are the words of Isaiah: "IF you turn your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your business on My holyday, and call the Sabbath a delight and honorable... then you shall delight yourself in the Lord... and He shall cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father... the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
In these incredibly busy times, the Sabbath command may be the MOST important commandment- if for nothing else- for our mental and physical health. Why not start this week to draw near to your Heavenly Father. Turn off the cell phone, TV, and other toys that consume your life. Mark your planner ahead of time that you and your family will be busy that day seeking your Creator. Establish a kinship with a Father who loves you- and misses the quality time with His children.
Written by Wayne Schatzle,
director, Freedom Biblical Information Center,
PO Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071
December 12, 1999