#3 (The “Remember” Series)
“REMEMBER THE SABBATH!”
TEXT: Ex. 20:8-11; Gen. 1:31-2:3,15; Neh. 13:15-22 Isa. 58:13-14 Heb. 10:25
INTRO: Out of the 10 commandments the one taken the lightest has got to be #4: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Against “Thou shall not kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, etc.” it seems to pale in comparison – YET, this commandment is the longest of all 10, because it affected Israel’s life on a daily basis – “6 days thou shall work, the 7th you shall rest.” Thus it covered every day of their lives! This commandment was not just about 1 day a week, it was about 7 days.
This was probably the final commandment on tablet #1 -- those dealing with man’s relationship to God, the final six commandments dealt with man’s relationship to man -- and thus likely on tablet #2.
Ironically, nearly every time
The importance of this commandment deals with the very nature of man. Man was created for two things; WORSHIP & WORK. No man is balanced physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually that ignores this dual nature. For you to be healthy and balanced these two areas must exist in proper order. Together these make us strong and durable and fulfill our God created design. A failure of either and we are not what God intended us to be.
THE DESTRUCTION OF HURRICANE ANDREW A TV CREW CAME UPON A HOUSE IN PERFECT SHAPE
SURROUNDED BY BROKEN HOMES ALL AROUND IT.
THEY STOPPED TO INTERVIEW THE OWNER AS TO WHY HIS HOUSE WAS STILL
STANDING AND THE OTHERS WEREN’T AND THIS WAS HIS STORY. THE MAN STATED THAT HE HAD BUILT THE
HOUSE HIMSELF AND UNLIKE THE OTHERS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD HE HAD BUILT IT EXACTLY
TO THE BUILDING CODES OF FLORIDA, ONES CREATED TO GUARANTEE A HOUSE THAT COULD
WITHSTAND A HURRICANE. HIS
NEIGHBORS HAD THEIRS ALL BUILT BY CONTRACTORS WHO DECIDED TO SAVE MONEY BY
SKIPPING SOME OF THE CODES THAT THEY CONSIDERED OVER-KILL FOR
This commandment really has 2 parts to it:
1. “6 days shalt thou labor and do all your work…”
2. “…the 7th day is a Sabbath and is to be kept holy.”
3. In this way you will notice that this commandment really covers the entire week, and not just a single day.
We cannot practice either one without the other and be in good balance!
PROP SENT: This commandment that we are called upon to remember will bring great joy and balance in the life of those who keep it. A violation of either part of this commandment will bring ruin to the spirit and life of those who ignore either the WORK or WORSHIP side of this commandment!
I. MAN THE WORKER Ex. 20:9; Gen. 1:31; Neh. -22
A. Divine Responsibilities Gen. 2:15; Ex. 20:9
1. God’s plan for man has always included work, even before the fall in the Garden of Eden!
2. God put Adam in the garden to work it, even before sin entered the picture of humanity!
3. Work is an inherent part of our humanity and is very much a part of the foundation of human dignity, this is what our present welfare system misses!
4. It is man’s nature to work! Laziness and low self-esteem await those who don’t work!
a. Notice the unique dynamics of
the welfare system of the Old Testament: the poor in
b. This way provision for the poor was available but it was also work for them, this gave them the dignity of doing something toward the help they received – thus work!
c. For the really incapacitated, friends of the family would help by gleaning the edges for them, such as Ruth did for her aged Mother-in-law who couldn’t – so there was help for those who really could not work.
d. Even in the New Testament Paul wrote the Thessalonians and told those in the church who had quit their jobs to await the return of Jesus thinking it would happen soon, “... keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us … we worked night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you … in order to be a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you we gave you this rule: ‘if a man with not work, he shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle … such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.” II Thess. 3:6-12
5. Spirituality includes work if we are capable of it!!!
ILLUS: SOME PEOPLE HAVE CRAZY IDEAS OF BEING SPIRITUAL … “JUST LET GOD DO IT” MENTALITY. LIKE THE FARMER WHO WAS SITTING ON HIS PORCH WHEN A STRANGER HAPPENED BY AND ASKED HIM, “HOW’S THINGS?” THE FARMER REPLIED, “TOLERABLE” … AND THEN HE CONTINUED, “2 WEEKS AGO A TORNADO CAME ALONG AND KNOCKED DOWN ALL THE TREES I WOULD HAVE HAD TO CHOP DOWN FOR THIS YEAR’S WINTER FIREWOOD. THEN LAST WEEK LIGHTNING STRUCK THE BRUSH I HAD PLANNED TO BURN TO CLEAR THE FIELDS FOR PLANTING.” THE STRANGER RESPONDED, “THAT’S REMARKABLE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?” THE FARMER ANSWERED, “I’M WAITING FOR AN EARTHQUAKE TO COME ALONG AND SHAKE THE POTATOES OUT OF THE GROUND!” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
B. Divine Reasons Gen. 1:31
1. Notice how God felt after doing all His work of creation ... “God saw all that He had made and it was very good.”
a. God felt GOOD about His work!
b. A job well done even though hard makes us feel good; we were made in God’s image!
c. Work builds self-esteem, work never hurt anyone!
2. God knows it is also our nature to work, just like it is His nature to create and work we are made in His image, can you imagine a lazy God?
3. It also brings benefits or blessings that are tangible, in our case the money to purchase life’s necessities and more as well as gaining self-esteem and dignity!
a. Like gardening, it is hard work, so why does anyone ever do it? -- Because of the rewards that come later!
b. Work renews us in every way: body, mind, and spirit!
4. Work thus keeps us in shape; physically, mentally, and yes ... SPIRITUALLY!
a. There are many proverbs in the book of Proverbs that condemn laziness and speak of the evil things that come to those who are lazy!
b. Work was NOT a punishment for sin – it was part of our humanity before sin, it keeps us engaged to help ourselves and others!
5. Work also takes the focus off of us, we work not just for ourselves but with and for others.
C. Discipline & Reward Neh. 13:15-22
1. Our fallen nature distorts God’s created nature for work in one of two ways:
a. Either toward laziness!
b. Or overwork! Herein was part of the purpose behind this 4th commandment:
(1. “6 days shall thou do all your work!” This fights against laziness and overwork! Studies have proven that those who work 7 days a week are not as productive as those who work less!
(2. The Sabbath was not made for God, it was made for us!!
2. Work requires discipline, we don’t just go to work when we feel like it, could you imagine an economy run this way?
3. The same dynamics that make us good workers make us good worshippers; it doesn’t just happen, it requires our input and discipline!
4. There are rewards to those who work just as there are rewards to those who obey the Sabbath principle and worship!
5. Nehemiah was stuck with the job of reigning in the abuse of the Sabbath, Israel like Americans loved prosperity and so quickly overworked and ignored the Sabbath, it became just another day to make a buck! Neh. 13:15-22
a. You have to love a Pastor like Nehemiah, he simply orders the doors to town closed and finally proves he means business – when the merchants realized Nehemiah wasn’t ruled by the buck but by the Word of God they gave up trying to abuse the Sabbath!
b. Besides this, if Nehemiah is any indication of Nehemiah’s pastoral style you can see why they obeyed him!!!
(1. It says he called down curses on them and pulled out some of the men’s hair!! Then he made them swear an oath!
(2. His predecessor Ezra had also gotten worked up (Ezra 9:3-4), but Ezra had pulled out his own hair, Nehemiah’s system seemed to work better on the people and it was less painful on him as the pastor – he simply pulled out their hair instead of his own!
6. Nehemiah understood that God’s blessings would not come to Israel if they broke God’s Word, so this was not just a personal thing with him, he was calling them to be disciplined so they might receive the rewards of faithfulness which are considerable with God!
a. They wanted God’s blessings but without obeying the Sabbath principle!
b. This still describes many Christians today, they want God to bless them and prosper them but without tithing or obeying God’s Word!
c. There is no easy way to get an easy thing!
ILLUS: LIKE THE
POEM SAYS, “IF YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK …
YOU HAVE TO WORK TO EARN ENOUGH MONEY SO THAT YOU WON’T HAVE TO
WORK.” -- by humorist
II. MAN THE WORSHIPPER Ex. 20:8,10-11; Isa 58:13-14; Gen. 2:1-3; Heb. 10:25
A. Divine Relationship Ex. 20:8 Isa. 58:13-14
1. As much as man was created to be a worker he also was created to be a worshiper!
a. Avoiding either dynamic destroys the human design!
b. This 4th commandment thus has 2 parts to it: WORK & WORSHIP!
2. It is clear that God made the Sabbath so we could have fellowship with Him!
3. God did not make man just to work, He also desired us to fellowship with Him, something only man was made to do out of all creation. The rest of creation may work but they cannot worship! Therefore animals know no Sabbath, they work 7 days a week, but not man!
4. When God blessed Israel in the wilderness with food He provided double portions the day before the Sabbath so they wouldn’t have to work on the Sabbath, God’s blessings won’t make us desecrate the Sabbath!!!
5. Work alone will never bring fulfillment, workaholics are never satisfied! Worship can bring joy and fulfillment however. Isa. 58:13-14
a. God specifies this in this passage; we can find JOY IN THE LORD if we don’t violate the Sabbath principle!
b. They would also “ride on the heights of the land, and to feast on the inheritance of their forefathers.”
6. Fellowship with God builds us up, it does not tear us down, thus it makes us more fit for work if we have first worshipped each week!
a. Remember, the Sabbath was man’s first day of the week, thus Adam’s first full day alive started with fellowship with God; this made him fit to work the rest of the week.
b. Man was created the end of day 6, so while the Sabbath was God’s 7th day of creation it was man’s 1st day of existence, thus man starts his existence with the Sabbath rest in God – worship then work.
c. WORSHIP prepares us to be good WORKERS!!
7. The Lord desires our fellowship and we need His desperately!
a. Having to take account of our spirit each week before almighty God helps keep us balanced at work and gives us a place to practice our spirituality.
b. It also makes every man and woman
equal each week, everyone in
c. The fellowship with God would also build up the body of Christ, it will keep us HOT!
ILLUS: LIKE THE PASTOR WHO WENT TO VISIT A PARISHIONER WHO HADN’T BEEN IN CHURCH FOR A LONG TIME, THE MAN DIDN’T THINK IT MADE ANY DIFFERENCE IN HIM. THE PASTOR ARRIVED IN THE PLAIN MOUNTAIN CABIN ON A COOL EVENING; THE MAN INVITED HIM INTO THE LIVING ROOM WHERE A BLAZING FIRE KEPT THE ROOM WARM. WITHOUT SAYING A WORD THE PASTOR SIMPLY GOT UP AND TOOK A HOT COAL FROM THE FIRE AND PLACED IT ALONE ON THE SIDE OF THE FIREPLACE … SOON THE COAL WENT COLD AND BLACK, THE FIRE OUT. THEN AS THE MAN WATCHED THE PASTOR, THE PASTOR TOOK THE COAL AGAIN AND PUT IT BACK INTO THE FIREPLACE NEXT TO ANOTHER HOT COAL AND IMMEDIATELY IT BUST INTO FLAME AGAIN. WITHOUT A SINGLE WORD SPOKEN THE MAN GOT THE MESSAGE AND SIMPLY SAID, “PASTOR I‘LL SEE YOU IN CHURCH NEXT WEEK, THANKS FOR YOUR SERMON ON THE COAL” … AND THE PASTOR LEFT! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
8. God did not make us to be robots, He wants us to have fellowship, a relationship with Him as well as with each other!
a. The Sabbath gives us that opportunity on a regular basis.
b. This 4th commandment was
the longest of them all – because it was so regular and daily, it had the most
c. Many of the other feasts were annual events, only this one was weekly!
d. Its impact would be powerful if obeyed and powerfully negative if ignored!
9. It is not a legalistic thing, it is a loving thing, fellowship with God!! GOD WANTS TO BE IN TOUCH WITH YOU!
a. And He is better than AT&T or MCI’s “friends and family program” ... all calls long distance or otherwise are all FREE!!!!, no special times, it is all the time!
b. The Sabbath is not a negative thing, it is a positive thing.
B. Dynamic Rest Ex. 20:10-11; Heb. ; Gen. 2:1-3
1. God’s point in all this was for man to enjoy a “REST.”
a. This rest was not just physical in nature; it meant refreshing his entire being!
b. It also allowed for Israel and Israelites to be able to rest as a society, for once each week they were all equal in God’s eyes and each others, they were all worshippers!
c. Notice in the 4th
commandment it records carefully how ALL
2. NO MAN-MADE system has ever recreated this equality, communism said it in principle but we know the results of 80 years of practice without worship and only work – it failed!
3. This is the beauty of the church, we can all be in different strata in society but here we are all BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST!
a. Society would enjoy the rest as well as the individuals.
b. This would teach
4. Even nature experienced renewal as man did not use his beasts of burden on the Sabbath, and the ground could recover as well! (The point behind the special Sabbaths as well such as the “Sabbath year” ... and the “year of Jubilee”)
5. The idea of “REST” is also found in Gen. 2:1-3.
a. “God blessed the 7th day and rested from all His labors and made it holy because on it He rested...”
b. Interestingly enough in Gen. 2 concerning the 7th day it never says, “and the evening and the morning were the 7th day” following the Sabbath day’s creation by God ... the only day where this phrase is missing ... the point – no end to the Sabbath rest!
c. This “rest” was meant to be eternal, thus no end to the 7th day, sin brought a loss of this but even now if you read HEB. 4 you discover that God through Christ has made possible for us to enter that rest again, forever!
d. For Christians every day is a Sabbath in principle, without end, even though it is still important to express it weekly.
6. The Sabbath renews us PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, AND SPIRITUALLY ... WHAT A WONDERFUL REST! It gives us the chance to hear God by becoming still and quiet and resting in Christ’s work to save us!
ILLUS: BEFORE REFRIGERATION THERE WERE HUGE ICE HOUSES. THEY HAD THICK WALLS AND WERE FILLED WITH SAWDUST FOR INSULATION FOR THE GREAT BLOCKS OF ICE THAT WOULD BE KEPT THROUGH THE SUMMER MONTHS. ONE DAY A MAN LOST HIS WATCH, A VALUABLE ONE INSIDE ONE OF THESE ICEHOUSES, AND TRY AS THEY MIGHT THEY COULD NOT FIND IT AMONG ALL THE SAWDUST AND ICE. FINALLY A SMALL BOY ASKED TO TRY, BUT HE WANTED EVERYONE TO LEAVE AND THE THICK DOOR CLOSED! SOON THE BOY EMERGED WITH THE WATCH TO THE SURPRISE OF ALL THE ADULTS. WHEN ASKED HOW HE DID IT HE SAID, “I JUST SAT PERFECTLY STILL AND QUIET AND SOON I COULD HEAR THE TICKING, THEN I JUST FOLLOWED THE SOUND AND THERE IT WAS ... YOU JUST HAD TO STOP AND BE STILL TO HEAR THE SOUND! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
7. This is what the Sabbath does for us ... it allows us the chance to be still and know that He is God!
8. It is in this sense that we hurt ourselves so severely when we ignore God’s Sabbath call ... for it was created for man!
HOW TRULY RESTED ARE YOU?
conclusion: The Sabbath was God’s
7th day, but man’s 1st, we therefore begin with worship
and then enter the rest of the week with work. This is God’s created balance for
mankind. The “rest” of the Sabbath
was not just about doing nothing, it was about worshipping God! You never fully enter the Sabbath rest if
you don’t also worship! Out of the
10 commandments this one was the longest because its impact is both daily and
weekly and thus affects us frequently. Usually