Sermon Notes: The Fourth Commandment – Work and Leisure

31 01 2016

‘Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Sunday trading is big news at the moment, but some shops are not in support of it! In fact, Tesco are stopping many of their shops from being open 24 hours. The Keep Sunday Special campaign has been running since 1993.

We don’t want work to be the be all and end all for this country.

Sunday’s are time for rest, family, etc, but primarily to gather with God’s people to worship Him.

Not everyone thinks a day of rest is efficient: “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” – Bill Gates. But it’s not about efficiency, we keep the sabbath because God commands it.

This commandment breaks into three parts:

  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” – v8 – what to do
  • When the Israelites were in the desert, God provided manna for six days and on the seventh they were due to rest.
    Remembering to rest on the sabbath is an active thing, we can’t just remember it’s the sabbath and then do nothing about it. That’d be like remembering it’s your anniversary but not doing anything about it.

  • “Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.2 – vv 9-10 – how to do it
  • Labour isn’t just paid work, but voluntary, or any form of working.
    It’s not just a day off, Sabbath means “a day of sacred assembly”, it comes from a word meaning to cease, or rest. A day to stop the business as usual.

  • “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – v11 – why to do it
  • The Sabbath is a gift from God: “Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2 v 27
    It was also a celebration of being saved from Egypt: “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” – Deuteronomy 5 v 15

We don’t look back to the Exodus for our salvation, and to slavery in Egypt, but to Jesus saving us from slavery to sin and death!

It is no longer called the Sabbath on a Saturday, but the Lord’s Day on the Sunday.The apostles observed their day of worship and rest on the first day of the week, the day Jesus rose from the dead. E.g. “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” – Acts 20 v 7.

“Christ took the Sabbath into the grave with him and brought the Lord’s Day out of the grave with him on the resurrection morn.” – BB Warfield
“Christians no longer observe the Sabbath, but direct their lives toward the Lord’s Day, on which our life is refreshed by Him and by His death” – Ignatius

To rest on the Lord’s day, we begin with work. We all have a duty to work in the six days, not necessarily paid work, but for doing useful things with our time: raising families, volunteering, running the home.

According to the Baptist Union, the average amount of times Christians go to church each month at the moment is 2.2.

The Lord’s day is for…

  • …worship
  • To gather together, to enjoy fellowship with God’s people, for catching up on spiritual reading, and spending the whole day in ways that make it God’s day.

  • …mercy
  • The pharisees made up ridiculously strict rules about how little could be done on a Sunday, to the point that if a wall fell on someone they couldn’t be rescued until the next day if they weren’t badly injured. Jesus performed miracles on the sabbath! We can show mercy by visiting someone, have people round for dinner, give to the foodbank.

  • …rest
  • We should cease from our normal daily routine, from work, from studies, from housework. Of course some have to work on Sundays, those who provide medical care or preserve public safety, and church ministers! – they are wise to set another day aside for rest at least if not public worship.

We’re to come together for worship: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2 vv 19-22

The greatest rest and spiritual refreshment we can find is at the foot of the Cross.

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’” – Matthew 11 vv 28-30

It’s not my day off, it’s His day, the Lord’s day.

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