Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Exodus 20:8
This command is part of what we call the Ten Commandments. The people to whom the Ten Commandments were given had an identity as slaves. They had been slaves and their parents had been slaves. For the 430 years they lived in Egypt, they knew one thing: slavery.
Once the children of Israel left Egypt, they needed a new identity. They were no longer slaves so, who were they? God, their Deliverer gave them commandments that established their new identity and taught them how they would relate to God and to others. One of those commands established something called the Sabbath.
The Sabbath instituted a new order. As slaves in Egypt, their lives were ordered by their slave masters. But, the Sabbath changed all that. The Sabbath said that the Israelites would work six days and rest on the seventh day. The seventh day was to be called the Sabbath. It was not just a day off from work to rest or do whatever they wanted. God called it a holy day and told the Israelites that they were to keep it holy.
Holy: set apart for a sacred purpose.
The Sabbath day was a day to rest from labor and to spend time with God.
When the Sabbath was instituted, the Israelites went from being slaves to being sons!
They were to rest from labor, even in the time of harvest or plowing. They were to leave their duties and spend time with their Father. This was the activity of a son.
Are you a child of God?
God has instituted a new pattern for living. We are no longer slaves to sin, we are children of God therefore, we live as sons/daughters of God.
The Sabbath declared several things:
- It recognized that God was the Creator of all things.
God began the Sabbath at the creation of the world – long before He announced the pattern of living to Moses.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God created and made. This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the heavens and the earth. Genesis 2
God didn’t need to rest from His work because He was tired.
Does that word look familiar?
God stopped and looked at everything on the seventh day. We are to stop and look at everything on the seventh day. It is recognition on our part that God is the reason that everything exists.
- It recognized God as the Provider.
No matter what season the Israelites were in – even in plowing or harvest, they were to cease work on the Sabbath day. Ceasing work would take valuable time away from them that they could be using to prepare their fields or bring in the harvest. By ceasing, they were declaring that God was the Provider. The holy day testified of their trust in God as their Provider and Trusted Father.
- It declared their position as sons and daughters of God.
When God stopped and observed – they stopped and observed. They did not work when He did not work. They rejoiced when He rejoiced. It revealed that they were no longer slaves to fear, but that they were children of God. They were holy, just as He is holy.
But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16
This New Testament command is drawn directly from the direction given to Moses. Things have not changed for us: we are a holy people because He is holy. The history of the heavens and the earth are His-story. The patterns of success and failure are written into life by Him.
- It established the renewal of God’s people through relationship with Him.
We are finite beings. We must be rested and renewed to face the ups and downs of this life. The Sabbath was not just a day off – it was a day to worship and spend time with God. Therefore, the principle of our renewal was established in the Sabbath:
We are not renewed from burnout, emotional fatigue, or giving through rest alone. We are renewed through spending time with God.
While the Sabbath honors God as Creator – while it declares our trust in Him as our Provider – while it declares our deliverance from slavery into becoming sons and daughters of God:
It establishes the truth that our renewal comes in the presence of God.