"THE REST OF THE
TEXTS: Exodus 20:8-11; Genesis 2:15;
Of the 10 commandments this is the one taken most lightly by both
Christians and non Christians. Against the other commandments like, "Thou
shall not kill", "Thou shall not steal," and "Do not commit adultery" it seems
rather mild and innocuous.
Nothing could be further from the truth however! As the final commandment
on tablet #1 dealing with man's relationship with God it concludes all that we
need to know in order to have a full life. ALL the commandments are needed for
full life as God intended. God's rightful place and man's rightful place
cannot be understood in life without this commandment.
This commandment really has two parts to it:
(1. Keep the Sabbath day holy
(2. Six days shall you work.
We cannot find meaning in work without worship, and worship without work
has no practical value! It is the combination of both worship and work that
creates a full humanity and purpose to life, if our work is for ourselves it
has no lasting sense of purpose.
When my daughter Aimee was in nursery school, she'd come home each day with
drawings, collages, and other projects. Next to her own name she'd scrawl the
name of someone she loved--usually Mommy or Daddy, sometimes baby brother Ben.
"I did this for you," she'd proudly say. As I reflect on this, I remember the
apostle Paul's exhortation, "Whatever you do ... do it all in the name of the
Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17). If Aimee could do every school project for me or for
her dad, surely I can do my "projects" for my heavenly Father. Now I often ask
myself, Have I written my Lord's name on all I've have done today? -- Laura
DuVall Bush, New Britain, CT, Today's Christian Woman, "Heart to
We cannot experience work as a joyous thing without realizing that our
work is being done for something greater than ourselves, and worship without
work gives no expression of God's power in our lives to those of this
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that to
experience the fullness of our humanity we must both consistently worship God
and work. Worship fits us to work. We must honor both parts of this
commandment to know God's best in life.
I. MAN - THE WORSHIPPER Ex. 20:8,10-11
A. Relationship 20:8
1. The first part of this commandment deals with worship before work.
a. The Sabbath was God's final day of creation, but it was man's first
day of existence .. so man begins his journey with worship before work!
b. Worship makes a man fit to be a worker.2. Without worship our
work has no lasting value, it is only temporal.
a. Certainly nothing man can do as work has any eternal significance to
it if it is not done out of a relationship with an eternal God.3. Why is
all this true?
a. Man is a spiritual being, and if what he does has not come from a
spiritual perspective it has little value to it.
b. Worship frames everything in our lives by giving significance to
everything beyond a materialistic framework.4. God desired fellowship
with Adam before sending Adam into the garden to work it.
have asked three close friends to monitor me and tell me when I am allowing
busyness to crowd out fellowship with God. -- C. John "Jack" Miller in
Leadership, Vol. 10, no. 4
5. The purpose of this commandment was to prevent man who worked most of
the week from losing the spiritual dynamic to his life and thus the purpose to
his work and life.
a. Failure to worship will have an impact of the satisfaction of our
b. Worship renews our spirit which is what energizes our
Worship renews the spirit as sleep renews the body. Richard Clarke Cabot
B. Rest 20:10-11
1. Worship enables us to "rest" before God.
a. This isn't primarily a physical rest as much as it is a spiritual
(1. It is a resting from saving ourselves!
(2. It is resting in God's love and cleansing power.
b. However, the spiritual rest can have profound impact on our physical
study was made at Harvard University of the effect of meditation on older
people. They discovered that meditation lowered blood pressure, improved
mental function, and extended the life span. While we may not all agree on
transcendental meditation, Christians have long believed that meditation in
worship made life deeper if not longer, and richer, and fuller. -- Robert C.
Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company,
2. Too often we fail to understand the significance of worship, so many
see it as unimportant since we do so many of the same things over and over in
the same way when we worship.
a. We fail to understand however how important many of these "spiritual"
dynamics are in the way they affect our lives.
b. To "remember" the Sabbath day and to keep it holy may mean repeating
many of the same spiritual dynamics over and over in our lives, but these very
exercises become the core strength that enables us to deal with a
materialistic universe and the problems we face in the work
In the movie Karate Kid, young Daniel asks Mister Miagi to teach him karate.
Miagi agrees under one condition: Daniel must submit totally to his
instruction and never question his methods. Daniel shows up the next day eager
to learn. To his chagrin, Mister Miagi has him paint a fence. Miagi
demonstrates the precise motion for the job: up and down, up and down. Daniel
takes days to finish the job. Next, Miagi has him scrub the deck using a
prescribed stroke. Again the job takes days. Daniel wonders, What does this
have to do with karate? but he says nothing. Next, Miagi tells Daniel to wash
and wax three weather-beaten cars and again prescribes the motion. Finally,
Daniel reaches his limit: "I thought you were going to teach me karate, but
all you have done is have me do your unwanted chores!" Daniel has broken
Miagi's one condition, and the old man's face pulses with anger. "I have been
teaching you karate! Defend yourself!" Miagi thrusts his arm at Daniel, who
instinctively defends himself with an arm motion exactly like that used in one
of his chores. Miagi unleashes a vicious kick, and again Daniel averts the
blow with a motion used in his chores. After Daniel successfully defends
himself from several more blows, Miagi simply walks away, leaving Daniel to
discover what the master had known all along: skill comes from repeating the
correct but seemingly mundane actions. The same is true of godliness. -- Duke
Winser, El Segundo, California. Leadership, Vol. 16, no. 4.
3. These are not empty rituals we go through when we sing hymns of
worship and praise to God, nor is it just an "offering" of money that we
collect, nor an exercise in patience to sit under a sermon - these acts of
worship frame our lives and understanding of God and thus ourselves so that
when we "work" in this world there is a whole different understanding of our
role in life.
a. The Sabbath is thus a "rest" in God, a time for our soul to refresh
itself as much as it is to prepare us for work in the world.
b. The man who fails to worship by honoring the Sabbath is a man that
will not find satisfaction in life or work in the way God designed us to
experience it.4. In this sense the Sabbath was not made for God, it was
made for man, a statement Jesus clearly says in Mark 2:27 "Then he said to
them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'"
II. MAN - THE WORKER Ex. 20:9; Gen. 2:15; Neh. 13:15-22
A. Responsibilities 20:9; Gen. 2:15
1. While the first half of the 4th commandment is "Keep the Sabbath
day.." the second part is "Six days shall a man work…"
a. The full value of being a human being as God intended cannot be
experienced without both WORSHIP and WORK.
b. The 4th commandment requires both.
2. A society that fails to realize that their citizen's sense of self
respect comes only from a Worship ethic and a Work ethic will fail to develop
a strong society.
a. A society that is devoid of spiritual foundations will lack a sense of
b. A society that makes welfare without work will strip it citizens of
dignity and purpose.
c. The human spirit must have both worship and work to know their
humanity as God intended it to be.
3. Work was a part of Adam's humanity BEFORE he sinned! (See Gen. 2:15)
a. Adam was commanded to work the garden before he fell in sin.
b. Man was not created to JUST worship, but to worship and work!
c. It is for this reason that any system to help the poor that avoids
both elements, a spiritual context and a creative one will leave those who
receive help "dignity poor" and lacking true self esteem.
(1. The Old Testament welfare system is a good example here of both:
(a. The spiritual context said the poor were valuable and the rich had a
responsibility to them by leaving the corners of their fields for the poor to
(b. By leaving the corners of the field for the poor, the poor had to
work to gather in what was provided so that work was a part of the process and
thus preserving their own dignity and self respect.
(c. In this way there was responsibility and dignity for both the rich
and the poor. Each had to DO something.(2. The New Testament certainly
had a similar emphasis based on the Apostle Paul's words to the Church in
Thessalonica, 2 Th 3:10-12 "For even when we were with you, we gave you this
rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." We hear that some among you
are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and
urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they
eat."4. Failure of humans to worship also leaves them without true
dignity and self respect, for there is no larger context to what they do than
a. Too many people assume that activity or work alone will fulfill
b. However, they soon discover that it is not activity that proves
anything of value, only activity within a context of an eternal perspective
that can add meaning.
Activity itself proves nothing: the ant is praised, the mosquito swatted. -
Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton:
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entries 112-115.
B. Rewards Neh. 13:15-22
1. Nehemiah understood how easy it is breaking the 4th commandment, and
also how quickly God's blessings disappeared when Judah did break it, so he
goes into action to restore the Sabbath in order to restore God's blessings on
them as a nation, a nation that was recovering from captivity.
a. While they may be free again, captivity can come in other ways, and
their neglect of the Sabbath was setting the stage for a new kind of
b. Since Nehemiah knew that the biggest battle was going to be with the
merchants and the buyers he starts with them.
c. He forbids the doors to town to be open on the Sabbath.
d. He won't let the merchants even in, and by closing the doors the
buyers couldn't get to the goodies!
e. He finally tells them after a couple of attempts to get their wares in
that if they persist he will "make some heads roll"!
2. Nehemiah understood that leadership was needed to restore the proper
place of the Sabbath in the life of Judah.
a. Dads, are you taking leadership in your homes to restore the Sabbath
principle for your wife and children?
b. Once Nehemiah demonstrated his own leadership in this, he called upon
the Levites to "PURIFY THEMSELVES" and to enforce it. A call for others to
join him in being an example.
c. Stay at home parents do not produce go to Church children!
3. While we emphasize to our children and society the importance of "Thou
shall not kill, Thou shall not steal, Thou shall not commit adultery" I wonder
if we do as much to say, "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy?"
4. Nehemiah's concerns were simple, their forefathers had neglected the
Sabbath and God had therefore allowed calamity upon them as a nation, if they
want God's blessings and rewards they would have to emphasize as much the
Sabbath as any of the other commandments.
a. Reward came with responsibility
b. Reward came with taking God at His word about the Sabbath.
5. God was trying to raise them up as a nation, the Sabbath was meant to
strengthen them as a people.
a. The world may not understand the importance of the Sabbath, but we
need to show that it is important.
b. The Sabbath would raise up a nation to be all that God would have them
Adrian Rogers, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, tells
about the man who made his sons work in the cornfields while their peers spent
the afternoon at the swimming hole. Someone scolded the father saying, "Why do
you make those boys work so hard? You don't need all that corn." The wise
father replied, "Sir, I'm not raising corn. I'm raising boys." -- Quoted by
Marvin Hein in The Christian Leader (Nov.21, l989). Christianity Today, Vol.
34, no. 2.
6. Just as skipping too much work has penalties, skipping the Sabbath has
spiritual penalties also.
a. It is important to be faithful to worship.
b. It is important to be faithful to work.
7. How well do you keep the Sabbath?
a. Are you good at only "half" of this commandment, "6 days you will
b. Why settle for only half a blessing?
CONCLUSION: While the
Sabbath was the last day of creation for God, it was man's first day of
existence with God. We begin our week with worship and then enter the week
with work. God came first! The 4th commandment has 2 parts to it: (1. Worship
- Sabbath, and (2. "6 days you will work" - creativity. Man is never fulfilled
without both worship and work. A failure to honor both will result in loss. Do
you remember the Sabbath to keep it holy?