Greetings church, I am writing this as a follow-up from Sunday’s sermon on June 6, which was an exposition of the fourth commandment “remember the sabbath…”.
If the sabbath is no longer about a “day”, then what does it mean to “remember the sabbath” today as Christians?
I will attempt to answer this question more fully by way of question/answer process:
Should I still be taking days off work?
Yes. The whole point of rest is that it is a time for us to be humble and recognize that our bodies require rest, whereas God never gets tired or weary in the way that our corruptible bodies do. It is still important to take days off work so that we can attend to the other roles that God has us to fulfill as: parents, children, spouses, members/contributors of a local church, ministers of the Gospel, etc. Of course, there may be times when our work requires seasons that are more demanding than others. These situations always require much discernment and prayer, for we should always guard our time against being more loyal to the world than we are to God.
As we know, many jobs have different requirements in work schedules. The Israelites and the Ancient Near East culture had to work 6 days week (likely from sunrise to sunset) because the fields and animals they tended to require it, and not much has changed for farmers today. However, most of us are no longer farmers, but we work in jobs that require anywhere between 20-70 hours a week. Some jobs require us to work overnights, and some jobs only require us to work 3-4 days in a week. If the sabbath was still about working 6 days and resting on the seventh, then what would the implication be for those who only work 3-5 days a week? Does the 4th commandment require them to find a job that schedules them for 6 days of work?
The heart of the 4th commandment was for the Israelites to remember that God is the one who provides for them and sustains them. Although He will not let them fully escape from the cursed ground that requires them to cultivate it, He also does not want them to forget that He is the one who causes all things to grow by His sovereign will.
As Christians, we know that it is by Christ alone that we have eternal life, as He is the Bread of Life and the Manna from Heaven. To remember the sabbath today is to remember that it is in Christ that we find our eternal rest.
So continue to have dedicated day(s) off from work for the purpose of worship, family, devotion to Scripture, fellowship with the local Church, and to reenergize for the next work week. Why? Because you need it, in the same way that you need Christ to be the one who has provided you salvation and is the one who sustains your faith to the end.
What does it mean to disobey the fourth commandment today?
I believe there are many times throughout our work weeks and daily lives that we tend to put more of an emphasis on our own abilities and what we think we can accomplish by our own determination and will. When we do this, we are disobeying the fourth commandment by not having in proper view our utter reliance upon Christ in all things. Once again, thankfully, it is Christ Himself who is the sustainer of our faith and assures us that all His sheep are held securely in both His hands and the Father’s hands (John 10). Anytime we are convicted of when we rely upon ourselves and not on God’s sovereign provision for our lives, we can rest assured that our forgiveness is, once again, not found in what we have done, but in what Christ has done for us.
What if I work on Sundays?
If the sabbath is no longer about the “day”, then it also means we have the freedom in Christ to be able to work on any day of the week, namely Saturdays or Sundays. Seeing that most worship services in American are still held on Sunday mornings (to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection), I always encourage people to do what they can to try to get Sundays off, not for the purpose of necessarily obeying the 4th commandment, but more so to ensure that they are still making time to hear the Word of God preached and to worship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you happen to work on Sundays in a way that prevents you from attending church, my first advice would be to see if your employer is willing to let you change that. If not, and God has provided for you and your family in this way, then my question for you would be: What are you doing to stay accountable to the body of Christ? How are you receiving the teaching of God’s Word during the week? What are you doing to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the Gospel? How are you maintaining fellowship with other Believers in the local church?
That is all that I will cover for now. If you ever have any questions for me in regards to our Sunday sermons or about the Bible, please do not hesitate to ask! As your pastor, I am here to labor for you, and I want to serve you the best that I can.